01 Apr 2021 | Women and girls |

Sometimes heroes are on the course, sometimes they are in the board room…

by Golf Australia

VOTY March winner Metropolitan GC
Elated group of women and mentors at the end of their tuition.

Our March Visionary of the Year winner has been chosen…

Congratulations to the team at The Metropolitan Golf Club for its whole-of-club approach towards long-term systemic change.

The club has won a $500 Drummond Golf voucher and is now in the running to win up to $10,000 worth of products from the latest Callaway REVA product range, designed specifically for women. Our overall Visionary of the Year will be voted upon and announced towards the end of the year.

We heard from Peter Paccagnan, general manager at Metropolitan, about how the club has taken a unified approach to enhancing gender equality.

Here’s the story...

Batman and Robin, the Avengers, the Incredibles and The Metropolitan Golf Club.

What do they all have in common?

They are all superheroes who work together for a common cause!

Taking off their superhero capes and putting on golf polos, the team at Melbourne’s “Metro” have embedded a suite of goals, objectives and targets to progress women’s participation in all aspects of the club through its strategic plan (2019-2023).

And now, most importantly, people throughout the club are working together to achieve a common goal.

“I am not sure we are exactly comparable to Batman and Robin,” jokes Metropolitan’s general manager Peter Paccagnan. “But we definitely have an amazing team here who are, together, achieving some wonderful results.

“Our club has always been progressive. However, we are mindful that you need to do more than just say you’re an inclusive club and equitable with the treatment of both sexes. You need solid programs and pathways in place.”

VOTY March winner Metropolitan GC
Sandie Wright (middle), board member and convenor of Metropolitan's match committee, pictured with fellow program participants Hayley Wright and Kristina Coyle.

In the lead-up to the development of its strategic plan the club knew that, like many others, the profile of its membership was getting older and female membership declining.

“We also had a team of club members revising the newly released equal opportunity guidelines. This provided extra motivation for us to instigate change,” Paccagnan said.

So, the team of ‘Incredibles’ got to work and with extensive consultation across the club – including input from the strategic plan working group – developed a plan that had a great focus on increasing the number of women starting golf, obtaining membership and advancing in positions of leadership.

“We knew it was vital to develop a strategic plan that would make meaningful, lasting and impactful change. We wanted to create opportunities for ownership by various people and groups throughout the club, so it became a whole-of-club approach,” Paccagnan said.

“Now the women’s committee are working on some objectives, along with the membership committee, our PGA professionals, club members and our staff.

“As general manager, my role has been to facilitate this process and help support our committees and staff through setting clear targets. We have four employees at the club who all have a responsibility to support the committees and the strategies – and lead change in their specific area of work.

“These include our golf manager and PGA professional Luke Farry, fellow professional Phoebe Torrance, membership and communications manager Dayle Marshall and golf administration and development assistant Sally Milne.

“We all have our part to play. We have taken it upon ourselves to develop sustainable programs, invest in people to deliver these and adjust position descriptions to focus on delivering and achieving our Vision 2025-relevant targets.”

The club has some over-arching goals set, such as “Target 75”.

“In line with Golf Australia’s Vision 2025 strategy, Target 75 is a strategy to welcome 75 new women members to the club by 2023,” explained Paccagnan.

“As of January 2021, women comprise 25.5% of our membership. An additional 75 women members will enable the club to achieve its target of 28 per cent female membership composition.”

Some examples of how club staff and members are working together to achieve Target 75 include:

  • To recruit new women, Marshall regularly references Target 75 in club communications, encouraging members to reach out to their family and friends

  • To introduce new women to golf, PGA professionals researched and spoke with their peers in the industry to learn about what has worked at other clubs and designed a comprehensive and accessible women’s participation pathway, including Golf Australia’s Get into Golf Women’s program

  • To assimilate new women into club membership, the women’s committee leads a great mentoring program.

VOTY March winner Metropolitan GC
Past women's captain Sue Clark, who was instrumental in starting the women’s tuition program, pictured with program participants Belinda Langdon, Jenny Williams and Hayley Wright.

The club is also working to attract more women into leadership positions.

“We have 70 members in positions of governance at the club and more than 30 per cent of these are currently held by women, including 27 per cent on our board,” Paccagnan said.

“We aim to increase these numbers by identifying people with the right skillset and nurturing them through an induction process. We have also administered some simple solutions, such as moving committee meeting times to evenings so working women can be involved.”

“The main learning from our experience in terms of implementing change is the importance of setting tangible targets, especially those embedded in a strategic plan.”

“Bring everyone on the journey with you. Involve people, committees and groups from all areas of your club to create a whole-of-club approach in both the planning and implementation phase.

“If everyone has clear targets and you have passionate people who take pride in their club and work to progress it, then positive and lasting change will happen.”

Golf Australia provides a free service to support and guide clubs through change management and strategic planning.

Find out more about how you can embed Vision 2025, gender equality goals into your planning at the Vision 2025 section of the Golf Australia website. Alternatively, get in touch with your Clubs & Facilities Support Manager or Regional Development Officer, who will be only too happy to assist you.

Learn more about Visionary of the Year and read about other monthly winning stories here.

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