Golf Australia’s July Visionary of the Year winner is Medway Golf Club who have developed a seamless participation pathway for women.

The story of Medway Golf Club and the mindset of its people demonstrates the power of having a positive and aligned belief.

“We are here to stay.”

These were Brett Scothern, General Manager at Medway Golf Club, thoughts upon being asked about the longevity of the club’s Vision 2025 sub-committee. He continued:

“The creation of this committee is our way of saying gender equality is important and ensuring we never become complacent – always thinking about how we can improve.”

Upon attending a Golf Business Forum in 2018, Scothern, by chance, was in the auditorium when he heard a presentation by Golf Australia about gender equality in golf.

“Like most clubs, we had a considerable imbalance of female to male membership.

“It was at this time that I was really inspired to do something about this - plus, it really is a no-brainer that women are an untapped market.”

Golf Australia's Even Par program

At the same time, Golf Australia were recruiting clubs for its Even Par program - a program that aimed to support golf clubs to facilitate gender equality in golf and the broader community.

For some, the buck would stop here due to a lack of key drivers to bring inspiration to fruition. But there has been a team of people at Medway, including Jill Gillingham (former Women’s Captain) Jenny Kelly (current Women’s Captain), Stacie Gull (Board Member) and Alex Pitty (PGA Professional) who have ensured this important work has gone ahead.

With nothing but support from the Board, the club signed up to Even Par and the club’s Vision 2025 sub-committee was formed.

Sharna Faralla, regional development officer at Golf Australia said:

“The mindset of the club, it’s leadership, members and PGA professional has been remarkable. Medway have always shown such a positive outlook in doing what they can to increase participation.

“Importantly, it has been a whole-of-club approach and they have no qualms in engaging key stakeholders and accessing extremal resources and services to help bring their vision to fruition.”

The Club’s Even Par Vision…

‘Growing women’s golf and providing a pathway for new women golfers.’

As an ex-PGA Professional, Scothern felt he had a fairly good understanding about the experience of women starting golf – how intimidating it can be, and the common stages women tended to drop off. But by working with Stacie Gull who sits on the Board and Jill Gillingham, who was the Women’s Captain at the time, proved to be an invaluable experience as they were able to provide additional insight into a women’s golf journey.

Together they mapped out how the entire participation pathway would look from women learning the basic skills through to full membership. The team also identified common barriers women face along the pathway and worked to ensure plenty of nuances along the way.

Scothern explains:

“We know that cost and equipment can be a barrier to getting started. And then, many women tend to not progress past clinics as the step to on-course play and membership is too daunting.

“So, we introduced a 4-tier pathway that is all showcased on our club website. This step-by-step pathway is all mapped out with information about activity associated with each level, costs involved, golfing ability associated with that level and how long a person remains at that level in general.

“It takes women on a journey from clinics to an on-course mentoring program, a trial membership and then traditional membership. Women can take up to three years to work their way through the levels before joining full fee memberships.

“We figure 3 years is a good amount of time for someone to get to know how the club works, foster friendships which is often the thing that keeps women at a club and feel comfortable at the club.”

Creating a club that is welcoming to all women

Key nuances the club has adopted to ensure women are supported, made to feel welcome and catered for include:

  • Clinics are offered at various times throughout the week, including out of office hours
  • Equipment is provided throughout levels 1-2
  • Current female members are involved to foster friendships and familiarity at the club
  • An exceptional trial membership is offered
  • When women are ready to sign-up to traditional memberships and play competitions, equal access is provided.

Medway has developed a seamless and strong pathway with 80 women going through clinics (level 1) in the past 3 years, 50 progressing into the on-course mentoring program known as 5 for 5 ($5 for 5 holes) and 33 women signing up to the trial membership.

They put a time-limit on each level to ensure women continue to transition. Scothern explains:

“So, come October when it is time for women on trial-membership to progress to full membership, we hope to get good buy-in. Early indications looks like we attract 6-8 new female members every 6 months.”

This constant stream of new female members is attributable to the sustainability of the program.

Plans for the future at Medway Golf Club

The club plans to start a series of clinics every Spring and Autumn and cleverly are linking in with their local council’s “Active Maribyrnong, Get Active” campaign.

They recruited 40 new women to their first series of clinics by linking in with Maribyrnong City Council’s “Get Active” campaign that encourages local women to get active. They plan to continue doing this as it is a great way to connect with women outside of our club.

Most importantly, the pathway is now ingrained within the club with full support from the board, club members and the PGA professional team.

With an estimate of 30-50 new women coming through the program each year, the positive and aligned mindset of so many people at Medway Golf Club is now paying off.

Medway Golf Club win a $500 Drummond Golf voucher and are now in the running to win up to $10,000 worth of products from the latest Callaway REVA product range, designed specifically for women. Golf Australia’s Visionary of the Year will be voted upon and announced towards the end of the year.

Read the original article via Golf Australia’s website here.