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Member Profile – May 2021

 Michael Phillips

CEO  Port Arlington Golf Club




You have had some state moves from Vic to NSW and now back to Victoria. Did you find some glaring differences in each states way of doing things? Give us a little timeline of where you have been.


The biggest glaring issue/difference between states is regulatory compliance, for something like hospitality that operates with similarities state by state to have simple things such as RSA, RCG & Licensee Training not transferable between states is complexing.

The other significant difference is the public’s understanding of the role clubs play in the community. Clubs in Victoria are still looked at within the same purpose/offer as the local pub, just another hospitality business, where’s within NSW clubs are the community, they are your local sporting team, bowls club, they are the place to go to be part of the community.  

After spending 10 years at the Ballarat Golf Club in 2018 I made the commitment to move to NSW with my family and take on a role with Mounties Group. Within the first few months of being with the group my role grew to General Manager Northern Sites for Mounties Group looking after both Manly Bowling Club and their new flagship venue Harbord Diggers.

I spent an amazing time with the Mounties team over 2 years learning a lot about club operations on a large scale from one of the amazing mentors Greg Pickering. Like a lot of things in life good things come to an end sometimes without your input and 2020 we moved to Victoria.

In April 2020 I was announced as CEO of Portarlington Golf Club, to replace long serving CEO Ron Stockdale. After doing some consulting work for a couple of Melbourne clubs during Covid I started in the role at the club’s AGM in October 2020

At your current club: what has been your biggest challenge and a success story?

The biggest challenge, like all Victoria Clubs has been working through the very complex nature of the Victorian Governments approach to the pandemic. Constant changes to the way we operated with little or no lead time for planning.

The ongoing challenge continues to be finding skilled staff, the expectations of a member for quality service and experience if anything has become more essential for the clubs ongoing success but to delivery this amazing experience requires, well staff.

Success – was being back open, seeing the club with people enjoying themselves but keeping 1.5m apart & vertically drinking of course. Being part of a club coming back to life.

In your career in the club Industry can you tell me some of your greatest achievements. Have you any ‘headline’s you could share?

I don’t think any achievement is mine alone but some of the great things I have been a part of over the years would include.

  • Establishing the Gender Equity Committee at Ballarat Golf Club - move towards creating a gender equal club for all members and guests.
  • Hosting the PGA National Futures for 4 years at Ballarat Golf Club
  • Hosting the first ALPG event at Ballarat with some of the best female golfer in the world attending including Dame Laura Davies
  • Being part of some amazing events at Harbord Diggers including Craft Beer Festival, Rose Festival and 2019 ANZAC Service and Social Event, with over 10,000 people coming through the club from the morning service to what could be said to be the biggest two-up in Australia.

    The 5-day lock down in February was a big reality check for us all and that this thing is not over. After what was an amazing January, people up and about, supporting regional Victoria in particular, the snap lockdown hurt. Financially we will get through, mentally it’s tough for everyone and we need to ensure we are supportive and understanding of the environment we are in at the moment.   

    What does Michaels personal life look like?. are you a golfer? what’s your hobbies etc.Victoria has had a tough time with the Covid Pandemic and the lock downs. How are you and the team going? do you feel a sense of “turning the corner and things are back to normal” or do you still feel confidence is low and the numbers are yet to be back to what they were.?

It’s amazing how a significant event (such as Covid-19) can change an outlook on life, for me now, its family, friends, a good meal and great glass of red.

Thanks, Michael, for sharing your thoughts. Wishing you, the team and your family the best of health, happiness and success