06 Oct 2023 | Women and girls |

Visionary of the Year: Northern's brave new world

by Australian Golf Media

Northern GC visionary images
The women of Northern have made it happen (left); and at right, Carla Shulz has drawn together the 'Newbies'.

Our September Visionary of the Year winner for 2023 has been chosen...

Congratulations to the team at Northern Golf Club for their ongoing commitment to gender equality. The club has won a $500 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.

Here’s their story...

The work Northern Golf Club has done in the gender equality space is no secret to Golf Australia (GA).

In fact, the club, that resides just 12km from Melbourne’s CBD, was recognised by GA for its outstanding work towards breaking down barriers to women’s participation back in 2019 (see video case study).

Prior to this the club established a participation committee to concentrate on the recruitment and retention of women at the club.

This story reveals how the club continues to evolve and achieve in this area of work.

A new reason for celebration is the introduction of Carla Schulz.

For 16 years, Schulz enjoyed running on the path around the course, however never dared venture inside.

Schulz’ mindset started to shift however upon seeing a ‘this girl can’ sign along the track during Covid and by February 2022, she dared to sign-up and try golf.

“Being a private club, it was quite daunting and honestly scary,” said Schulz.

“Whilst the members were very friendly and welcoming, I felt I had more in common with the women in the clinic as we were all beginners.”

This prompted Schulz to establish a WhatsApp group named ‘Northern Newbies’.

This connected Schulz and the other beginners at the club.

Fast forward two years, and Schulz has joined the women’s participation committee, and Northern Newbies has over 50 WhatsApp users.

“Through the WhatsApp Group, we run lots of activities that help foster friendships,” said Schulz.

“As we know that these friendships keep women at the club, more so than the golf.”

Northern Newbies has now expanded from a simple chat group, to a platform that shares information about activities to keep women engaged.

This includes:

  • A regular table for “newbies” at the club’s members draw evenings;

  • Weekly Women’s Get into Golf clinics: hosted by PGA Professional Heath Bensted and his team;

  • Get on Course programs for new players;

  • Golf trips away;

  • Rules and etiquette events with a social function to conclude;

  • Thought-provoking messages encouraging women to think about leadership positions within the club.

These programs, in addition to the seamless pathway the club has evolved over years (from clinics to a step-by-step membership structure), has resulted in a four percent growth of full-playing women’s membership over four years.

Helen Moloney, board member and chair of the participation committee explains: “We have many women visit us from public courses who say they will do clinics and try the pathway membership, but will probably not join.

“However, once they start participating in the social activities, they thoroughly enjoy our club culture and stay.”

In addition to full-playing memberships, the club consistently has 40-50 women coming through the temporary membership and pro-rata at any one time.

The success the club and the participation committee is having with women’s participation can partially be put down to the fact that the committee engages the whole club.

A mix of female and male members sit on the committee, including the club professional, members of the board and at least one beginner golfer.

The board has also been supportive of the club adopting a special measure through the AHRC Guidelines to continue to waiver the women’s joining fee enabling us to attract more women to join.

Actively promoting opportunities for women to join the board or other positions of leadership remains a top priority of the club.

Pleasingly, the club has evolved from having no women representatives five years ago, to now having three sit on the board.

“This has been a really positive shift,” said Moloney.

“After updating our constitution a few years ago to ensure representation of at least two women on our board, it has been a positive for women to have a voice,” she said.

“Not only for women’s benefit, but the club as a whole.”

Northern Golf Club has been proactive in connecting with its national body to seek support and guidance having adopted all of Golf Australia’s gender equality programs.

The most recent are the R&A Women in Golf Charter. Women in Golf Charter | Golf Australia

“These programs have been phenomenal in getting our club started on the pathway to gender parity,” said Moloney.

“They have given us the information, the tools to continue evolving and the ability to report back to our board.

“I encourage other clubs to look into these programs and work with our state and national golf organisations to get more women playing our wonderful game.”

Learn more about Visionary of the Year, including what other clubs are doing in the gender equality space here Vision 2025 Resources | Golf Australia

Submit a Visionary of the Year nomination here Visionary of the Year Nomination Form 2023 Survey (surveymonkey.com)

Learn more about Women in Golf Charter, including case studies here Women in Golf Charter | Golf Australia

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 gender equality goals into your planning via the Golf Australia Website .

Alternatively, get in touch with your Places to Play Support Manager or Regional Development Officer, who will be only too happy to assist you. 

Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions.

Related News

Golf Australia NEW LOGO White Mono_logo
Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions!