So, Oakleigh it is, where people can get back to the fun of hitting the ball, finding it, and hitting it again until it finds its way into the hole.

In his short time at the course – he started on October 1 last year – Jamieson has established some significant partnerships.

He has engaged Linda Chen, a friend who speaks mandarin, to assist him in encouraging some of Oakleigh’s large multicultural community.

He has approached Nikki Wilson, founder of Fairway Birdies which encourages females at grassroots level into golf. Wilson sets up clinics at various golf facilities and then supports participants as they start out in golf. The relationship with Oakleigh created an opportunity to give Fairway Birdies a permanent home.

“Although most of our ladies tend to still play at the course where they’ve had their initial clinics, this is still a great place for them to call home, to be able to go out and have a game with other women and build on what they’ve learned so far. Oakleigh is a hidden gem that’s perfect for learning and improving,” Wilson said.

RIGHT: Jamieson has engaged Linda Chen to assist him in encouraging the mandarin community.

The chance for women and girls to get into golf at Oakleigh will soon become greater, thanks to a relationship now in place with Huntingdale Golf Club, another Melbourne Sandbelt club, a short distance away. As part of that relationship, Huntingdale teaching professional Lisa Jean will conduct regular clinics at Oakleigh.

“It has long been a thing of mine that private clubs should embrace public golf courses,” said Jamieson.

“Lisa came down and had a chat and I also spoke with Alex McGillivray, the general manager. The relationship with Huntingdale is a really exciting one because Huntingdale ‘get it’; they fully understand what I’m trying to do. They’re going to recommend that friends and family of members interested in learning golf do it via Oakleigh. They’re not expecting them all to then join Huntingdale; they’re saying if in the long run, they do, that’s great, but we have an obligation to golf, to get people into the game whether it directly benefits our business in the short term or not. And it’s a lot easier experience for them to learn here than at a testing course like Huntingdale.”

McGillivray is excited by the partnership.

“In my 35 years in sport administration, mostly in golf, I’ve never seen a concept that is so accessible for people to get into the game; the simplicity of it is magnificent,” McGillivray says. “Sandy is also a very experienced, high level coach who’s been around the game a long time. He’s a man of reputation within the industry who delivers on what he says.

“The alignment of Sandy’s vision and our strategic vision is perfect. Huntingdale is not a beginners’ course and bringing them to start the game here would probably scare them off.  The combination of having somewhere to funnel golfers, including our key focus areas of women and juniors, Sandy’s coaching philosophy and a local course works beautifully for us. And Sandy’s 1Club is brilliant and affordable. With that, golf can compete with Auskick and other sports, because the biggest problem for golf is the cost to enter the game.”

David Gallichio, Manager – Golf Development at Golf Australia, also sees the benefit of Jamieson’s work.

“Sandy’s 1Club is brilliant and affordable … Golf can compete with other sports because the biggest problem for golf is the cost.” – Alex McGillivray

“1Club Golf is a fantastic initiative from Sandy, and Golf Australia is very much looking forward to continuing our discussion on how we can work together to grow the game. It is not news to anyone that beginners can often find it challenging to commence their journey within the sport and Sandy has tackled this issue head on and is to be commended,” he said.

Christian Hamilton, Inclusion Senior Manager, and Inclusion Officer Sabrin Nyawela, both of Golf Australia, have also been out to Oakleigh to check things out and loved what
they saw.

Another partnership forged by Jamieson is with Glenn Holland’s Protecting the Protectors program, supporting Victorian police officers with post-traumatic stress disorder. Jamieson had started a Facebook page called Hospital and Emergency Workers Learning and Playing Golf and reached out to Holland to make Oakleigh available to his group.

“If we can create a bit of a haven at Oakleigh for these people, it will be great. The golf course is quiet and peaceful at the times they can play. And golf is all-consuming, too, so it takes their mind off things for that period. It’s like a meditation. It’s a respite from the stress of life.”

Jamieson is a straight shooter, an unstructured bloke. He’s also a guy who has the best interests of golf and its players at heart. And for him, it’s all about the big picture, about growing the game from the ground up, about getting people to just have a go at golf, about keeping things easy and fun.

“We can lose sight of the simple pleasure of just hitting a golf ball …” – Sandy Jamieson

“We can lose sight of the simple pleasure of just hitting a golf ball. And the more people we can get to experience that, the more people we can say, hey, listen, golf is inclusive, golf is easy, golf is for everybody, come and have a go,” he says.

“Even if they don’t all go on with the game, they’ve had a great time and that’s positive. They might come back to golf later or they might just spread a positive word about golf. And that’s a good thing.

“Hopefully going back to the joy of playing with one club will get people into golf. It’s a long game but I’m willing to play the long game.”