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It's About Time for Newcastle

(Photo: Newcastle Golf Club )
The recent news that one of Australia’s more historic golf clubs, Newcastle Golf Club, now has women members playing on Saturdays after it being a men-only day for 112 years is certainly welcome.

A group of women recently teed it up at Newcastle on a Saturday to bring an end to an era when women at the club were precluded from such an opportunity.

Not that the decision will make the club unique but for a golf club of its standing and place in the history of the game in Australia, the decision tells the story of the changing nature of the game and the need to let go of archaic thinking if golf club membership is to thrive.

Newcastle Golf Club sits just north of Newcastle and about two hours' drive north of Sydney and is built on some beautiful golf course land amidst sand dunes adjacent to the Tasman Sea and on the road to Nelson Bay.

Interestingly, there was no real rule, as such, precluding women from playing on Saturdays but rather it was the accepted thing until current Ladies President Jenny Thompson became the driving force behind opening the door to play on all seven days.

“I don’t think it was a case of them never having the right to play, they just did not take it up,” said the Club’s Operations Manager Mitchell Potter.

Potter though says the attitude of the male members to the change has been very positive. "I think everyone has been supportive and I have not heard any negative comments at all," added Potter.

Thompson, though, was the one to push for change and acceptance by the club's board.

“The rule allowing women to play on a Saturday and Wednesday had actually been in the constitution for several years, however it was only implemented recently, following the change at board level,” Thompson told ABC News.

“Our current board was fully supportive and encouraged this to happen whereas previously at Newcastle that wasn’t the case,” added Thompson.

“Newcastle Golf Club has long remained in the country’s top 20 clubs and I think for a club of our long history and status it’s really important that we finally made this change."

“One by one the dominoes are falling so to speak,” Thompson said.

“There are still famous Australian clubs like The Australian in Sydney and quite a number of other clubs in Sydney that don’t have women on a Saturday.”

"The move will make it easier for working women to play golf, with members hoping this will attract more professional women in the Newcastle area to be part of the club."

As the Newcastle Golf Club pursues an increase in active membership, this move should play a role in providing a more attractive playing environment for those considering their options especially in an era when the time constraints on both women and men are now very similar.

The club has a membership of around 800 of which Potter believes close to 300 are active 'seven-day' members although it would seem that number is expected to grow as existing and new female members take up the option to play on a more regular basis.

Perhaps a reflection on the interest in the story when first published on Golf NSW's Facebook page was that it rated as one of their most read stories, further highlighting the changing nature of the membership model. 

SIGNATURE HOLES: 3RD AT LINKS SHELL COVE (NSW)

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