In both management and out on the course, Duntryleague is walking the talk when it comes to promoting gender equality.
Michelle Carroll is the Secretary Manager of Duntryleague Golf Club. Michelle oversees all the operations and finances of the golf club which encompass golf, retail, hospitality and accommodation. She leads a 66% female operational leadership team and reports to a board with 25% female representation, a figure reflective of the membership base.
Golf has traditionally been a male centric industry. In 2018, Golf Australia engaged the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop Guidelines for the Promotion of Equal Opportunity for Women and Girls in Golf (Vision 2025) to help clubs address that imbalance.
“I’m really proud of where Duntryleague stands today in terms of gender equality and where we are heading. Members are members. Visitors are visitors. Golfers are golfers. Everyone is welcome.
Duntryleague Golf Club has a mansion built in 1876 as the icon of their brand, but the future of their golf club is built around being a modern, progressive thinking club.
Golf Club Membership across Australia dropped to its lowest level in 20 years in 2019. Ironically it was the COVID-19 pandemic that has triggered a reversal to that trend.
“It is really important that we remain agile and forward thinking as a golf club. We have a captive audience at the moment and we need to make sure we are continually looking for ways to improve – the golf course, our food, our service, our facilities, our openness. Our customers need to receive a first class experience day in day out.
“I believe women do have a lot to offer organisations in terms of leadership. I lead with respect and empowerment. I want those who work for me to know they have a voice and that I trust their expertise. I give them autonomy, but at the same time everyone knows that above all we are a team.
Kristen Sherlock is the Food and Beverage Director, “it’s the way Michelle can walk that line between being able to identify and build rapport with her staff, but at the same time make the tough decisions in a professional way. She sets a great example.
Paula Smith, HR and Office Manager at Duntryleague explains “communication is really important to us and we make it a priority to keep lines of communication open and for all staff to know they can talk to management. You can only fix things if you know about them and an environment without open communication is a recipe for disaster.
Like all good leaders Michelle is not for a minute resting on her laurels – “yes things are in a good place at the moment but we do have some big challenges ahead. Our greatest asset, our mansion, is also probably the biggest of those challenges. The capital required to restore the Mansion to her former glory, whilst securing modern improvements such as a lift, all while keeping within heritage guidelines is big – $6 million dollars big. As a medium sized golf club we can’t hope to generate the sorts of profits that could fund that. The golf club contributes all they can and we have a dedicated Foundation working towards securing grants and also need to rely on generous donations. It’s hard slog, but we just have to keep trying. Doing nothing is not an option. The building is of national heritage significance and if we can get the sort of capital injection we need to restore the mansion, staying at Duntryleague will become a bucket list item in itself. It will become a much more profitable ongoing concern, and those funds can be put into continued maintenance and restoration so that this magnificent tribute to late 1800’s history can be preserved for many more generations.
Great leaders have vision, and Michelle speaks from the heart in describing her vision for Duntryleague.
“The mansion will be fully restored. It will be a unique and impressive place to stay. We’ll have a strong golfing membership base and a first rate, championship golf course rivalling the best the Hunter Valley, Sydney or the Murray can offer. Our restaurant will be one of the finest in Orange but beers on the deck with the best chips in town will always be part of us. We’ll be known as an open and inclusive venue that respects and welcomes everyone, member or non member. That’s our vision. That’s what we are working towards. If you are looking for a great experience, be that – golf, food, accommodation, atmosphere, environment, service – Duntryleague will be synonymous. We’ll be something in Orange that everyone is proud of.