10 Nov 2023 | Women and girls | Participation | Clubs and Facilities |

Townsville Golf Club women’s move has Karrie's tick of approval

by Jimmy Emanuel

Karrie Webb

Established in 1893, Townsville Golf Club is one of Australia’s oldest clubs, and Queensland’s first golf club continues to modernise as one of the latest signatories of the R&A Women in Golf Charter, signifying its commitment to women’s golf.

One of an expanding number of clubs around the country to become a signatory of the charter that aims to encourage more women and girls into playing golf and enjoying successful careers in the sport, Townsville’s very well-known club patron is right behind the move.

“I think it is great that they have made a commitment and I think any golf board would like to see more women have the courage to be on the board and have a say,” seven-time major winner Karrie Webb said.

“I’d love to see that with Townsville, and I think that only starts to help when there are women in leadership at clubs, and more women want to join the club.

“I think Townsville knows that is where their growth is, to get more women playing golf and this is a big step to encouraging that, which I am really glad to see.”

As a member of the Golf Australia Steering Group which provides guidance on Vision 2025: the Future of Women and Girls in Golf strategy, Webb is part of driving programs like the R&A Women in Golf Charter.

No place is more important than at one of her “local” clubs in Townsville, where she is an honorary member.

Webb’s focus on her own backyard of North Queensland extends more broadly across Australia with the stated mission to make golf a more welcoming and less intimidating place for women as a guiding principle.

Currently Townsville has one woman on its management committee in Jacinta Foley, who is also involved in what is known as the “Women’s Working Group” at the club that looks to find ways to heighten enjoyment for women and make the game fit in with their lifestyle.

“I think all credit goes to the club for recognising that the way we are going to get more women participating is a whole club approach,” Foley said.

“The more women that play, the better the club is placed.

“I guess that comes from having the voice of the women in our management committee and then coming down within our sub-committees.”

Engaging Golf Australia to move towards becoming a signatory of the R&A Women in Golf Charter, Townsville Golf Club is now well placed to continue to improve its offering for women, with a commitment to actions over the next 12 months part of becoming a signatory and Webb as key player.

“It is a huge milestone, because having someone of her status, expertise, she is such a good role model for our younger girls and she comes and plays with some of our juniors, and our regular members and it is just fabulous,” Foley said of the winner of 56 events worldwide.

The ongoing effort to adapt and be more inclusive at Townsville is similar to other clubs around Australia, with Webb encouraged by the move from a club she is involved with.

“I think Australia should be really proud in the work that they are doing,” Webb said.

“For many years, there was lots of talk about what should be done, but that was where it ended.

“Probably in the last five to seven years, there has really been some action behind that and even more broadly with the R&A too.”

Acknowledging the need to not “let the foot off the pedal” with the improvements in the women’s golf space and with clubs signing the Charter in greater numbers, Webb’s sentiment is reinforced by the action plan at Townsville.

“Townsville Golf Club has recognised the need to improve our membership base, particularly with regard to women and girls,” Foley said.

“So we took the opportunity to work with Golf Australia to come up with an action plan that met our needs as a club for us to try and overcome some of the historical disadvantages and underrepresentation of women playing golf.”

Through its established programs and with a view towards increasing the involvement of women in its management structure, Townsville is certainly on the right track that the Women in Golf Charter sets out.

One Webb hopes will help alleviate the courage required for women new to the game.

“It’s just a great place to come out and have a hit and with the changes they have made out there, including a new clubhouse, it has a really good feel about it now,” Webb said.

The adoption of the Women in Golf Charter in Australia provides an excellent opportunity for clubs, organisations and communities to join forces and collectively attract more women and girls to golf.

To submit an expression of interest for your club to become a Women in Golf Charter signatory, please register here.

From there Golf Australia will arrange a brief meeting with your local Golf Australia representative.

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