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Kiama Golf Club appoints first female club captain

The Bugle App

Danielle Woolage

22 June 2024, 11:00 PM

Kiama Golf Club appoints first female club captainMargaret Cooper is Kiama Golf Club's first female Club Captain

When Kiama golfer Margaret Cooper took up the sport more than a decade ago, she never imagined she would one day make history. Margaret was recently appointed Club Captain of Kiama Golf Club, the first time a woman has taken on the crucial role of shaping the culture and community of the club.

“I guess I am an accidental trailblazer,” says Margaret who became Club Captain under tragic circumstances when former Club Captain Glenn Whiteford passed away suddenly. 

Margaret was Vice Club Captain and stepped into the position at a board meeting called after Glenn’s sad passing. She plans to continue the hard work done by Glenn, who she describes as “one of nature’s true gentlemen”.

“Glenn was very humble,” says Margaret. “He was friendly but fair, and just a really lovely man who was very dedicated to making sure that golf ran well at the club and nobody was left out. I would like to continue what Glenn started and make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.”

Margaret took up golf when she retired from teaching in 2013. Her husband Jim was a member at Kiama and he encouraged her to join and get lessons. 

“We thought it would be nice to throw in a set of clubs when we go on holidays and have a game,” says Margaret. At no time did she think she would be at the helm, steering the club into the future. 

“I didn’t even know if I’d enjoy the game or not,” laughs Margaret. “But once I got started I was hooked, I just love it.” 

As a former teacher-librarian Margaret is a natural-born leader and always one of the first to put her hand up and help where needed. She was women’s captain for three years, Vice Club Captain and has been on the match committee for five years.

‘I’d only been playing for a year when I volunteered to join the women’s golf committee,” said Margaret. “Then I just continued to help out where I could. I don’t think there is anything in the role that says Club Captain should be exclusively a man’s job, even though this is the first time there’s been a female Club Captain at Kiama.”

“While it’s not something I keep track of, Margaret is likely to be the only female Club Captain in the Illawarra,” says Club General Manager David Rootham.

“The Club has always been very forward thinking in that way,” says Margaret. “Groundbreaking really, with one of the first female professional golfers, Elle Sandak, running the pro shop before she went on maternity leave.”

The Club was also an early adopter of abolishing the associate member’s policy, giving women full member’s rights in the 1990s. There are now 150 female members at Kiama Golf Club and Margaret is proud to be involved in a club, and sport, that is inclusive of everyone. She says this inclusivity is something Glenn worked hard to achieve, and a legacy she will continue.

“One of the greatest things about golf is having time with mates, for both our men and women golfers,” says Margaret. So I think it’s very important that we have a balance between pursuing competition golf and encouraging visitors and members’ social golf too. Everybody in our Club is very friendly and the staff who work here are wonderful. It really is a community hub here, people come here to play golf, to socialise, families come here for dinner. It’s a wonderful club to be a part of.”

The Kiama Golf Club first began on a farmer's property near Kiama High School in 1903. Players would move fences and mow greens onto paddocks before each round, and return the fences once they finished. In the 1930s the Club moved to its current Minnamurra site, with close to 60 members. Fast forward 90 years and the club now boasts just under 1000 members.

“That’s not bad for a small regional course,” says David. “With all this rain we are one of the few courses that is still playable.”

“There’s rarely a time when someone is not out there playing the course,” says Margaret, who expects to be a whole lot busier in her new role.