14 Sep 2023 | Clubs and Facilities |

Younger generation leading the charge at Southport Golf Club

by Patrick Taylor

Luke Newman
Luke Newman. Photo Supplied: Southport Golf Club

Luke Newman's journey from a junior member to a director on the board of Southport Golf Club is a testament to the club's commitment to inclusiveness and the empowerment of younger members.

Newman was initially hesitant when he first heard about the “next generation” initiative being put forward at Southport, his golf home of 14 years. But now that he is literally on board, he sees the value in what it brings to help his club.

The 30-year-old is the newest board member at the Gold Coast club, and is leading a group of young members looking to offer a fresh perspective on club governance.

Newman has played in pennant teams, been involved in inter-club activities, but admitted that when Southport’s next generation committee initiative was first introduced, he took some convincing.

The committee was started in 2020 as a response to younger members wishing to be more involved in the club and has encouraged these younger members to have their say on club governance and attract them to the board.

The next generation committee has since grown to 10-plus members aged 30-45. They hold monthly meetings hosted by Newman who then expresses the committee’s ideas and feelings to the board.

“I’ll take the same issues the board is discussing for the month to the next-gen committee and ask, ‘what would our perspective be on this’, you know that 25-45 age bracket,” he said.

The next generation committee have also taken the reigns on events and promotions of interest to younger members. They organised the “Balter Bolt”, a nine-hole team event on Friday afternoons, and club participation in The Longest Day charity event.

Newman outlined that having a younger voice had been beneficial across a wide variety of club activities. Celebrating its centenary next year, Southport has turned to the next-gen committee for advice on everything from event planning to specialised merchandise.

This sub-committee and their meetings, while encouraging young members to have an interest on being on the board, also allow members, who do not have the time to devote to being a full-time board member, to still have their say.

One of the main goals of Newman and the next-gen committee is to make their club and golf in general more inclusive. Newman is especially passionate about improving gender inclusivity, and says Southport is moving in the direction of genderless tees, and genderless memberships, a positive step forward for the historic club.

While Newman is likely to be an inspiration for future young members to step up, he credits current general manager Bernadette Lance with encouraging him to join the board.

“[Lance] being quite a young general manager, and also working her way up through the golf club, she always encouraged me,” he said.

“The way she’s looking at adapting golf, especially as a woman, she’s got a different perspective than previous general managers.”

Newman’s positive experience and the success of the next-gen initiative at Southport Golf Club serve as a recommendation for other clubs to adopt a similar approach.

By involving younger members in decision-making processes and giving them a voice, clubs can foster a sense of unity, bridge generational gaps, and ensure a vibrant future for golf.

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