Golf clubs may traditionally be male-dominated environments, but a club director says the future has to be about creating equal opportunities for women.
Greg Anders is leading a cultural change at Ballarat Golf Club after working with Women’s Health Grampians (WHG) on its regional strategy as the Golden Plains Shire Council representative.
Mr Anders said his work on the council had opened his eyes to the problem of violence against women.
“It’s not just statistics, but the fact that it’s internationally recognised that the underlying cause of violence against women is gender inequality,” he said.
In his role as director and former president of the golf club, Mr Anders said he needed to stand for change so he put his case to the board.
“I owe it to my children, my grandchildren and future grandchildren to do something so they don’t become a statistic, whether that is as a perpetrator of domestic violence or a victim,” he said.
Ballarat Golf Club has joined the WHG’s Communities of Respect and Equality (CoRE) alliance and put in place an action plan developed by an internal gender equality working group.
Among the changes already implemented is an overhaul of the membership structure to better support a modern lifestyle, the club’s first female vice president with the appointment of Carolyn Setori and time sheets opened to all members.
“Up until recently women and men paid the same amount to be a full club member, but only 20 of our females of 220 players were allowed to play on the main competition day,” Mr Anders said. “You can hardly call that equitable.”
The club is also holding its first Ladies’ Golf Pro Am competition in January.
But one issue Mr Anders said he was still grappling with was how to increase the number of female board members, with resistance from both men and women.
“Portarlington Golf Club aims to have 50 per cent female members on the board and I think that’s the way we ought to go,” he said.
But with only 17 per cent of the club’s members female, Mr Anders said not everyone agreed with his vision.
Club members have also argued women were too slow to be playing the men’s field and it would be harder to get a game if time sheets were open.
“There have been lots of challenges,” Mr Anders said.
“Some of them have said if the system isn’t broken, why do you need to fix it? But you call one woman a week being murdered not broken?
“If you’re serious about gender equality and creating change rapidly rather than taking a generation for it to happen you have to bite the bullet.”
Ballarat Golf Club hopes to be an example for other sports clubs in the region to implement changes.
The club is participating in the Leading Change Presidents’ Dinner, which will be held on Monday, November 27, at Sovereign Hill. For more information visit whg.org.au.