Club Catalina at Batemans Bay on the New South Wales South Coast is built around its connection to the community.
When bushfires ravaged the region and came close to encroaching on the golf course in January 2020, the clubhouse became a place of refuge for members whose houses perished in the blaze as well as serving as an overflow for the adjacent bushfire evacuation centre.
That community connection has again been evident through the time of COVID-19 as the golf course became a sanctuary for members and their guests, the club has also leant on its community for assistance.
Members have in the past conducted the club competitions and ‘Cadet Masters’ administered the junior program, the club recently took the step of bolstering the presence of PGA Professionals in their pro shop to not only better serve the members but provide a consistent delivery of service with greater attention on programs for women and juniors.
Mitchel Judd (Director of Golf) and Rodney Booth (PGA Professional) joined Club Catalina earlier this year, Judd most recently serving as the Director of Golf at Cathedral Lodge and Booth as Director of Golf at Tocumwal Golf and Bowls Club on the Murray River, their immediate focus a simple but significant one.
“Our goal is pretty simple really, we strive to be the pre-eminent golf destination on the South Coast,” says Judd.
“I believe if we focus on our people, our community and the experience our members and guests are having then everything else will look after itself.”
To achieve this Judd and Booth have set about implementing broad changes to elevate the club’s golf operations more in line with 21st century thinking.
The administration of competitions that currently run five days a week and the implementation of more formal women’s and junior programs are designed not only to improve the experience for existing members but to provide a seamless pathway for those looking to join.
“The first three months that I was here I was amazed just how active the committee was in the golfing operations,” says Booth, who relocated to Batemans Bay with his young family.
“The Club are looking to move the golfing operations forward, hence the employment of Mitchel and myself into our current roles. Club Catalina is a large scale Licensed Club, so the aim to have a stronger structure built into the golf operations has become a primary focus.
“With Mitch and I taking over the two roles it was a longer-term plan of streamlining golfing operations, as most clubs are accustomed to.
“Mitch and I are gradually involving the Golf Shop in terms of timesheet preparation, competition structure and providing that professionalism we were employed for.”
Part of that message in recent times is centred on making women feel more and more welcome at Club Catalina. The latest in the series of beginner ladies clinics is scheduled for September, where the primary goal is to make the participants feel comfortable and that the club is there for their enjoyment.
“Golf has certainly become a sport that has actively pursued increasing the engagement of females and the approach taken by Club Catalina since my arrival is certainly along these lines.” Booth says. “Driving female participation is not only essential in securing the longevity of a golf club, it shows the club is serious in the area of inclusiveness and its position within the sport.”
“We’re looking to engage with that beginner ladies crowd and show them that you don’t need to have all the flash gear or be an expert to play the game. You can come out and enjoy walking the golf course and engage yourself amongst another social outlet.
“Golf is a chance to share time and space with another group of people who they perhaps hadn’t originally thought of.
“Whether it’s men, ladies or juniors, anyone can get involved in the game. If it results in one more person on the timesheet, it is another social outlet for them to enjoy and to appreciate the club’s facilities.
“The immediate impact that Mitch and I have had is to provide a professional inclusive service that will welcome anyone to come and play at Club Catalina.”