South Western Golf Association
Not only does golf bring people together, it’s also a catalyst for giving back. This philosophy is at the heart of the new partnership between the South Western Golf Association (SWGA) and Geelong Community Foundation (the Foundation).
A chance meeting at the Barwon Heads Golf Club between Hayden Torney, the Foundation’s former Chairperson and Graeme Mathers, SWGA Board Member and Chair of Men’s Golf Operations, sparked the beginning of this journey. “Had Hayden not been there, it may not have ever happened. It was just the right place, right time,” shares Graeme. The serendipity of this meeting, combined with SWGA’s desire to support the community, led to the development of a Named Sub Fund with the Foundation that will assist with funding grants to community organisations into the future. “We want it to be a long-term ongoing commitment to the Foundation,” says Georgie Sanders, SWGA President.
SWGA was formed following the amalgamation of the Geelong and District Golf Association and the South Western District Ladies Golf Association in 2016. With values of accountability, equality, participation and teamwork, its vision is to be a united voice representing and celebrating golf as “the game for life”, providing opportunities across genders, age groups and abilities in Victoria’s south-west region. “Whether it’s someone going to mini-golf, right through to the elite golfer, the all-abilities golfer, the juniors – it’s a sport for life,” explains Georgie. “We’re about all golfers – whether they’re able or not,” adds Graeme.
“The philosophy of the SWGA regarding inclusion and diversity aligns perfectly and their support will help us grow the amount we grant to the community. The partnership will also build, amongst golfers across the region, the knowledge and understanding of the Foundation and the many organisations we fund,” shares Gail Rodgers, CEO of the Foundation.
SWGA would like to grow the community involvement within its 26 clubs and 12,500 members, so it was a natural fit to partner with the Foundation. “One of our aims is to get out there the work of the Foundation. So, when we run an event or try and raise money, every golfer understands the work of the Foundation, who they’re supporting – we think that’s really important,” explains Georgie. “We also want clubs to start running an event a year, where the funds they raise go to the SWGA Sub Fund. We want to build up that Sub Fund as quickly as we can,” adds Graeme.
From increasing social connection to the benefits of being in nature, Georgie and Graeme are passionate about the ways that golf enhances wellbeing. “It’s a sanctuary,” Graeme says as he puts his hands over his heart. “It gives people social interaction, that sense of oneness – you’re part of an environment,” adds Georgie. Golf also teaches people essential life skills such as respect, integrity, etiquette, honesty and discipline, as well as social skills and sportsmanship. “It’s about social inclusion, community and cohesion,” says Graeme. “It’s the only sport I know that gives you a healthy few hours. You’re walking around the golf course, you’re hitting, you’re in the fresh air, you’re in the sun, you’re talking to people, and after the game you might sit down and have a coffee and chat. It provides a social network.”
A launch event for the new community partnership took place on Friday 18th March at Curlewis Golf Club, with nine holes of golf at 3pm followed by a reception. The successful launch has signified the start of a meaningful partnership that celebrates bringing all golfers together while giving back to the community.