Tiffany Cherry is on a mission to drive greater female participation in golf.
Tell us about your new role at Golf Australia as head of female engagement.
I sit across all facets of Australian golf from grassroots to our elite, as it relates to female engagement. In summary, my role is to get more women and girls playing this great game!
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You co-host a podcast called ‘The Australian Golf Show’. What is the show about and what is your contribution?
We are the official golf show for Australian golf, providing a smorgasbord of stories and information about the game, from across Australia and around the world. Our goal is to be fun, informative and great at telling our story better, so we can grow the game and bring new fans along the journey. We are very focused on seeing golf through the lens of gender equality, hence Mark Allen, a former tour pro and experienced radio personality, and I joining forces as your hosts, with Golf Australia media manager Martin Blake providing weekly news updates from around the traps. You can follow us on Twitter: @austgolfshow, where we post the link for each week’s show, as well as on the Golf Australia website, golf.org.au
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You have an extensive and impressive background in sports media. What inspired you to work in the golf industry?
I’ve been around golf since I was little, with my dad playing every week. If he wasn’t working, he was on the golf course. However, while my older brother was encouraged to play, I wasn’t. It simply wasn’t ‘a game for girls’. I remember thinking I would wait until I could be taught by a pro and then I’d play my family!
Fast forward 20 years and I was working at Channel Seven in Melbourne as a sports reporter. I was the only female and my colleagues would often attend charity/celebrity golf days and come back with exclusive stories. I was like, What? So I decided to join them and started lessons. I’ve since had the privilege of playing on some of the most iconic courses across Australia and around the world. The game has introduced me to incredible people and inspired me to create my own golf day to encourage more women to take up this brilliant game – not only for the health and social benefits, but the incredible networking opportunities.
Then, last year, I was asked by Golf Australia to facilitate their two-day strategy session and was really impressed with what I was hearing, and the new direction golf was heading under a united front by the three CEOs: Karen Lunn, Gavin Kirkman and James Sutherland. When this role came up, I applied with no hesitation.
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What do you consider to be your career highlights to date?
When I realised in my early 20s that I wasn’t good enough to run for Australia at the Olympics, my dream shifted to hosting the Olympic coverage and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to co-host the Winter, Summer and Commonwealth Games. Additionally, I worked for the biggest sports network in the world, ESPN, and was lucky enough to cover the US Open golf at Bethpage and a variety of PGA Tour events. I also went to The Open when I was working at Channel Seven and covered numerous Australian Opens/PGA Championships, my most memorable being the year Aaron Baddeley won his first event as a professional to defend his Australian Open title at Kingston Health in 2000. We did the live cross with him back into the news during the presentation!
Additionally, I was sent out to Moorabbin Airport because we had heard a whisper Greg Norman had landed his private plane there. We thought our cover had been blown when a golf buggy started driving towards us as we were filming 500 metres away, but instead we were given a personal invitation from ‘Mr Norman’ to come right up to the plane and interview him on the promise we would also include the young ‘kid’ he had brought with him. That kid turned out to be Adam Scott before anyone really knew about him, so we scored two exclusives in the one day!
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Can you name a person who has made a tremendous impact on you?
I met Bruce McAvaney through my training partner in the mid-’90s, when he was doing a story on her and not long after bumped into him while running The Tan. He had been told I was interested in journalism and took me under his wing, helping me land my first gig at Channel Seven as one of the reporters for ‘Talking Footy’. Bruce showed me what it takes to be a great sports journalist, emphasising the importance of always being prepared and doing the background work when you’re not working, so that you are ready to go when you are. He instilled a great work ethic in me and really made me believe in myself. A couple of years later, my first live cross ended up being with Bruce and more than a million viewers who were watching the Brownlow Medal count of 1997.
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What are your career goals for the future?
I am driven to see women’s golf on equal pegging to the men’s game, in all facets, and to help drive this sport to become one of the top participation activities in all formats, for all age groups, across Australia. I can’t wait to witness our first female and male Australian Olympic gold medallists, see Australian names holding the world No.1 ranking and more Major trophies aloft, inspiring the next generation of Australian kids to enjoy the great game of golf.
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What strategies could be implemented to encourage more women to take up golf?
First, encourage your existing women members – especially ones with business backgrounds – to join the board and committees beyond the traditional ladies committee. We must be the change we want to see.
We must ensure every first experience with golf is an enjoyable, welcoming and memorable one. From here, there needs to an offering of golf that suits the lifestyle of women, both working and those home, raising children. We have our national Get Into Golf programs, which can definitely help you, but it might be offering women to play three or four holes and then enjoy a coffee or glass of wine with their girlfriends afterwards.
Make it cost effective – if you don’t have a strict dress code, let women wear what they want, borrow clubs and offer lessons in groups, with a free weekly bucket of balls to entice them to come back. Organise your programs in groups (set up a WhatsApp group), so women feel safe and have a friend to share the experience with and try to engage a woman professional or community instructor, if you can. Turn your driving ranges into an ‘outdoor bar’, offering food-and-beverage service. Look into partnerships with local childcare facilities for new mums and those with pre-school-aged children. Make sure there is an offering along every step of the journey and let them choose what suits them best. Golf is the new ‘FUNteer’, so make it fun and make it easy!