By Serrin Bertino
Our third Visionary of the Year winner for 2023 has been chosen...
Congratulations to Devonport Country Club for their holistic and informed approach towards gender equality at the club.
The club has won a $500 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. Our overall Visionary of the Year will be voted upon and announced towards the end of the year. Here’s their story...
Five years ago, Devonport Golf Club in Tasmania’s north-west took on a new venture and amalgamated with Devonport Croquet Club and Spreyton Bowls Club.
“It was time to do things differently,” said Helen Plaister, member of the club and Vision 2025 committee member.
“We saw this time as an opportunity to revise what had traditionally been done because remaining on the same path would see a continued decline in female golf membership.”
The club is now known as Devonport Country Club.
Following this move for change, the club sought out an array of resources to support them with its endeavours.
The Australian Golf Vision 2025 strategy (now known as Women and Girls Engagement Plan) was being launched and after attending an information session, the club was quick to form a Vision 2025 sub-committee that would lead gender equality work.
This included developing an action plan that focused on creating more opportunities for participation and leadership for women at their club. This was created using Golf Australia’s Even Par program. A program aimed to support golf clubs to facilitate gender equality in golf and the broader community.
Golf Committee members were also proactive - gathering information to inform best practice by reading Visionary of the Year case studies and participating in an online women’s development webinar, hosted by Golf Australia.
“We took a lot of learnings and inspiration away from hearing about what has worked well in both country and metropolitan clubs,” said Plaister.
“Seeing that these clubs could make change, inspired us to do the same.”
Following their research and developing a clear action plan, which identified key people to drive this change, the club was in a good position to make an informed and impactful change.
This coordinated approach has resulted in Devonport Country Club becoming one of Australia’s first R&A Women in Golf Charter Signatories., an accolade that publicly states a club’s commitment to improving the golf experience for women & girls.
Further accomplishments the club and it’s Vision 2025 committee have achieved, include:
A balanced board
The revision of the club’s constitution, by-laws, and terms of reference (TOR) has resulted in equal representation of women and men on their board.
“Progressing from a culture where the expectation was that women sat on the ladies committee and men on the main club board is a big win,” said Plaister.
“We are excited to move ahead as a club where women now have a voice, and a diverse input will result in better outcomes for everyone.” Inclusive championships and competitions
Embracing a multi-day club championship, where women and girls can compete on a weekday, or weekend. This opens access to play, especially for working women and girls studying.
Open gender competitions, with equal distribution of prizes have also been adopted.
“The uptake of women playing on a Saturday has been substantial and we are pleased that this will be a playing option for our junior girls in the future as they progress their golf,” said Plaister. Australian Golf Foundation Junior Girls Golf Scholarship
The club is thrilled to become a deliverer of the program that brings together groups of girls to pursue their golf. The scholarship entails membership and weekly tuition.
“It was a substantial effort to recruit our first group of girls, but we foresee this program gaining momentum and growing,” said Plaister. A welcoming and supportive pathway for beginners
The club has adopted Get into Golf initiatives, ‘Chip and Chat’ and ‘March into Golf’.
Both programs provide women with an opportunity to enjoy clinics and on-course play, plus a buddy system and further opportunities for socialisation.
“The key to these programs is the personal touch,” said Plaister.
“The role of our women’s committee has been revised to focus on managing our Vision 2025 programs.
“Part of this is ensuring every woman who comes to the club as a trial is phoned and invited back for upcoming social events and programs."
Upon reflection, Plaister is proud of the club’s progress to date and is exceptionally grateful to the Vision 2025 committee for their continued leadership and drive in making such positive changes for all club members.
“It is easy to get bogged down in the work,” Plaister said.
“And it has been a lot of work to get to where we are, but it is important to stop, celebrate and share your wins. After learning from previous Visionary of the Year winners, Devonport Country Club has come a long way. It now has a story which can educate and inspire others.
Plaister shares the following learnings and advice:
“Identify those people who are committed to make change and create a supportive environment for them to do so.”
“Planning is key. A lot of the work has already been done. You just need to access the resources available to you through Golf Australia such as Visionary of the Year case studies.”
“Change can be slow. It is not a matter of coming into a club and throwing everything out. You need to make subtle changes on a gradual basis. It is about educating people and not dismissing or disrespecting past traditions, but more so building upon it.”
“Ensure that your beginner programs are all about fun and connection with no pressure to become a member.”
“Celebrate and share your successes with key people, committees, and members of your club. Our Vision 2025 committee update the board monthly. We also conduct a mid-year review then plan for the year ahead ensuring we work with members of various committees within the club.”
Key links and resources
Become a Get into Golf centre here
Learn more about Australian Golf Foundation Junior Girls Scholarship program 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
Learn more about Women in Golf Charter, including case studies here Women in Golf Charter | Golf Australia
Golf Australia provides a free service to support and guide clubs through change management and strategic planning. Find out more about how you can embed gender equality goals into your planning via the Golf Australia Website . Alternatively, get in touch with your Places to Play Support Manager or Regional Development Officer, who will be only too happy to assist you.
Submit a Visionary of the Year nomination here Visionary of the Year Nomination Form 2023 Survey (surveymonkey.com)