Kingston Heath has elected its first female president in more than 100 years of history.
Nikki McClure, past women’s captain of the club for three years and also a board member of Golf Victoria, took the chair at Kingston Heath Golf Club’s annual general meeting last weekend.
She is not the first female president of a Melbourne Sandbelt Club – but in the overall context, the elevation of a woman to a senior position remains significant.
Vision 2025, Golf Australia’s strategy for female engagement released in 2018, argues for the promotion of more women to leadership positions in golf, and McClure believes that the tide is turning.
“They’re thrilled,” said McClure this week. “Members stop to offer congratulations and encouragement. Our members are the heart and soul of our club and are more than ready to embrace change”.
A growing passion for golf
McClure has spent her working life in the fitness industry through her family ownership of Life Fitness Australia, but more recently indulged her passion for golf through playing and through her blog, Fairway Birdies - For Women In golf, which promotes golfing pathways at grassroots level.
“I’ve been supporting women’s golf for six years. What started as a hobby encouraged by my children has turned into a platform where women new to the game can find their own pathways through community-based programs”.
She believes that carefully-constructed programs are the key to growing the game via female engagement.
“Where I sit, my life is golf, and many of my friends now play golf, but there is always constant enquiry from others looking for grassroots programs”.
The Heath Gateway Program
The initiation of a similar program at KHGC named The Heath Gateway Program has been extremely successful, resulting in 34 new female members since 2019, increasing the club's women's membership to 28 percent.
"I still feel like there are opportunities out there for us to really grow and drive the game," she said. "I know the game itself is addictive but the stories we hear about and the impact it has on people's lives should be our marketing campaign. That’s how I see golf.
"Everybody should have the right to take up the game in any format. We just need to create the pathways and the opportunities for them so that it’s easy for them to engage with”.
The new KHGC president was delighted with the recent success of the Australian Golf Foundation’s girls’ scholarships, which grew exponentially, and were successful at her club too.
“The reaction was overwhelming,” she said. “The members love seeing the girls out there especially playing with their families.”
The original blog is on the Golf Australia website here.