All South West sporting clubs were impacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with health and social restrictions impacting on and off course operations. Thankfully for Bunbury Golf Club general manager Des Shearer and other regional WA golf clubs, things are finally getting somewhat back to normal. “The new normal,” he said. “Golf participation is up 20 per cent nationally since pre-COVID. It’s been very steady over the last two years. “There’s been some great initiatives from the governing bodies. Obviously Golf Australia with their promotion of ‘all golf is golf’, which is boosted by the amount of off-course golf centres, including X Golf and driving ranges, which are developing new players. “Eventually, these players end up playing the real thing at facilities such as ours.” Together with junior co-ordinator Peta Van Wyk, Shearer is committed to increasing the club’s junior base — with a particular emphasis on female players. “I think it’s still hard work competing with other sports,” Van Wyk said. “But, we keep having open days here for the juniors. The club has been very proactive in offering some free ‘have a go’ days to try and encourage those who may have never been or tried golf before. “It’s probably one of the sports which is a little more expensive than most, in terms of equipment and things, so we’ve been able to offer some opportunities there. “We’ve just picked up the girls scholarship again through Golf Australia for five players, for the fourth successive year. “The biggest area which needs impetus is girls in golf, because they are the hardest to attract and hardest to retain. We offer a girls class here, because they often feel more comfortable training with other girls.” For those keen to watch some quality tournament action over the school holidays, the Treendale Bunbury Junior Open 18-hole stroke championship will be held on January 5 at the club, with some of the best male and female juniors in the State battling it out for glory.