Rokewood is a small Victorian town of around 200 residents, situated 40 kilometres south of Ballarat. Rokewood is known for its picturesque rural setting, historical landmarks, and a strong sense of community.
The small town boasts two clubs – a football club and a Golf Club. Rokewood Golf Club, established in 1933, is a nine-hole course with sand scrapes.
However, 90 years after its establishment, the Golf Club faced permanent closure when membership numbers dwindled to less than 20.
To address this, seven months ago the committee turned to the community for assistance, inviting the town to attend a meeting after putting the club into ‘caretaker mode’.
The response was phenomenal. Over a quarter of the town’s population turned up, many offering to volunteer for the club, and more than half joining the club straight away.
A new committee was formed. The new secretary for the committee, Daniel Mason, previously had no interest in golf, but is passionate about keeping the town’s few amenities going.
Mason realised that the club’s challenge was to bring in new people. The club predominantly consisted of an older age group and needed to attract a younger demographic to keep it going.
To help achieve this, they began community engagement using social media for the first time.
In another win, the local wind farm has also taken up sponsorship.
The club is now very optimistic about its new lease on life and hopes its story will inspire other small clubs who are in a similar situation.
The inspiration has already begun, with another small town club opening up discussions with Rokewood Golf Club via Rokewood’s Facebook page to restart previous events between the two clubs.
Jake Cole-Sinclair, Golf Australia’s Relationship Officer for the region, led the change for Rokewood Golf Club.
Cole-Sinclair said, “With a number of clubs in similar positions and holding discussions around closures, I think the fact they went to the residents of the town demonstrates the importance of small clubs telling their stories”.