Golf Australia’s second Visionary of the Year winner is Windaroo Lakes Golf Club. The club has increased its women's membership to 33 percent.

Windaroo Lakes Golf Club is Golf Australia's April Visionary of the Year for the exceptional way women are nurtured into the club.

Here's Windaroo Lakes Golf Club's story...

“I used to think it was all about the golf, but now realise golf is essentially a social gathering.”

These are the wise words spoken by long-time PGA Professional Janine Barney of Windaroo Lakes Golf Club, situated half-way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Like most PGA Professionals, Janine’s role consists of coaching golf at the club.

However, with the club appointing Janine as ‘Women’s Golf Coordinator’ she has the privilege of focusing on a specific agenda that is paying dividends for the club.

Janine has always been passionate about the women’s beginner space, having run a very successful Golf Fore Women program since 2014.

After years of continued growth, the club formalised Janine’s role as women’s coordinator giving her more capacity to expand the women’s participation pathway and ensure a high transition rate into membership.

“Through my role, I have the ability to focus on so many things that are vital to attracting and retaining women in golf,” Barney said.

“Simply prioritising time to sit with women after a clinic and chat over a coffee plays such a huge role in making women feel welcome and part of the club.”

Fostering a partnership with the local council

Barney’s role does not solely consist of latte-sipping; everything from fostering a partnership with local council, to running on-course sessions, to developing female community instructors, to managing a Facebook group that connects women with each other falls under her role description.

“Aligning with Logan City Council and its Active & Healthy program has enabled us to attract about six new women to come and try golf each week. These are women we would not have contact with otherwise,” she said.

“Council also subsidises the cost of participation taking away a financial barrier to someone wanting a taste of the sport.” Barney also runs three ‘Chip and Sip’ events each year that attract large numbers of women.

“Our Chip and Sip events were ultimately organised as a fundraising activity for charities such as Breast Cancer Network,” she said.

“It is all centered around a fun afternoon out playing a shortened 9-hole course whilst sipping wine and socialising.

“These events have surprisingly become our main recruitment tool for new women as they generally attract friends-of-friends and women who identify with the fundraising cause.”

Up to 60 women participating every week

Registrations for all the club’s programs were growing so large (up to 60 women participating per week) that Janine started actively seeking women within the club to become Community Instructors and assist in the delivery.

“My advice to others is to approach women who have a natural friendly manner.

“For me this was two Golf Fore Women graduates. They have been a terrific asset, especially when we generate so much interest with our $5 come-and-try clinics.”

Following clinics, Janine offers on-course lessons for groups of four women at a time, plus larger on-course events whereby club members help.

“It is all about nurturing these women to become confident to take the step from clinics to playing on-course.

“We run regular sessions on weekends so working women can play plus weekdays. Plus, we time play so that beginners end up in the clubhouse the same time as our women’s competition do.

“This is all a part of integrating women into the club.”

Golf Fore Women membership

Integration does not stop there, with the club adopting a special introductory ‘Golf Fore Women’ membership. This one-year membership gives women access to a heavily discounted rate and provides women with the opportunity to play during off-peak times.

With more women at the club year-to-year, Barney has noticed a change in the club’s culture.

“One of my proudest achievements is seeing women feeling like they truly belong.

“There are many examples I have of women historically not feeling comfortable to come into the clubhouse to pick up their husbands or enjoy a meal.

“Now we have groups of women coming for dinner who used to go elsewhere, and wives coming inside and being greeted by name.”

To continue working to evolve a culture set up by -- and for – men as is the case at most clubs, Windaroo has recently become a signatory to the Women in Golf Charter.

“I am very proud of what our club has achieved and look forward to working on more strategies associated with the charter and continue making golf a sport of choice for women.”

Proud - Janine and the club should be!

This year alone the club has attracted 30 new Golf Fore Women members and has increased its women’s membership to 33 percent (15 percent above the national average).

Useful resources

Golf Fore Women brings women together to enjoy golf and its many social benefits. Windaroo Lakes Golf Club has kindly offered to share some resources to help other clubs attract, retain, nurture, and support the growth of women in golf.

Download Golf Fore Women pathway summary here
Download ‘Chip and Sip’ guide here

Windaroo Lakes Golf Club's prize

Windaroo Lakes Golf Club wins a $500 Drummond Golf 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. Golf Australia’s Visionary of the Year will be voted upon and announced towards the end of the year.

Nominations for the remainder of the year are still open. Click here for the nomination form.

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

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.