PGA professional Craig Stickling dispelled one of golf’s greatest myths for participants at the Get Into Golf program he conducted at Forster-Tuncurry Golf Club.

The set-up was everything. PGA professional Craig Stickling knew that the 25 women who were coming to Forster-Tuncurry Golf Club for the six-week Get Into Golf program would have some preconceptions about walking into a golf club for the first time.

He knew they might be nervous. He suspected some apprehension. He expected them to be anxious about trying a sport for the first time. So he played into it.

Stickling presented himself in the most professional way possible and took them straight to the practice bunker to show how a PGA professional plays arguably the most feared shot among newcomers to the game. He duffed it – barely moved the ball six inches. It was deliberate, of course, but Stickling wanted to do two things: release the tension and show that bad shots happen to every golfer at any level.

“Once I start to laugh, they all laugh and then I tell them that it doesn’t matter who you are, at times you’re going to hit a bad shot,” Stickling shared. “All of a sudden that big sense of stress that you can feel is gone because everyone is laughing. I did that at the start of every lesson.”

With her two children at an age when time is more available, Natalie McQuillan signed up for the Get Into Golf program at Forster in June. With no history in the game, McQuillan said the atmosphere created by Stickling and members at the club made her entry into golf one of fun and enjoyment.

“I was a little bit shy because I was unsure of the skill level of everyone else, but the club was very welcoming and Craig made sure we were all relaxed and ready to have fun,” McQuillan said. “He’s a really good teacher. He makes everyone feel really comfortable and explains things really well.

“By the end of the six-week course, we all had the basic skills of the game and enough confidence to organise a social game on a Saturday. It also gave us some of the etiquette and a sense of feeling more comfortable at a golf course.”

A former board member of the PGA of South Africa, Stickling has recently joined New South Wales Golf Club as director of golf. He says programs such as Get Into Golf are crucial in establishing a pathway into the game. He previously ran Get Into Golf and junior programs alongside Evan Droop at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort and says such entry points help dispel any myths that people may have.

“It’s about coming out and socialising, being in nature, getting some exercise and having fun,” adds Stickling, who sourced financial support from Wiseberry Real Estate in Forster to sponsor the first 25 women to sign up for the program. “There are tremendous mental and physical health benefits that come from it and that was really the main reason I wanted to run those programs at Yarrawonga and Forster.

“Often new people who come to a golf club are overwhelmed. They don’t know where to go, they feel uncomfortable so you need to make sure that they can get that welcome and positive experience from start to finish. People come to the golf club to spend their recreational time, so they want to have fun and enjoy it.

“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just make it more accessible and easier for people to access the game in different ways. The whole idea was to get these ladies involved in golf and hopefully they will love it so much that they want to come back.”

So positive was the experience that McQuillan enjoyed during her introduction to the game through Stickling, her golf clubs are permanently in the boot of the car. Just in case.

“From not ever playing before, it’s crazy how quickly you can get addicted to golf,” she admits. “I’ve got the golf clubs in the back of the car every day and I’m always trying to sneak in a little practice. I’m getting more competitive within myself and wanting to get better, but I really enjoy the friendships and the social element that the game has given me.” 

• Whether you’re a long-time golfer or just starting out, a PGA professional can help you get the most out of your game. To find the PGA professional nearest to you, visit For more information on Get Into Golf, visit