Anna Stanton’s path to becoming the Golf Operations Manager at Woodford Golf Club west of the Sunshine Coast is simultaneously an example of where golf in Australia has come from and the people who will shape its future.
As she oversees a thriving junior program at Woodford boasting a growing group of young girls, Stanton can’t help reflect back on her formative days in the game in Kilcoy just 20 minutes down the road.
There was a lone friend who was also a golfer, less than 10 lady members at Kilcoy and little indication that a career in golf was ever possible.
Stanton’s playing ability earned her an invite to Brisbane to attend the Kelvin Grove State College’s Golf Excellence program and her rural upbringing helped to earn a scholarship through the Adam Scott Foundation to study a Diploma in Golf Management at the PGA’s International Golf Institute in 2012.
A Bachelor of Business majoring in sport management through Griffith University followed in 2013 and 2014 but after completing her Professional Year at Palmer Gold Coast to attain her PGA credentials, Stanton found employment difficult to come by.
“I’ll be honest, I had those thought processes at the end of 2015, when I was going from casual job to casual job of, ‘Is there actually a career for me in golf?’,” Stanton reveals.
“I think that mindset has changed now, not just in the golf industry but across all industries with regards to gender equality and opportunity.”
Will full-time employment within the golf industry proving elusive Stanton tapped into her upbringing on the family farm and enrolled in Veterinary Technology at UQ Gatton, picking up a part-time job at Gatton Golf Club to keep some money coming in.
When she was exposed to the most difficult aspect of life as a veterinarian, Stanton shifted again to study a Graduate Certificate in Applied Digital Marketing before applying to become the Assistant Golf Operations Manager at Woodford in November 2019.
“It’s a bit of a crazy little ride,” she concedes.
“My role’s quite diverse here. I look after the communication including the Facebook page and we’ve essentially doubled our audience in the space of two years.
“I wear a lot of different hats, I do monthly newsletters, I do weekly updates, the designs for flyers. But then also look after the actual golf ops side of things, which can be quite overwhelming too, especially when golf is so popular and just grown in popularity.
“Our club numbers have improved by probably 25 per cent. It’s crazy.”
Subconsciously, Stanton is also doing something at Woodford and in south-east Queensland that perhaps won’t come to fruition for another decade.
From the enthusiastic band of junior girls at Woodford to girls taking their first steps in the PGA’s Membership Pathway Program, Stanton is providing the one thing she lacked as a junior… an example to follow.
“I’m only 26 and in the grand scheme of things, there’s not too many golf ops managers who are around my age let alone female,” she adds.
“We’ve got three little girls at Woodford all around the same age and they wear their junior member shirts. They’re really, really sweet and they bind together in the program and egg each other on which is fantastic. Because that’s what you need. That’s what you need to build more of that culture and make everyone try harder and be better.
“I’ve thought about the influence that I’ve had on the aspiring female trainees because there are more females than ever in the program. I understand the ones in Queensland look up to me as something of role model with a job that they would like to be able to move in into.
“It’s good to be able to lead the way and hopefully encourage more females in golf to take up those roles as well.”