Nikki McClure for President
How long have you played golf/why did you start?
I was introduced to golf in my late 30’s by my parents and siblings, all of whom were, and remain, avid regular golfers. Commitments however, such as a young family, tied my hands and ensured I was a late starter.
The game has made a huge impact on me personally. In 2003 I lost my daughter to SIDS; she was only 13 weeks old. Overcoming such a loss was difficult but having the game to focus on was an incredible saviour. It didn’t take me long to get hooked. The adrenaline kicked in and I was enjoying everything that the game delivered. Socially it ticked all the boxes for me, meeting so many like-minded women and being welcomed into a friendly environment was very reassuring.
In 2017 I created Fairway Birdies - for women in golf, to inspire women like myself to embrace a life with golf. As I became more obsessed with the game and reached out for information about connecting with other women, I realised there was a gap. I had friends eager to hear more and wanting to take the next step but not knowing how or where to go next. It is an exciting time unique to women’s golf as we are trying to take participation levels and opportunities for a demographic that can fall through the cracks of what is currently out there for men.
How does it feel to be the first female President at Kingston Heath Golf Club?
I joined Kingston Heath in 2008 where I have been lucky enough to spend most of my golfing journey. A world class golfing venue, a member’s club, rich in history and a culture like no other. Our members are the life and soul of this club and refreshingly are ready to embrace change. My appointment as the first female President is obviously a significant event after 113 years and I hold it in high regard. I may be the first female President of Kingston Heath, but I certainly won’t be the last… maybe a Sandbelt Club will elect their first female Captain one day soon!
As a traditionally male-oriented sport, how important is it to see women leaders in golf?
We need to embrace diversity for the game to evolve - it is one sport that can be considered a lifestyle for all. After working in ‘club land’ and my contribution as a board member for Golf Victoria, it’s even more evident to me now that breaking down these barriers only comes from the top. I’ve been told that my appointment has broken the glass ceiling in a traditionally male oriented sport. Female leaders are essential, and the tide is shifting in an era of change in women’s sport. I believe women embracing women can also be the difference.
Are there any changes/things you’d like to see done differently at the club or with golf/sport in general?
During my 3-year tenure as Women’s Captain I made a concerted effort to influence the narrative used within the leadership team and at board level. It was an obvious use of words that I felt was not aligned with our changing society. Change needs to come from the top in any business and that includes members at board level who volunteer their time; they too need to realise the opportunity for change and to embrace it for the good of the club and the game for years to come.
The industry as a whole offers many employment opportunities for women. I read about the positive initiatives delivered by the associations, for example General Managers Association and the Australian Sports Turf Management association, delivering strategies to reinforce opportunities and actively increase female representation.
What advice would you give to women and girls who would like to try golf for the first time?
No time like the present I’d say, to appreciate the benefits that golf delivers. There’s no other lifestyle like it, golf encourages independence, strength, health, happiness and most importantly feeling connected to a positive environment. We all know living a healthy lifestyle and belonging to a community is so very important… did you know, golfers live 5 years longer on average, according to a study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden?
I think over time I have mastered the art of being an encourager. Nothing makes me happier when I hear about the impact the game has on individuals and the delight on their faces.
Wednesday 8 June, 2022