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Strategy for Golf in West Gippsland

Golf West Gippsland (GWG) has recently developed and launched their new Strategic Plan for 2024-2027.

With the rapid expansion of golf globally, GWG is committed to providing support to district golf clubs to increase participation and develop pathways to grow the game into the future.   

There is a false perception in the community that GWG is only there for the elite golfers who play Pennant and attend Country teams.   Along with Golf Australia (GA), GWG aim to inspire more people to play golf.  

Their shared philosophies that “All golf is golf and all of us can be golfers”, and “Golf is a sport for life and fun for all” will underpin future initiatives.

The GWG district includes the following members clubs: Churchill-Monash, Drouin, Garfield, Mirboo North, Moe, Morwell, Trafalgar, Traralgon, Warragul and Yallourn. Across the district clubs there is considerable diversity in size, membership, resources, and capacity to implement change.  Under the guidance of Golf Australia, GWG has consulted with district clubs to prepare a strategy where teamwork is the central theme. Rather than having clubs operate in their own little silo, GWG will create opportunities for everyone to come together to develop and deliver programs that will benefit golf for the whole region.

Data from across Australia has revealed an urgent need for action to increase the participation rates of both juniors and women in our sport.  At a local level the participation rate of women across GWG was well below the average female participation in regional Victoria.  Junior numbers have dropped significantly over the last 15 to 20-years.   Previously all clubs in the district had one or two junior pennant teams of six or seven juniors, in 2023 two juniors played pennant.

To address these imbalances GWG will intentionally target juniors and women’s participation in their strategic actions but keen to see growth across all ages and genders.

GWG has become the first district to sign the Women in Golf Charter.  Golf Australia Victorian Clubs and Facilities Manager, Chris Crabbe, explains the Women in Golf Charter the following ways.

“It’s a commitment to increasing the representation of women and girls across all levels of the sport, obviously we would like to see more women and girls playing but it’s also about increasing female representation in leadership roles and providing more career opportunities. To do this we need to change the way we think about women’s golf.

“The piece that holds most districts back from being signatories to the Women in Golf Charter is their women’s championships, most of which are played during the week, whereas Golf West Gippsland play their men’s and women’s championships all on the weekend. So, it opens it up for everyone to be able to play.”

The Women in Golf Charter will support clubs to target specific areas. Across GWG clubs we are beginning to see many creative and innovative approaches being developed by clubs to encourage women into golf.  These include- Get Into Golf clinics, Multi day Championships and Monthly Medal options for women who work, social events such as “Play Nine and have a Wine,”“$5 for five holes”, these are great social appetisers to bring people into our game.  As a district we aim to share ideas and support clubs as they experiment with new ways to attract new people to play and hopefully some will become members.

GWG has recently appointed Stewart Cluning, from Trafalgar Golf Club as GWG Junior Coordinator. Stewart will actively engage with clubs to build the capacity of Community Instructors and develop plans and approaches to support junior participation with coaching and events.   

To encourage and support clubs, GWG are offering each club a one-off grant of up to $2000. This, along with grant opportunities from the Victorian Golf Foundation will be of great benefit to local clubs and enable them to start or expand programs for juniors.

As with every community and sporting group, volunteer support is essential. With the help of golf professionals and local Community instructors, volunteers can participate in programs with greater confidence.

Golf as a game is suited to all ages and skill levels. You don’t have to be particularly good at it to have enormous fun and there is no doubting the benefits of golf for individuals.  It can however, be an intimidating game especially for new golfers.  It is important for clubs to keep ‘fun in the game’ as we engage with people who are new to our sport.

GWG have recently held a Board Appreciation Day to celebrate and value the considerable work undertaken by local Boards. The day provided a different experience for participants, golf challenges and activities with a minor competitive element. At the conclusion of the event the GWG Strategic Plan for 2024-27 was released. This plan, along with the extensive golf calendar for GWG and Open club events can be found on the recently re developed GWG website.

We will look forward working with all clubs as we grow our great game.

Will Hanrahan

Chairperson Golf West Gippsland