09 May 2024 | Australian Golf Foundation |

AGF scholarships: Trafalgar hits the jackpot in schools

by Martin Blake

Trafalgar AGF girls image
AGF scholars at Trafalgar, from left Summer Al Najar, Jasmine Dunbar, Tilly Allen, Ella Speed and Isabella de Haas.

A positive connection with local schools and the power of the Australian Golf Foundation Girls Scholarship Program are helping to reinvigorate Trafalgar Golf Club in eastern Victoria.

The Gippsland club has another batch of AGF scholars engaging in the sport on Saturday afternoons this autumn, having worked wonders in the junior space last year by collaborating with two primary schools in the area.

In particular hundreds of students at Trafalgar Primary School and Yarragon Primary School have had the benefit of the expertise of qualified Community Instructors Stewart Cluning and Di Moody.

The instructors talent-identified students from those clinics and as a result, five found their way through to the AGF scholarship program at Trafalgar.

For the little club based in a bushland setting eight kilometres out of the town, the journey to better engage with women and girls began five years ago with a government grant to buy some sets of clubs and conduct Get Into Golf Clinics.

Recently Trafalgar became a signatory to the R&A Women in Golf Charter to confirm its commitment to the cause.

One of the bonuses of the AGF programs is that they have alerted local residents to the existence of the golf club, and at the same time reminded the golf club that its somewhat remote location is an issue.

“It’s been interesting to hear people come out to the club and they say ‘I didn’t even know this was here’,” says Anne Outhred, Trafalgar’s women’s captain.

“That’s been a nice thing, to be able to showcase the club. It highlighted for us how remote we are from the community. If you’re not involved in golf, you might now know we’re there.”

Trafalgar has focused on inclusion, and a welcoming attitude. Outhred in her leadership role has railed against overly-restrictive rules on attire, telling the girls to make themselves comfortable and safe.

Cluning as the instructor was on the same page. “We taught the basics and we broke down any barriers,” he said. “They didn’t need to worry about ethnic group, social-economic group, any of that.”

Outhred says having the girls around the club gives it a different feel, and a positive vibe. When the AGF scholars are brought in to spend time with the members during Wednesday competition, the existing players embraced the beginners.

“They know where the golf club is, tick,” said Outhred. “They know how to find the place, where the facilities are. Thinking about it from an adult perspective, I had nothing to do with golf until I retired, and stepping out of the car into the clubhouse was the biggest challenge for me as a 58-year-old.

“We can’t understand how hard that is at times. We tend to be dismissive about it. We need to put in place little things that bridge that gap. Our club does that very well. I think we recognise that if we don’t, we are in trouble.”

What is completely unknown is what the longer-term impact upon a club like Trafalgar will be. But in the short-term, it has around 15 junior girl members now, compared to zero just a short few years ago.

Farther ahead, Outhred anticipates that inevitably, some of the girls will move on to other pursuits or move away from the town following school.

But she was gratified by an anecdote passed on by a Trafalgar member recently which told of an AGF scholar who had formed a stronger bond with a golfing grandparent through taking up sport, the girl suddenly blossoming socially and also finding common topics of conversation with her neighbours.

“That was a powerful message and one that you don’t always get to hear about,” she said. “A young girl finding other people in her community that she could talk to and identify with, I suppose. It’s the connection for the neighbour and the girl and the connection for the girl and the grandfather.”

For Trafalgar and Anne Outhred, they are taking on the challenge. “I’d rather be damned for trying, than damned for not,” she said.

THE AGF GIRLS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM for girls aged 9-16 enables girls around Australia to begin or continue their golfing journeys under the watchful eyes of qualified PGA Professionals or Community Instructors. Designed to foster a deep love of golf, the program nurtures strong bonds between the participants while developing invaluable life skills such as perseverance, etiquette, concentration and cooperation. Scholarship graduates may also continue to develop their golf through enrolling in courses at the PGA Learning Hub, including the PGA Academy membership pathway program to pursue a career in golf.

Information on the AGF girls scholarship program

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