Mark Parry attributes the result to a confluence of varying factors but he is seeing undeniable proof that more and more young girls are becoming attracted to the game of golf.
Working with up to 220 kids across three locations in Perth – Rockingham Golf Club, Lake Karrinyup Country Club and Collier Park Golf Course – Parry has seen a dramatic increase in girls joining his junior clinics.
Whether inspired by the deeds of fellow West Australians Minjee Lee and Hannah Green on the LPGA Tour, the greater exposure provided to women’s sport in general or the opportunities offered by the Australian Golf Foundation Junior Girls Scholarship program, girls are coming to golf in their droves.
“Looking through my whole academy over the three locations, it’s probably looking at a quarter of my students are now girls where before it would have been maybe 10 per cent,” Parry explains.
“Through the education system, girls are being encouraged and have the opportunities now to play all these sports, including golf.
“Golf WA, Golf Australia and the PGA are embracing this with the girls’ scholarship and the girls are embracing that as well.
“They feel more comfortable to get involved in these programs and try these games and realise it’s not just for the boys. It’s great.”
Originally from England and having spent time in China before arriving in Perth five years ago, Parry’s focus has been in the junior space for much of his career as a PGA Professional.
The brother of DP World Tour winner John Parry, Mark has recognised the ways in which girls learn the game and the environments in which they feel most comfortable.
“I really enjoy teaching the girls because they’re a bit more mature and they can focus on the smaller details,” Parry says.
“With the boys it’s a lot more game-based and higher speed drills – hitting shots and aiming for targets – but the girls take in a lot more information.
“They can focus a little bit better sometimes than the boys and have that mindset where they want to learn the techniques and learn how to do it.
“We actually had a girl turn up last week for her first lesson and when she saw the girls’ clinic straight after she said, ‘I want to move to that class.’
“Having them together relaxes them for sure and becomes more sociable for them. They can just get on and do their thing without the boys taking over.”
Parry’s approach has proven particularly effective at Rockingham, where he estimates the number of junior girls engaged at the club has doubled in the past 12 months.
The Junior Girls Scholarship program has been integral to that and provided a direct pathway to club membership.
“We’ve got six girls into that, obviously all becoming members of the golf club,” Parry says.
“Two of them have got their handicap so far and we’re only halfway through the program. The goal is to try and get all six with handicaps and then progressing and moving forward.
“From that we’ve also had another couple of girls join up into our academy looking to join the golf club too so, as far as Rockingham goes, that’s been huge.”
Heavily involved in also taking golf into schools – he introduced about 1,000 kids to golf in visits to 12 different schools around Perth last year – Parry says his passion for coaching juniors stems from the opportunity to introduce new people to the game.
“I guess a lot of pros want to get in with the better players and enjoy coaching single-figure handicappers but I’ve always really enjoyed growing the game,” Parry adds.
“It’s always been about getting out there and getting as many people involved as possible. For me, it’s just a lot more fun. It’s a lot more flexible. It’s not always just about being technical. There’s lots of different ways to engage with kids, doing different activities and games, rather than simply, ‘You’ve got to swing it this way.’
“It’s always been my passion.”
• PGA Professionals are the best people to guide your son or daughter in their formative stages of playing golf. To find the PGA Pro closest to you, visit pga.org.au/find-a-pga-pro