Gift of club membership proved so much more

By Dominic Sainsbury
New Zealand PGA General Manager

I will never forget the Christmas of 1993.

It was the year my mum and dad got me my first golf club membership.

Under the Christmas tree was an envelope with a summer membership to the Waikanae Golf Club, north of Wellington.

Little did I know at the time that this would be the greatest gift I have ever received.

Twenty five years on I look back at where that membership has taken me, the relationships and friendships I have made along the way — and all of this is down to the great game of golf.

Membership at Waikanae, to me as a junior growing up on the Kapiti Coast, was more than just unlimited golf. It was a social connection to a wider community.

I developed communication and networking skills through playing in club competitions and tournaments as well as dealing with adversity when representing the club at interclub and being beaten by experienced golfers who knew how to score and not how just swing the club.

They say it takes a village to raise a person. This was certainly the case at Waikanae where so many people at the club provided an amazing amount of pastoral care to the juniors at the club.

There were so many members at the club who loved fostering the juniors and provided mentoring into the finer details of the game, especially around the values that golf provides a person. I developed a  respect and an appreciation for the ethics involved in golf, through the juniors that were integrated into the club.

Another great aspect of membership was being able to play and spend time with family, my father, mother and uncle who all played regular golf and, looking back, at the quality time we spent together on the course and the nurturing that took place is very special.

This is where I learnt how to set goals as all I wanted to do was beat my dad every time we played. This motivated me to practice and play more and pester him into playing whenever we could.

I learnt how to play all sorts of shots through game-based practice with other juniors around the club and the course. At the time we thought we were just mucking around but looking back the way we challenged each other rapidly developed our skill development as well as our imagination. When the course was quiet in an evening we would play cross country golf making up holes and our own course.

Twenty five years on that gift of golf has taken me all over the world, provided a career that I am dedicated and passionate about and introduced me to so many wonderful people who I am lucky to be able call friends all over the world.

Golf is more than a game and membership to a club is more than just the chance to play golf at your course whenever you want. Membership is joining a community of like-minded people who share a common interest. What you get out of membership to a golf club is a lot more than just playing golf.

This Christmas, give the gift that keeps on giving, give the gift of golf whether it be coaching sessions, membership, equipment, range balls or a green fee.