31 May 2023 | Clubs and Facilities |

Smashing golf's glass ceiling

by Australian Golf Media

Alex Odell image
Regional President Alex Odell with husband Felix on the golf course.

By Jim Tucker

President at 28. Alexandra Odell has quietly smashed one of golf’s glass ceilings with her energy to get things done for the Goulburn Murray Golf Association.

Odell’s new role as President of a district that embraces 17 clubs is a breath of fresh air that flips stereotypes.

Shepparton, Cobram Barooga and Tocumwal are the three biggest clubs in a district rich in players and visitors but with a need for more juniors.

Her ideas for the juniors won recognition and her engaging methods stirred support from outgoing President David Roberts, who has stayed on as Secretary.

“I originally came onto the committee as junior co-ordinator for the district because there just weren’t enough kids coming into the game or seeing enough to make them want to stay,” Odell said.

Juniors are now at the midpoint of a four-event swing through Kyabram, Hill Top, Shepparton (June 4) and Mooroopna (June 25) which provides the right amount of golf for beginners or the more advanced.

After Odell chatted with pro Rusty Kelly at her home club of Shepparton, an upbeat agreement was struck that a July school holiday program should be open to kids from all local clubs -- not just Shepparton.

“We had a real lull in the juniors. Kids just weren’t gravitating to golf. We’ll now have 20 kids for the Shepparton and Mooroopna events in June and we expect a lot more over summer when footy and netball are over,” said Odell, a handy seven-marker.

“We are making an effort to give kids much more of an enjoyable pathway after an introduction through MyGolf programs.”

She weighed up many factors when considering the step-up to GMGA President and all look even more significant now she is in the role.

“Stepping up to be a bit of a role model is good for the district. You don’t have to be old or retired to give back so I wanted to remove that stigma,” Odell said.

“Going through as a junior myself you don’t realise the time and effort people are contributing in the background.”

Odell played at Shepparton, Mooroopna, where she is a four-times ladies champion, and Cobram Barooga as a youngster when “only girl” and “youngest member” were often tags.

She played Division One pennant for Huntingdale in her teens when she moved to Melbourne but a six-year break from the game is also part of her story.

Prompting from husband Felix got her back into the game. Her golf surroundings were all familiar because she’d also returned to the country, where she is a quality controller on the family apple and pear orchard.

Having a tech-savvy young President has advantages for the whole committee.

“Our longest face-to-face meeting has only been one hour and it’s surprising what you get done in a Zoom meeting when you know the link stops after 45 minutes,” she said with a laugh.

The forward-thinking Odell is a wonderful example of what the recent National Volunteer Week represents and age being no barrier to women or men in golf when they grab an opportunity.

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