2023 11 news marilyn top gongIt’s a word more common these days, but rarely in the 114 years of the Portarlington Golf Club has the term “trailblazer” been more apt.

Marilyn Mooney this week became just the 42nd person in the club’s rich history to be recognised as a life member, presented with the club’s highest honour by director Ian Assender at the annual general meeting.

Most would say it recognises her “work” at the club; but, typically, Marilyn herself says it has been anything but.

“To receive recognition for doing stuff you love to do is amazing,” Marilyn said with great humility.

“I love the club, so I’m extremely humbled by this and I’m absolutely chuffed, to be honest, because it’s totally unexpected and not at all why any of us in (official) roles in the club do the things we do.”

Outgoing president John Bowman was effusive in his praise of someone he described as “tireless” in fulfilling any requests the club had of her.

“Everybody who has seen our honour boards knows that Marilyn has held various board roles within the club, but that doesn’t tell the whole story about her, nor her work ethic,” John said.

“She has been in just about every little group going, doing things with no reward or things that we just can’t get other volunteers to do.
“From being here every weekend for the juniors to standing in the rain directing cars when we have a tournament here and a thousand other small roles in addition to all the formal ones she’s had, Marilyn has literally done it all.

“She is the archetypal great clubperson. She never says ‘no’ and brings great integrity to everything she does around the club.

“We’ve been lucky to have her among us and while life membership is not something we hand out too regularly, it’s absolutely appropriate in Marilyn’s case because she epitomises everything we want the club to stand for.

“She’s an inspiration to many people.”
Marilyn and her partner Jeanette moved to Portarlington from Melbourne’s west, almost accidentally, in 2002.

“We knew we wanted to get out of the city, but we didn’t really have a firm plan of where we wanted to go and live,” Marilyn recalled.

“But we got a great feeling about this area and when we did actually move down, we wanted to become a part of the community.”

Marilyn, a teacher by trade, had never played golf until she came to Port, but was soon bitten by not only the sporting bug, but another to help the club progress and modernise.

“So we started playing and Jeanette and I found it a great way to learn about the town and the people. Then Greg Wood asked me to help out the juniors with clinics on Sunday morning not long after that and that’s really where it all began.”

And maybe “all” is an understatement.
Marilyn was elected to the board in 2007 and served until 2018 and then again from 2020-22.

In that time, Marilyn was elected president and served in that role for two years from 2017, becoming the first female leader of the club since it began in 1909.

Other duties Marilyn has fulfilled include ladies’ committee board representative and as junior development officer. She has also served on committees for strategy, course maintenance and development, finance, memorabilia and tournaments.

Together with another former president Tony Meagher, Marilyn helped compile and later update the club’s historical centenary book.

Most recently, Marilyn gave her time to be a part of the rules and bylaw review for the new committee.

And they’re just the formal roles among dozens of others that have largely gone unnoted.

“I like being involved and feeling like I’m helping,” said Marilyn, who says it doesn’t remotely feel like two decades of involvement.

“Jeanette and I felt like we were accepted as part of the club straight away, which made things easier, but the club was much smaller then and nothing like what it has become today.

“I guess I became involved as I was invited to different roles, but then when it came the right time for me to put my name up as the potential president, I felt – at least in some way – that it was my responsibility as a woman.

“You do need to show up and be a role model so that men, but mostly for other women so they can see that we can do jobs, do them well and for the right reasons.

“There’s actually no real barrier to doing things like that, but not everyone sees it that way, so it’s important to show others they can do it, too.

“I’ve loved being involved because, as a rule, there are no egos involved and you just get to contribute in a meaningful way.”
Asked about what makes her so proud of the Portarlington Golf Club, Marilyn hesitated before saying there’s no one standout feature.

“Like everything, it’s the people you associate with, but I think generally we’ve become a far, far bigger club than many once would have thought possible.
“I like to think that we’ve become a major player in the golf community and also our community as a whole … and that’s come about with a lot of planning and building from the foundations that were laid.

“Every little part of the foundation that was laid might not have been thought of as important at the time, but without them, the huge steps forward that we’ve taken as a club in the past couple of years wouldn’t have happened … and that makes me very proud.

“All the changes make it an exciting place to come to. All the things you can do in the clubhouse and have a nice place to relax and come along with friends to eat and take pride in it all, we’re very privileged.

“And the changes in the course itself have been absolutely amazing … we have one of the best courses you could find anywhere now, particularly in terms of its condition.”

“I’ve got great pride in all the improvements that have kept on happening and with each change in board and management, we seem to take another step forward.
“I’m very lucky that I’ve got time to appreciate what (this honour) means and being a life member at a club I feel pretty privileged to have been involved with.
“I still help out and any little projects that need people to help, I’m happy to keep volunteering – it’s fun.

“I’ve been very lucky to have worked with a whole lot of great people who are doing things because they want to contribute.

“So my instant feeling when I heard my name mentioned (as a life member) was of total shock …

“Actually, I’m really chuffed. I see it as prestigious and a real honour.

“Yeah, it was a moment in my life that really hit me. I was very emotional.

“Pride was how I felt. And walking up (to the lectern), I did feel very proud. It’s lovely to get that acknowledgement.”

From all at the club, Marilyn, please accept our hearty thanks.