By Chris Vogt
THERE is an aura surrounding the club at Barwon Heads. Much of its storied past is folklore in these parts. The ‘house on the hill’ surveys the sleepy seaside town and the coast beyond. Long a social destination for graziers from the Western District, it is also a second club for many Sandbelt members.
“The place oozes atmosphere”, says recently appointed general manager Anthony Masters, settling into a deep chesterfield near one of the cavernous fireplaces. Following a decade at nearby Thirteenth Beach, he “jumped the back fence, but into a different world”.
After overseeing 30,000 public rounds a year at 13th Beach, he craved an opportunity to offer a personal touch, a degree of intimacy with the Members. The role at Barwon Heads also enabled him to remain in the area.
“I have an affinity for this part of Victoria. My grandfather bought a block at Aireys Inlet during the 1960s. Most of my childhood holidays were spent there.”
New challenges also appealed to Masters. “There’s an opportunity to enhance the whole experience. But it’s such a well-run establishment that it’s more about tweaking than wholesale changes.”
Masters also admits to inheriting a first-class team.
“A recent member survey highlighted the quality of the staff, several of whom are in their third decade at Barwon Heads. It’s a privilege to work alongside these people.”
He also hopes to build on the already solid relationship the Club has with the town.
“The Committee identified Community Engagement as crucial. We will continue our fundraising activities, and strengthen links with the surf club and local charities. The Club has a significant role to play.”
Although a fiercely traditional members club, Barwon Heads engages with the public via its Par 3 course (open to all), and its much loved House Guest offering. The latter is well supported by Members.
“They want guests to have the Barwon Heads experience: to leave the outside world behind for a while.”
That’s not hard to do around here.