In the wool and wheat district about thirty minutes out from Wagga Wagga is a quiet town named after its dominant local geological feature. The Rock, boasting a population of just over a thousand, traditionally draws visitors eager to scale its craggy allure. But now there’s a new draw bringing people to town, especially the younger generation.
Just three years ago, The Rock Golf Club had a mere 20 members. Thanks to the ingenuity of David Bayley, who works at the local school, that number has surged to over 50. Bayley’s vision was simple yet impactful: attract kids to play golf in the hope that their parents would follow suit.
“I spoke with a few of my golf mates, and we chucked around a few ideas. I was thinking we would get maybe six to eight kids,” he said.
But he got much more than that, with an average of 40 kids taking part in the club’s free golf clinics since its inception.
“We have kids from The Rock, Lockhart, and Wagga Wagga. The clinics run for six weeks before Christmas and six weeks in the new year after the kids go back to school.”
Families aren’t charged a cent for the clinics, and the coaches are local farmers and businessmen dedicating their time to help better the sport.
Generous supporters contribute to the dream, providing additional perks. As a sweet reward, kids conclude their sessions with a refreshing ice block and a chance to win a brand-new golf ball each week.
The festive spirit comes alive with a pre-Christmas bash, featuring Santa’s grand entrance on a decked-out fire truck. Parents contribute small gifts, distributed by the man in the red suit, while everyone relishes a sizzling sausage feast – a treat for kids, parents, and coaches alike.
It’s evident that The Rock Golf Club, led by individuals like David Bayley, is committed to sharing their love for golf with the younger generation, and the kids are loving it.
The club now has three divisions for its junior members, based on age and skill level.
Division 1 consists of dedicated 10 to 12-year-olds, playing six holes every Tuesday evening.
“We have six boys in this division who play regularly with the men and do more than make the numbers up,” Bayley added.
Division 2, comprising of seven to nine-year-olds, receives focused group instruction with promising signs of progression in their golf skills.
Division 3, featuring four to eight-year-olds and first-year golfers, emphasizes fun and the joy of hitting the ball.
Beyond boosting member numbers, the involvement of kids helps The Rock Golf Club meet grant requirements, offering opportunities to enhance facilities for everyone’s enjoyment.
“The kids are the future, but I’m very grateful to all the parents and our coaches, many of whom don’t have ties to the kids, but they put their hands up to help. We wouldn’t be able to do this without them. It all makes me so proud.”