Golf Premier League concept booms

Golf Premier League
The "Ferrets" at Victoria's Latrobe Golf Club sum up the team excitement of winning a GPL premiership.

Members are bonding and engaging as Golf Premier League spirit sweeps the country.

Teams such as Jude’s Jewels, of Kooyonga in SA, The Wanderers +2, from Muirfield NSW, the Hozzle Rockets, at Berwick Montuna, and the Mighty Buglers, from Latrobe in Victoria, have lifted premiership trophies in 2017.

In all, 68 clubs around Australia have tried Golf Premier League seasons aimed not at individual players, but rather with an emphasis on club and team involvement.

The positive impact is being felt in clubs in participation and interaction as the normal week-by-week single events are charged by the teams battling for glory.

Brayden Wauchope, head professional at South Australian club Sandy Creek, has seen the second season of GPL grow from 80 players in the first year to 132 including a women’s team and juniors off their own “orange-markers” course.

“The GPL Saturdays have grown by 10 – 20 per cent through the colder winter months,” Wauchope said, such is the keenness to turn up and play well with teammates.

Muirfield was inundated with members looking for more fun in their first season. Hoping to set up eight teams, captain Alex Molesworth finished with 12 teams forming two conferences to fit the season into the syllabus.

They held an auction to bring in four juniors to add atmosphere and the effect on rainy days was significant.

Molesworth noted: “A couple of rounds were heavily affected by rain and the players who were braving the conditions were those in GPL teams – opposing teams sharing the camaraderie of playing adding to the banter of the competition.”

These effects on interaction, engagement and participation increases is what is the most satisfying for Tony Craswell, the founder of Golf Premier League and professional at Latrobe Golf Club.

Having just finished the 10th season, the numbers at Latrobe have increased from 96 in the initial league to more than 300 across the Saturday, women’s and Friday night lights leagues.

Members are now part of these teams all year round, with extra support in club championships and club events from their team’s extended friends.

“I want what has happened at Latrobe to happen in every golf club in Australia,” Craswell said.

“The excitement, fun and interaction adds to the members’ enjoyment and the benefits to the club are emotional as well as financial.”

The website solution is to take the work of administration away from the club staff or the reliance on volunteers.

“We will continue to enhance the website to ensure club administrations are not burdened and the players are more engaged with each other,” Craswell said.

“It is very important that we spend our energies strengthening the connections between members and staff to maintain the club’s community.”

The biggest challenge in starting new leagues is to help golf clubs understand how it works.

The upcoming Golf Month campaign, in October, is ideal for clubs to run trial leagues. The key is to see how the system works and gain feedback from a small group of participants as well as to target team captains for future leagues.

Simply contact Craswel through the Golf Premier League website to receive the trial pack to establish a league for Golf Month, or the board pack to take to the committee for a new league.

So with excited banter and friendly rivalries dominating clubhouse interaction in GPL clubs around the country, perhaps Wauchope summed it up best: “You can make it as time consuming as you like. I complete a round review which is more a of sledge and rev-up as it runs through a normal comp day, no extra work but a massive increase in interaction.”

This has led to blogs, newsletters and emails flying around GPL players, along with best-and-fairest functions and “dream teams”  to finish league seasons.

Exactly what Golf Premier League is all about.

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