Amanda Bowman helped lift a club in rural South Australia off its knees and as a result she has won an all-expenses paid trip to the ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
Crystal Brook Golf Club was exploring the option of closing half their 18-hole course in order to survive until Bowman, a physical education teacher at the local primary school, not only got a MyGolf schools program up-and-running for the first time in 25 years but attracted 57 juniors.
Her efforts secured her Golf Australia’s Community Instructor of the Year award – and has also been nominated for the Australian Sports Commission’s Sport Volunteer of the Year Award which will be announced on December 15 – but she insists it was a team effort.
“I’m very spoiled (to be going to the ISPS HANDA Australian Open). I feel very humbled and very honored,” Bowman said.
“There’s a lot of people that do a lot of good stuff at our club. I just seem to be the face of it. We’re very lucky because everyone volunteers.”
That culture of people sticking their hand up to help out is how Bowman’s journey bringing kids to golf began.
In fact, it all started once she became outnumbered by golfers in her family.
“I don’t play golf,” Bowman said.
“My husband, Scott, has played golf since he was a junior. We both grew up in Crystal Brook. He was in the last round of juniors at the club. I think they had three juniors playing that year and 25 years later my daughters got into it.
“My husband is a shift worker and that’s something they can do with him. Zara, our oldest, plays and our youngest Lily is really into it, and she’s getting quite good.
“Having both of them involved, I was like ‘what can I do to help the club?’. My husband was the president at the time and they were thinking about closing nine holes because they didn’t have the membership. I said ‘how come you haven’t done anything with juniors? We can just start something and we’ll see what can happen.”
In addition to teaching, Bowman also works for School Sport SA as a district and zone coordinator.
That role means she is well versed in government grants and she immediately got to work on securing sets of clubs, low pressure balls, pieces of turf to hit from and more equipment for the first staging of the program last year.
“I got a sporting schools grant through the Australian Institute of Sport which we got most terms and I decided we’d do golf,” Bowman said.
“We got a community instructor and we went out to the golf course for three weeks during PE lessons. The school is 800 meters from the golf club so we just walked there. We went to the committee to get some more help and a heap of people came out to coach some groups.”
Those initial PE lessons led to the MyGolf program taking off at Crystal Brook with 30 students from the local primary school taking part.
The remaining 27 juniors came from surrounding areas where parents were driving their children up to an hour one-way to get to the sessions.
More parents are playing golf at the club as a result, but the strong numbers also created further investment for this year’s edition of the junior program.
Crystal Brook is a winter course so the start of the program was held back until the golf season began to ensure that the children were not playing on dirt, and when they did get under way they had an array of new equipment to use.
Bowman won another Sporting Schools grant and used the funding to purchase ten sets of junior clubs from Drummond Golf.
That number was matched by the golf club to create a collection of 20 junior sets, which are available for hire at times outside of the junior sessions for $5, and Drummond Golf even put in $500 worth of vouchers to use as prizes during junior competitions.
They also received a $2000 grant for targets, flags, ropes and other items to help deliver MyGolf after working with Allan Telford, Golf Australia’s regional development officer in South Australia.
Despite the influx of equipment, the junior program unfortunately dropped in numbers to 44 participants due to the local junior soccer changing its day to Sunday and creating a clash.
Thankfully a change will be made next year to avoid a clash as MyGolf at Crystal Brook and in surrounding areas goes from strength to strength with an influx of community instructors.
As part of her role with School Sport SA Bowman regularly organizes professional development for teachers and she encourages staff to become community instructors to then conduct MyGolf lessons at their schools.
Crystal Brook ran the sessions on the requirement that they deliver three sessions to ensure that people did not get the accreditation and did not help out.
Participants came from Port Hughes and Napperby which are roughly an hour’s drive away from Crystal Brook in other directions.
Which means that Bowman’s influence has been on more than junior golf throughout rural South Australia, not only at Crystal Brook.
“If you wanted to play junior golf, you had to drive to Adelaide,” Bowman said. “Now there’s junior golf in Crystal Brook, Port Hughes, Napperby, Port Pirie and Port Augusta.”