Sandy Creek Golf Club has been name the 2016 Club of the Year - Regional Small at the Clubs SA Awards for Excellence. The state-wide awards recognise outstanding achievement and service across a number of categories and were presented at a gala dinner at Adelaide Oval on Saturday evening.
The award is a fitting accolade for the Club which has undergone some significant changes in recent times, including a change in name, and is now making its mark as one of the premier clubs in the State.
Sandy Creek Golf Club General Manager David Rice said “It’s fantastic to see the Club recognised at his level, as well as the tireless work of so many people that have attributed to this success. The turn-around is significant, from a Club that just a few years ago was facing a very uncertain future.”
David attributes the turn-around in fortunes to the appointment of PGA Professional Brayden Wauchope (from Royal Adelaide GC) in 2013, followed by some very important strategic decisions made by a new and energised committee. “In a Club with such a rich history (dating back to 1904) change is often difficult, but change was exactly what was needed. The changes at the Club have been driven by a unified team and would not have happened without the overwhelming support of the majority of our members, who have embraced the exciting new direction we are taking.”
One of the key changes at the Club has been a change in name from Gawler Golf Club to Sandy Creek Golf Club - Barossa Valley, to better reflect the Club’s physical location and its proximity to the world famous Barossa Wine region. In addition the Club has introduced a new regionally focussed food and wine offering and embraced a very strong focus for engaging families and the wider community.
An example of this is the Club’s very successful family fun days and involvement in this year’s Barossa Gourmet Weekend, which included local food, wine, music and a bouncy castle and face painting for the kids. “While golf is our core business we are looking at ways to engage families and utilise our facilities outside of golf also. We want to make our Club and the game of golf more accessible for families and for those who are time poor, so providing an environment where the whole family can enjoy a day out is key”, said David.
The award for Club of the Year is the highest accolade presented at the Clubs SA Awards for Excellence. However, Sandy Creek Golf Club was also a finalist in the categories for Sports Club of the Year, Best Club Operations, Best Dining Experience and Volunteer of the Year.
David said, “Making it to the finalist stage for so many categories is a reflection of how much work has gone into improving the Club and our offering. At an operational level we have achieved a 93% turn around in our financial result in just 12 months, largely thanks to our team of dedicated volunteers. Gail Sweet and our team of bar volunteers put in countless hours and ask for nothing in return, they have allowed us to reduce our overheads significantly and have been key to our success - it was fantastic to see them all recognised as finalists in the category for Volunteer of the Year.”
It’s certainly been a busy time at the Sandy Creek Golf Club with renovations to their Club House, also achieved through volunteer labour, a new course layout launched in the last month and the Club also in the process of extending the driving range, practice greens and implementing a shortened par 3 course option to encourage junior, social and time poor players to get into the game.
The Club continues to play host to some fantastic family friendly events with a ‘Nine & Wine’ Ambrose night and Moon Light Cinema planned for October 28th and 29th, and a great line up of events planned during their Sandy Creek Classic, November 18th-20th.
The future is certainly bright for the Club with many new members and many former members returning to the Club thanks to the new direction. Golf SA, the state golfing body, has also selected Sandy Creek Golf Club as its regional tier 3 coaching hub due to the high level expertise of professional Brayden Wauchope. While an increase in visitor traffic since the re-branding and the support of many new sponsors is also paying dividends.
“I think the most satisfying thing about this award is that it is an over-arching award that recognises the work, commitment and the achievements of the whole team - it’s like winning the Premiership as opposed to winning the Brownlow. Everyone that has played a part in the changes and recent success of the Club is acknowledged in this award and everyone should be proud of what has been achieved”, said David. “Through all these changes it’s been important to preserve our rich history, while making sure we move forward and put ourselves in the best possible position for the future – standing still is not an option. What has been encouraging is the support of our members who have shown a readiness to embrace change, rather than hamper, they are helping us build a fantastic culture and future for the Club”.