04 Oct 2023 | Clubs & Facilities |
Twelve months on at Lonsdale Links
by Patrick Taylor
Lonsdale Links on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula has been a signatory of the R&A Women in Golf Charter for over 12 months, and have overseen enormous positive change at the club, both on and off the course.
The club unveiled its new course layout and clubhouse to the delight of members in December 2020 after a $60 million project involving selling off and purchasing new land.
Lonsdale has also overhauled its club governance and introduced new starter programs to boost and diversify membership.
Golf Australia has been encouraging and supporting clubs to become signatories of the charter which aims to increase the number of women and girls playing and working in golf.
General Manager Josh Hall is proud of the changes the club has implemented in the last year upon committing to the charter.
"We've overhauled the complete governance structure of our club," he said.
Where previously Lonsdale had a separate women’s committee to manage women’s golfing affairs, they have integrated this committee and the Match Committee together. All sub-committees are now required to have gender balance.
The executive committee now consists of the president and the captain, who can be any gender, and then six other members, which must have gender balance.
"Consultation was really important to make sure the women members fully understood that they weren't losing something, and rather they were gaining better representation in the club's governance and leadership," Hall said.
Making tangible efforts to focus on gender balance is a key pillar of the R&A charter, and Lonsdale is leading the example for clubs in Australia.
On top of evolving their governance, Lonsdale identified that efforts needed to be made to grow membership.
A new membership category was created for new starters which specifically caters to those wanting to get into golf in a fun and inclusive environment.
It is a seven-month membership program over daylight saving months, with six-day access to the course, full practice facility access, and a range of clinics and coaching programs that they can pick and choose from.
"We had 82 in our first new member program cohort, and 32 of those have gone on to take out a membership this year, which we are absolutely thrilled with," Hall said.
The first program had around 60% female and 40% male participants. With applications for the next program starting this month currently sitting at 120, Hall is confident that Lonsdale is well on its way to gender balanced membership.
The R&A charter, and the clubs who have become signatories, are dedicated to driving actions for women and girls in golf, and Lonsdale serves as an example of best practice, and the magnitude of positive change that can happen in a short time.
To find out more about the charter and what it means to become a signatory, click here.
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