Golf's a lonely road for talented teen
Meet Camryn Perry. She’s a 13-year-old who just entered Grade 8 at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, adjusting to life at a big, new school of 1,900 students.
She’s a straight A student, with blue eyes and a warm smile.
But unlike most girls her age, she really loves playing golf.
She was just 10 when she took up the sport a couple of years ago, and it turns out she’s really good.
Her dad signed her up for a golf camp during spring break, and “at the end of class when he came to get me, I was the only person there, still hitting my golf balls at the driving range,” Camryn recalls.
It was obvious she had a natural ability. She kept taking golf classes, and she progressed, growing ever more passionate about the sport of golf.
“I just thought that, because I’m really good and stuff, that this is what I’m meant to do. I’m not really good at other sports,” she says.
She’s tried volley ball, played soccer, learned horseback riding. She didn’t like soccer.
“I’ve pretty much tried every sport. This is the one sport that I really like.”
In the last year, she’s progressed considerably, taking one-on-one lessons from a pro at Golf Town in White Rock, using a golf simulator. She also plays at Hazelmere Golf Club, where she’s enrolled in the junior program. There’s a whole bunch of other kids, but most of them are boys.
She’s ready to get serious. Already, Camryn’s got her sights set on earning a golf scholarship to send her to university – she wants to become a nurse, and would love to play varsity golf.
She’d be even better by now, but there’s just one hitch. Although there are junior programs at the local golf clubs the sport seems to lack the organization and structure team youth sports have.
Camryn and her parents are increasingly concerned that she’s losing valuable training time she’ll never be able to make up, putting her dream of excelling at golf out of reach.
“As a parent, I find this very challenging,” says her dad, John Perry. “For every other form of organized sport, there’s organized teams, and organized practices and organized competitions. Golf, it’s every man for himself – or woman. It’s very, very frustrating.”
He admits there are groups out there, but it’s difficult to “crack the code” so you can find out where competitions are taking place. “So often, you find out three weeks later,” he says.
The family was thrilled to learn there is a junior and senior golf team at Lord Tweedsmuir, but it doesn’t start until March.
“You’ve got to practice. It’s a mental game as much as anything else,” says John.
He says people need to start thinking of golf as a team sport, not an individual pursuit.
The Perrys want to talk with other parents of teen golfers to compare notes and possibly organize practices and games.
(Email the Perrys at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Meanwhile, Camryn’s enthusiasm remains undiminished.
This summer, she got to meet Inbee Park during the Walk with a Pro day at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open in Coquitlam.
She has a signed golf ball as a treasured souvenir.
Camryn’s favourite player, Paula Creamer, started golfing at the same age as she – 10, boosting her dreams of where the sport might lead her.
And when she’s asked what she needs to do to fulfill her dreams of earning a scholarship, she says: “I don’t know. I need to be much better than I am right now. I’ve gotta keep practicing!”