ASK anyone associated with or supporters of the Sydney Swans and they will tell you it was a key ingredient in the Paul Roos dynasty that delivered the club a drought-breaking premiership in 2005 and another near miss 12 months later.
It was coined the “no dickheads” policy and was seen as integral in developing a club culture that bred success and has since been adopted by many other sporting teams and also within the corporate world.
Those at Indooroopilly Golf Club would never use such crass terminology to describe the vetting of potential members to their club in Brisbane’s inner west, but there is an inherent belief that the environment the club has created in recent years must be protected at all costs.
While many golf clubs in Australia are opening their doors and striking exorbitant joining fees from the requirements of prospective members, Indooroopilly has managed to keep membership of their club aspirational and the reason is simple: it’s a place where members feel that they belong.
Located in a picturesque corner of Brisbane less than 10 kilometres from the CBD but a world away from any sense of hustle and bustle associated with Australia’s third biggest city, Indooroopilly uses the snaking Brisbane River as not only a framework for its 36-hole complex but as a sanctuary from stress.
With four separate nines that each return to a modern clubhouse that stands sentinel, a round at Indooroopilly can consist of any one of six configurations. But while they may come for the golf, they stay for the mateship.
“We conducted a members survey recently and what we found was that the major reason people were enjoying their membership was the camaraderie within the club,” said general manager Maurice Holland.
“When we interview prospective members, we are not interested in whether they can pay or play but their persona and how that fits into the club’s philosophy.
“The majority of new member applications that we are receiving come via member referrals and you simply don’t get those referrals unless you have a membership that is both happy and proud of the club to which they belong.
“And we intend to keep it that way.”
In an ever-evolving Australian golf market, Indooroopilly has been conscious to reach out to sectors of the community that may not have traditionally considered becoming members of a golf club.
There is a fee structure tailored to be attractive to both younger and older members, a junior clinic that continues to grow in numbers, a ladies beginner program titled Let’s Golf that has proven wildly popular and a seniors beginner program tailored to those who have recently retired but perhaps have little background in golf.
“This is a very inclusive club and by that I mean a club whereby all members mix regularly and play together regularly,” said club captain Mike Hume.
“The ladies committee is very proactive in welcoming new members, our mixed and medley events are very well supported and taken very seriously at the club and we often see grandparents bringing the young ones out for a hit or to attend one of our junior clinics.
“There are still some areas of the golf course that need attention and which we will address in time but there’s no doubt we’ve got the right mix of people within the club at present.”
A graduate of the PGA’s International Golf Institute program at Griffith University, David Scott has returned to Queensland after a stint at Riverside Oaks in Sydney’s north-west to take up the position of director of golf at Indooroopilly and was struck by the passion inherent within the club’s membership.
“There’s no question that the members here care greatly about their club,” Scott said. “It’s also a very active membership and that comes largely from the fact that they enjoy each other’s company and have a good time each time they come to the club.”
If you are a member at Indooroopilly, there is an excellent chance that over the past five years you have had a hit with former Queensland Origin star and now host of Fox Sports’ rugby league show “NRL 360”,Ben Ikin. After joining the club five years ago Ikin has become a self-confessed “golf tragic” and over the summer months can play competitions twice a week and sneak out for up to three more early morning rounds during the course of the week.
He will regularly slot in as a single in other groups and even after all the golf he has played – a lot of golf – is yet to meet a member who would violate the club’s personality ethos.
“I put my name down anywhere with anyone at any time,” Ikin told Australian Golf Digest. “It doesn’t bother me which 18 I play, I don’t care who I play comp with, so in not playing with the same group of people all the time I’ve met a stack of members and I’m yet to meet a bad person. They’ve all been really good company.
“I really enjoy the company of the staff there and the way they treat people; I’ve become friends with some of the pros there and I’m loving the game and the environment. It’s been nothing but good
Indeed, simply putting his name down on the tee sheet has provided Ikin with golf opportunities most Aussie sports fans would die for.
In January he was joined by none other than former Australian cricket captain Allan Border, while one of his earliest rounds as a member was alongside three touring professionals who call Indooroopilly home: Matthew Guyatt, Adam Blyth and Paul Hayden.
“I turned up and I’d never met them before and didn’t know who they were,” Ikin recalled. “We swapped cards and they were off +5, +4 and +3. I didn’t even know what that meant! I’d never encountered that before!
“It took us all of about half the first hole to work out that I was a golf tragic and they were all Broncos tragics, so all I wanted to do was talk about golf and all they wanted to do was talk about league.
“It was my wife who encouraged me to find ways to fill in my spare days once I went full-time with Fox Sports, so I joined Indooroopilly and really haven’t looked back.
“I enjoy the club, I’ve made some really good friends there, there are four great nines and fantastic practice facilities. Along the way I kind of got obsessed with the game of golf, which has been much fun.”
With a severe dose of the golfing bug and Indooroopilly’s promotion of family membership packages where joining fees for children are waived, Ikin signed two of his children up for the eight-week junior program but it hasn’t quite taken hold like it has for their father.
“My view was that if golf and fatherhood could unite it would be like nirvana,” Ikin said. “They had a good time and improved but I just couldn’t get them to bite. So the advice that I’ve been given from some friends is to let them fall in love with the game themselves.
“They’ve been given a taste and it was a really positive experience for them but it just hasn’t paid off the way I’d hoped. Yet.”
And when they are ready there will be a warm environment ready to welcome them. Club captain Mike Hume’s son Rod is one of the trainee professionals at the club, and on the day Australian Golf Digest visited there were youngsters both out having a hit on course and others on the practice range.
The Poinciana Bar that overlooks the ninth green of the Blue nine is an elegant yet casual open-air area that serves to bring you into the club without having to set foot inside. And there are more formal dining experiences within the clubhouse along with the Members Terrace.
It is all designed to deliver a golf club experience of the highest quality without any sense of pretension and why those who already belong are so eager to share it with those who fit the club’s recruitment criteria.
Indooroopilly Golf Club
Where: Meiers Rd, Indooroopilly QLD 4068
Phone: (07) 3721 2121