Yarra Golf Cinema: View times and purchase tickets
Yarra Golf Cinema: View times and purchase tickets

Rolling up the sleeves

For all its size and status, the hidden strength of Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort is the humble army of tireless volunteers that contribute more than just a helping hand.

Like most Australian towns, Yarrawonga Mulwala is proud to boast a large contingent of local volunteers that put their hand up in times of need and make incredible contributions to the things and places that serve the community.

The extra hands allow regional clubs to prosper and deliver a level of care that is hard to measure.

For a club like Yarra Golf, for all its size, status and workforce of more than 100, the impact of volunteers is significant.

And likewise, from talking to the volunteers themselves, the benefits they receive are just as invaluable.

“It’s that sense of belonging, of contributing back to something you love so much,” says former director and long-time volunteer Barry Cocks.

(L-R) Volunteers Barry Cocks and Bob Kruger alongside Course Superintendent Chris Burgess

Barry has been a Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club member for over half his life and a ground staff volunteer since 2016.

“After the floods in 2016, the Club called out for people to come and help with the clean-up.

“The Murray Course was a total mess. We all got handed a rake and jumped in the Toro’s. There was debris everywhere – the place was a mess.”

With the Murray clean-up completed ahead of time, and so many members coming forward, the Club took the opportunity to establish a volunteer program that would continue on a more permanent basis.

“A few weeks later, with the paperwork and insurance sorted, there were about half a dozen of us front up on a Wednesday morning, ready to get our hands dirty,” Barry recalls.

“Course Superintendent Chris Burgess put us to work. He got us doing many of the smaller tasks – raking the bunkers, picking up debris on the fairways, and doing some mulching. Then with a bit more confidence, we were helping with the edging around the cart paths and occasionally jumping on the mowers.”

On any given Monday and Wednesday, there are now around 9 to 12 volunteers assisting the ground staff across all manner of tasks.

Despite most being well into their 60s and 70s, the resilience of the self-proclaimed ‘Dad’s Army’ cannot be questioned.

“We all love it. You feel like you’re achieving something. We’re out there feeling useful, and obviously, there’s plenty of work to be done – so I think the ground staff appreciate our assistance.

“Once summer comes around, that’s when we’re really needed. We’ve got 45-holes, and each fairway must be mown twice weekly. Having us out there to do the tedious tasks allows them to get to work on the bigger things.

Getting a first-hand look at the incredible work of the ground staff has also been eye-opening.

“Many of our members wouldn’t understand the amount of machinery and people necessary to maintain a place like this.

“The ground staff are up at 5 o’clock every morning, 12 months of the year – could be minus two degrees, icy winds, and they’re out there on the mowers, on the rollers, on the bobcats with a light mounted on the roof so they can see the fairways. I mean, it’s serious work.

The Club also boasts many lady members who volunteer their time to assist with the extensive flower and garden areas surrounding the Club.

Karen Droop (centre) and fellow lady volunteers looking after the Clubhouse gardens

Like Barry, Life member Karen Droop started as a volunteer in 2016.

“We heard about the Men’s volunteers at the AGM, and I stood up and said, ‘If the men can do it, why can’t we get a ladies’ group going too?’, Karen recalls.

“We started with four, and now we’re up to about nine members. It was initially just a group of lady golfers, but now we’ve got some lady bowlers who have joined us. It’s lovely and has really expanded our friendship circle.”

Michael Drake, a qualified landscaper who looks after the Club’s gardening and landscaping efforts, provides the ladies with a weekly ‘to-do list’ on the whiteboard of the tea room and guidance for the girls where required.

“We’re here every third Thursday of the month. We drive the vehicles, use all the tools; it’s great fun.

“We’ve got a lot of knowledge to contribute too. One of our volunteers, Cathy Spinks, is a rose expert, and another, Chris Wilson, is a gardening expert. I know Michael is always appreciative and asks the girls for their input.

“We’ve got our own little garden outside the bowls office. There’s a beautiful mix of flowers and colour. It’s something many golfers will see as they walk to the Clubhouse – there’s definitely a bit of pride that goes into making it look the best.”

So what is it that keeps these volunteers turning up each week?

“It’s the sense of feeling a part of something”, says Barry.

“I’ve made some fantastic friends here. It’s a family club; it gives you security and friendship. The Club plays such an important role in the town. For people like myself, my wife Irene, and other retirees that move to town – it’s just an excellent environment to create new friendships and bring people together.”

Members interested in volunteering can direct all enquiries to stayandplay@yarragolf.com.au.

The 2022 Spring edition of The Kipsey is now available to download.

The Kipsey is Yarra Golf’s quarterly magazine, aimed at providing Members and guests with all the latest news, events and promotions at Yarra Golf for the upcoming season.

Edition also includes President and CEO Updates, and information regarding upcoming events.

About Rob Alexander

Marketing Manager, Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort
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