GET ON COURSE, LADIES…
The transition from beginner clinics to on-course play can be fraught without a helping hand. JANELLE WARD looks at a pilot program devised by Golf Victoria to make things a lot easier for women starting out in golf.
Every golfer stands over the ball on the first tee and nervously hopes he or she will hit a decent shot to get the round underway.
So spare a thought for the beginner who can feel the eyes of anyone within 200 metres burning a hole in the back of the head as they make their way to the tee.
Making the transition from clinic to course can be a test of courage. But that no longer needs to be the case – for women, at least.
Golf Victoria has created a pilot program for female beginners aimed at helping them develop the confidence and skills to get on course – to take air shots, lost balls and a plethora of rules in their stride… and have fun.
Course management is a big part of the Get On Course program.
Appropriately, it’s called Get On Course and Golf Victoria is understandably excited about its capacity to get more women playing regular golf.
The Get On Course program was developed in line with the 2015 Australian Golf Landscape research, which showed that key needs to generate more play centre on fun and social options, followed by options to play a shorter game, connection with the
people with whom we play, and a clear pathway for learning and development.
Get On Course meets all of these key needs.
While the program is still in its infancy – it was launched in mid-June and has had to contend with a bleaker than usual Melbourne winter – it is already empowering women beginner golfers across Melbourne.
Get On Course is offered at eight public courses – Northcote, Brighton, Riverside, Ivanhoe, Altona Lakes, Glen Waverley, Elsternwick and Oakleigh, which are run by Leisure Management Services. Golf Victoria Development Manager Ben Sweeney explains that these courses offer great flexibility with playing times, a relaxed atmosphere, and generally have a driving range.
He emphasises that Get On Course builds on the foundation established by excellent beginner programs such as those run by Jody Hawkins at Altona Lakes and Robyn Sottile at Riverside.
“Get On Course is part of a strategy to change the perception of golf,” says Ben. “We want to get younger people and more women into the game. This is a call to arms. We want existing golfers – men and women – to spread the word. We particularly want male golfers – because 80% of golfers are men – to encourage women to play.”
Get On Course program co-ordinator Erica Kreymborg backs that mission.
“Surely every golfer knows someone who could be playing,” she says. “We want to re-establish some good (female) numbers in golf. We want growth.”
Erica describes the program as a “no-brainer”. “It bridges that gap for women who have had some lessons or attended a clinic or two but don’t have the confidence and knowledge to navigate their way round a course,” she says.
Unless a knowledgeable friend or partner can help a novice make that transition – and, let’s face it, partners don’t always make the best teachers – options are limited.
Erica, who plays off a single-figure handicap, says: “This is the next step. You do your Play Golf, your SwingFit, you go out to the driving range, you do your clinics. But what do you do after that?
“You’re not good enough or confident enough to go out yet by yourself. If you know someone who plays golf, that’s great, but a lot of women don’t. This is
a great platform. We’re all in the same boat in Get On Course. No-one needs to feel embarrassed or intimidated in any way. We remove the pressure. We learn together and make sure we have a bit of fun. Because golf should be fun.”
For Leisure Management Services, offering the host venues for the programs is a great investment.
“We think it’s a wonderful idea,”
says Kristine Nyblom, Programs and Events Manager at LMS. “We’re more than happy to offer our golf courses because we like women in sport. We’re very happy to run with it; we think it’s a great initiative and it helps us as all. Erica will get the women in, we hopefully get lessons out of it, the number of green fees will increase – it’s a win-win for everyone.”
The most recent Australian Golf Club Participation Report noted a 2.1% increase in rounds of golf played throughout Australia in 2016 – a continuation of a positive trend. However, an area of concern was the game’s performance in attracting female members.
It found that only 15% of new club members in 2016 were female. This “means that only 20% of members are female, down from 21% in 2012”, the report stated. “Additionally, the rate of decline in female membership was 3% in 2016, far greater than the 0.2% decline in male members.”
Erica sees several reasons for the decline, among them fewer stay-at- home women and the fact that the game is considered time-consuming.
Get On Course takes those factors into consideration, with sessions available across all seven days of the week and limited to two hours.
“The program is kept to two hours (playing an ambrose format). It doesn’t matter whether we play four holes or nine, we stop after two hours. That way, the women know that if they have to get back to creche or whatever,
in two hours they’ll be able to. A beginner can learn and hit a lot of shots in two hours.”
So, what are the key elements of Get On Course?
- The program operates at eight public courses across Melbourne
– Northcote, Brighton, Riverside, Ivanhoe, Altona Lakes, Glen Waverley, Elsternwick and Oakleigh.
- Sessions can accommodate up to 12 women and run to a strict two- hour timetable.
- The cost is $30 per session, which includes green fees, clubs and balls.
- The only things you need to provide are comfortable clothing and runners.
- Your mentor will walk the course with you and explain the rules, the scoring, advise on club selection and offer tips as you play.
6. You can attend as many sessions as you like until you feel ready to “graduate”. Mentors can also advise on how to go about joining one of the myriad women’s clubs that play at Melbourne’s public courses.
Erica says that women who have been doing Get On Course have been thirsty for knowledge. “They know where to tee off from, they know to call people through if there is a lost ball or slow play, they know about a provisional ball. They’ve learned the basics of the game. It’s also a great networking tool for them. They get to meet other like-minded women.”
Golf Victoria can also offer Get On Course participants guidance on joining a club in their area when they are ready, growing female participation along the way.
As Erica says, “ the only way to improve your golf is to play regularly and the best way to play regularly is to join a club.”
For more information:
Golf Victoria magazine is now available in e-Mag and iPad format, free of charge. The iPad version of Golf Victoria Magazine is accompanied by rich media including short videos and interview.
WENDY & SHANNON FIND THE PATHWAY TO PLAY.
“If it wasn’t for Get On Course, I probably wouldn’t have gone on with golf.”
That’s how Wendy Richards sums up her fledgling golfing journey.
Wendy had never played golf but friends did, so she decided to have some lessons. She had six one-hour sessions learning how to swing a club, how to putt. But she was at a loss as to how to put that into practice on a course. The lessons had given her no insight into how to actually play a round on a course.
Fortunately, a friend directed her to the Golf Victoria website and to Get On Course.
“My friend knew that I’d had some lessons but that I didn’t know where to turn next,” she says. “Plan B would have been one of two options – either forget about it and don’t even continue
or just go out on a course by myself at a really quiet time and have a play around until I was brave enough to take the next step. But that wouldn’t have helped me with rules or etiquette, or my development.
“Get On Course has been invaluable. It’s a really easy pathway into actually playing golf – it’s non- threatening and great value.
“Erica (Kreymborg) has been a marvellous mentor. I’ve had five sessions, learning about rules and etiquette and which clubs to use, without feeling intimidated, like I’m letting anyone down.
“Now I’m feeling confident enough to head out with a friend and another couple of women for nine holes at Yarra Bend for a proper game. I’ll have to think for myself, decide which
club I’ll use and behave myself – mark my ball properly, not move it when it’s not on the green, things like that.”
Wendy is also pleased to have had the opportunity to play on a number of courses where the program is offered.
“It’s so easy to check out the session times in upcoming months at assorted courses and book what suits you. Because of that, I’ve got to experience different courses.”
Wendy says she feels her golfing journey may be a long one, but admits she loves it when she hits a good shot. And that can be all it takes.
Wendy (left) and Shannon say Get On Course has given them much more confidence.
Outdoors is where Shannon Maxwell prefers to be, so it was probably inevitable that the trail runner and hiker was going to try her hand at golf at some time. Particularly as her husband also played.
Her golfing journey started several years ago with some clinics and visits to the driving range. Her husband offered his advice but in Shannon’s words, “that’s like having your parents teach you to drive.”
“I did a few beginners’ clinics several years ago but it was a long time between drinks,” Shannon says. “Work and life got in the way and I did nothing more on the golf front for a long time. Eventually I played again and decided to try to take it further.”
But… how to make that transition from driving range to course?
“I learnt about Get On Course via an email and it was exactly what I was looking for. The program fills a massive gap. It’s been a huge learning curve for me.
“I’ve been out with Erica (Kreymborg) four or five times now. I’ve learned so much. I’m more settled.
“There’s a bit to work on, though, ” Shannon jokes. “I could go around with a driver, a seven- iron, a pitching wedge and a putter.
“When I stand on the first tee, I’m riddled with nerves – and I’m not normally like that. I look forward to getting beyond that. It’s a very mental sport.”
Shannon – like every other golfer – says she is aiming for consistency and hopes to meet some like-minded females with whom she can continue her golfing adventure.
“I’m bitten,” she says. “I’m like a dog with a bone. I just want to get better.”
Get On Course sessions are held at multiple venues throughout Melbourne on weekends and weekdays. Reserve your place in a session by clicking the Register button below.
New session times are added frequently so be sure to keep your eye on this page! http://www.golfvic.org.au/get-on-course
|Tuesday 17 October – 10am or 1pm||Altona GC||Register|
|Wednesday 18 October – 12pm||Glen Waverley GC||Register|
|Friday 20 October – 10am||Northcote GC||Register|
|Tuesday 24 October (Twilight) – 5pm||Elsternwick GC||Register|
|Sunday 29 October – 11am||Brighton GC||Register|
|Monday 30 October – 10am or 1pm||Edithvale GC||Register|
|Tuesday 31 October – 10am or 1pm||Riverside GC||Register|
|Wednesday 8 November – 2pm||Brighton GC||Register|
|Saturday 11 November – 1pm||Glen Waverley GC||Register|
|Wednesday 15 November (Twilight) – 5pm||Altona GC||Register|
|Friday 17 November – 1pm||Ivanhoe GC||Register|
|Monday 20 November – 10am or 1pm||Oakleigh GC||Register|
|Wednesday 22 November – 10am or 1pm||Edithvale GC||Register|
|Sunday 26 November – 12pm||Northcote GC||Register|
|Tuesday 28 November (Twilight) – 1pm or 5pm||Riverside GC||Register|
|Friday 1 December – 10am||Glen Waverley GC||Register|
|Monday 4 December – 10am or 1pm||Northcote GC||Register|
|Wednesday 6 December – 10am||Elsternwick GC||Register|
|Saturday 9 December – 2pm||Brighton GC||Register|
|Monday 11 December – 10am or 1pm||Altona GC||Register|
|Saturday 16 Decemeber 11am (Xmas Function)||Edithvale GC||Register|