Date: July 02, 2013
Author: Esther Rika / Gove Country Golf Club

Gove is Australia’s top course for juniors

Gove Country Golf Club is the recipient of the June MYGolf Centre of the Month award.

The Gove Country Golf Club – Australia’s Top Golf Course – is rightly named, due to its most northern remote location at the top of Australia in Nhulunbuy, North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

In 2010 after many years of inactivity, junior golf was revived by two passionate golfers, Alan Fanning and Mitchell Banks with three juniors attending a Sunday morning junior program. In a relatively short time it has grown to become the biggest junior club in the NT, with 35 registered MYGolf members in 2013.

“The MyGolf program is a new initiative for our club and we do not have a resident Pro. We believe this user friendly program will provide our juniors with opportunities to develop to their full potential in golf. It provides achievable goals like always aiming to do your personal best.” Says Centre Coordinator and Junior Development Representative, Esther Rika

Volunteers have always run the junior golf program, which includes the current Club Captain Jason Lane, who plays off a handicap of 1. He took on the role of junior coach to continue the legacy of Fanning who moved to Darwin. Lane is supported by many volunteer parents that are committed to making golf fun and promoting it as a game for life that begins at the grass roots level.

This commitment includes many fundraising ventures that cover the costs of having access to regular PGA coaching and clinics in Gove. The nearest golf club is Groote Eylandt, which is only accessible by plane, and Katherine Golf Club, which is a 10 hour 4-wheel drive trip accessible only in the dry season.

A highlight of fundraising is the waterslide day that’s held after junior golf every couple of months on a Sunday. This is where 50 metres of plastic is run down the slope between the practice green and the 7th tee onto the mini-3-hole junior course. This attracts a large proportion of the community to the golf club and the juniors have a lot of fun.

Currently there are some juniors who can start playing club level golf and are working towards completing their handicaps. They have also been coming to golf early playing a few holes before sessions. One junior has been playing golf since 2010, is playing club comps, has attended golf clinics in Palmerston and Alice Springs, and has recently won the local 54-hole Amateur Gulf Gove Open at 11 years old. The sub-junior age-group youngsters are also showing great potential and developing progressively through their levels of golf.

The Gove Junior Golf program is successful because parents are encouraged to attend sessions with their children and this promotes a positive sense of community. Junior sessions are free, but all junior golfers must become junior members at the club. This year 66% of juniors enrolled were part of junior golf the previous year.

To encourage greater participation, the Gove Country Golf Club introduced a full playing family membership fee. This approach has resulted in increasing adult membership and participation in golf, which is energising our local club. The juniors are the future of all clubs and a healthy junior program supported by its members will bring success at all levels.