12 Mar 2020 | Women and girls |

Trafalgar joins spirit of equality in golf

by Martin Blake

Trafalgar golf
Four of the participants in the open family four-ball at Trafalgar: from left Scott McKinnon with daughter Matilda and Narelle Savige with mother Heather.

Many Australian golf clubs are on board with the principles of Vision 2025, the national strategy to increase numbers of women and girls in the game, and Even Par, the instrument of that strategy.

But some of them don’t know what to do.

Fortunately, a few clubs have taken the proactive approach. Trafalgar Golf Club in eastern Victoria is one. It’s a small thing in the bigger scheme of golf; but symbolically, it’s important.

Not so long ago after he’d attended one of the Vision 2025 roadshow events hosted by Chyloe Kurdas, Golf Australia’s female engagement senior manager, Trafalgar’s president Stewart Cluning noticed a particular honour board in the clubhouse.

The Kevin Barr father-son four-ball event had been running since 1981 at Trafalgar, one of the highlights of the calendar.

Cluning’s mind started ticking. Why not make it a mixed event, for father-daughter pairs, mother-daughter pairs, even grandparents and grandchildren?

He approached Darrell Williams, the former club president and friend of the Barr family who provided most of the backing for the event, and asked. Williams was happy to allow the change.

As a result, the reconstituted Kevin Barr Memorial Parent & Child 4BBB will make its debut on April 18. The club has received a great response. Heather Savige is playing with her daughter Narelle; Scott McKinnon’s teeing it up with his daughter Matilda. There are many more all-family pairings as well.

“The easy out was leave it,” said Cluning. “When we went to the Vision 2025 roadshow last year and we had a couple of committee meetings, I looked at the honour boards and I thought: ‘Gee, there’s one staring us in the face to think about’.

“The second driver was that we have a lot of kids in our junior program that we started about 18 months ago and there were a lot of father-daughters. The girls were getting into golf and I thought ‘there aren’t that many opportunities available to that combination’. We put two and two together and said: ‘This doesn’t have to be like this forever’.’’

Cluning said his club wanted to provide equal opportunity as a matter of course.

“If they challenge themselves to ask, there’s probably more appetite out there for this kind of thing than people realise. That’s my message to other presidents: ‘Don’t be afraid to ask, because you might be surprised at the appetite in the clubs for changes’.

“You don’t have to do a lot, but it makes a huge difference It brings together the young and the old, the men’s committee and the ladies’ committee. It’s an all-of-club approach.”

Cluning is a believer in the notion that women and girls represent the great potential growth area for the game, now that Australian golf is working to remove barriers.

“There’s this unconscious bias in clubs,” he said. “People call it tradition, but it’s not really tradition. It’s just the way things have always been done. I’ve challenged my club ‘just because it’s always been done like that doesn’t make it right’.’’


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