What 75 Years Look Like
Cerberus Golf Club remains one of the hidden gems among the Mornington Peninsula golf courses. So, it may come as a surprise to many that Cerberus Golf Club recently celebrated its Diamond Jubilee.
The course was developed at the end of the Second World War and the nine holes completed in 1946. But to this day, many are still not aware that there is a golf course at HMAS Cerberus Naval Base. A golf course inside a defence force base may seem ironic, considering that for a brief period in the 15th century, golf was banned by the Scottish parliament, as soldiers routinely skipped their military practices and training to get in a round of the sport.
For several decades after its establishment, membership to the Cerberus Golf Club, quite expectedly, was limited to only the serving members of the Australian Defence Force, civilian personnel or foreign Defence Service members in HMAS Cerberus, their spouses and dependents. One only has to look at the perpetual trophies in the club’s trophy cabinet to appreciate the legacy of its members and their enthusiastic pursuit of golf.
Some time in the 80s, membership was extended to civilians nominated by existing members. Given the nomination process and the history of the club, membership came with prestige.
“I can still remember when I was nominated and accepted as a member of the club. It was such an honour and privilege, that in return, you feel you have to conduct yourself in a manner becoming of a Member and hold your behaviour to account. Even today, I still think it is a privilege to be a member of the club.” — recalls Pam Brown, this year’s Ladies Club Champion.
It was only in recent years that any golfer, male or female, could apply for membership without the need for nomination.
At the end of 2021, Cerberus Golf Club had a robust base of 207 members.
The club has come a long way in its 75-year journey and have a fair way to go in promoting the sport in the community. Moreover, like any other other golf club in Australia, especially promoting the sport to women and girls. Not for lack of trying, as a matter of fact, Cerberus Golf Club has proudly implemented a number of initiatives to promote equal opportunity for women and girls in golf.
Historically, women have played golf during the week instead of the weekend. As such, most clubs have women’s honour board competitions traditionally scheduled midweek.
A remnant of this history is limiting women’s access to the course, with clubs only offering women memberships that do not give them Saturday playing rights.
Cerberus Golf Club acknowledged that dynamics have change over the years such that many women can only play during the weekends due to work or education commitments.
Hence, Cerberus Golf Club opened 7-day memberships to women golfers as early as December 2011, providing access to Saturday competitions. Men and women can put their name down in any time slot, no reserved times for any gender, and play with each other – not against each other. This move was taken by the club well ahead of many other golf clubs in Australia.
Another action taken by Cerberus Golf Club well ahead of many clubs is reserving at least 2 general committee positions for women, a measure in place for over twenty years now.
More recently, additional initiatives have been introduced such as:
- Dedicated Saturday Competition for Ladies with their own overall winner, runners-up, ball run down as well as nearest to pin prizes.
- Introduction of Multi-Day Events where lady members who are only able to play in Saturday Competitions, were made eligible to enter into the weekly Tuesday Ladies Competitions by playing on Saturdays.
- Competition formats have been organised to enable the ‘same’ competition to be played across both days with the events concluding on each Tuesday.
- Prior to the start of the Saturday round, the member nominates and pays for either Saturday only or both Saturday and Tuesday Competitions.
- Introduction of Multi-Day Events for all Ladies Trophy, Board and Championship events using the same guidelines for weekly Saturday and Tuesday Ladies Competitions.
- The Lady President and Lady Captain have been added as defined Officers of the Club and part of the General Committee, not just the Ladies Sub-Committee.
- Amalgamation of the previously separate Men’s and Ladies Match Sub-Committee into a Joint Match Sub-Committee.
“Ït wasn’t hard getting our female members, who play regularly on our Tuesday comps, to agree and support the multi-day format,” said Margot Smith , Lady Captain of the Club.
“This is one of the many occasions when you can really see the camaraderie and collaborative culture among our Lady Members. I’m proud to say we are known for that in Golf Peninsula Victoria when our ladies come together and everyone helps out in hosting GPV events. Our Lady Members embraced and welcomed this change, knowing it will be a positive and inclusive step for all the women in the club.
Of course, we considered things like different days bring different conditions but where we are, conditions can also change in a matter of hours or even minutes.”
This argument also did not hold ground with major tournaments around the world and events such as the Australian Amateur and World Amateur, which have qualifying rounds on different days on different courses.
“The goal is to future-proof our programs and not just to please a few or current lady members,” Club Captain, Dave Hilet stated.
“We want to make sure we make golf accessible to women and girls who would like to start taking up the sport. We don’t want them to feel intimidated if they are competing against men. What we’ve done so far, they’re not perfect. There have been challenges and learnings along the way and we are constantly thinking of ways to improve.”
Last month, Cerberus Golf Club held its first multi-day Ladies Club Championship. This new format enabled working women to enter and play on a Saturday in lieu of the traditional Tuesday schedule. Hence, compete with the wide base of lady members of the club and for some, even win a place.
“It has been very refreshing to see the Club Committee having an open and even initiating conversations about equality matters,” expressed by Vicki Rynaard, Lady President of the Club in one of the weekly competition presentations.
“There is no more ‘them’ and ‘us’, it is just one club, we all have an equal voice and all these initiatives really make you feel that equality does matter.”
As Cerberus Golf Club soldiers on to its 4th quarter of a century, the Club Committee continues to be proactive in bridging the gap between old ways of doing things and new emerging ways.