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Joon­dalup Golf & Coun­try Club, WA Oc­to­ber 2017 hand­i­cap: 17.9 Oc­to­ber 2018 hand­i­cap: 6.1

Teenager Paris Rive has been play­ing golf ‘se­ri­ously’ for nearly five years since she started fol­low­ing her Dad down to the driv­ing range to hit some balls. Her in­ter­est in the game stretches even fur­ther back to knock­ing a plas­tic ball around the back­yard with a plas­tic club.

“I’ve played other sports but golf has been the one I have stuck with for some time,” the Year 10 stu­dent said.

“I en­joy ev­ery­thing about the game. Golf is not the most calm­ing sport in the world but it calms me. I find that when I put in an eƒort with my golf it also helps me put more eƒort into other things like school­work. If I spend a few hours at the course prac­tic­ing, I then have to man­age my time to do my home­work and study.”

Rive’s only coach has been her dad, Mar­cel, who is a two-marker. She says he made sure she started out with good fun­da­men­tals – grip, stance and align­ment – but it is her in­creased hours of prac­tice dur­ing the past year that has seen her dra­mat­i­cally im­prove from an 18-hand­i­cap to ce­ment a place in A-grade.

“Dad taught me the proper tech­nique when I first started play­ing and I stuck with that,” said Rive, who was re­cently se­lected in a West Aus­tralian schools team. “But I used to come down to the course for two hours and I was done.

“But I have in­creased my prac­tice this year and the longer I stay to prac­tice the more I re­alise what I have to work on. There are a lot of ju­niors here so there’s al­ways some­one to prac­tice with which helps, and we all watch each other and learn from each other.

“My hand­i­cap has come down grad­u­ally over the year and prac­tic­ing all parts of the game, and be­com­ing more con­sis­tent, has been a big part of my im­prove­ment.” Her big­gest gains have come close to the green. “My chip­ping and putting is def­i­nitely bet­ter than it was,” Rive says. “I used to leave so many shots out on the course be­cause I couldn’t get up-and-down.

“I’ve found that im­prov­ing my short game has also helped my strat­egy on the course … I’m not so wor­ried when I miss a green any­more.”

Un­like most 16-year-old golfers – male or fe­male – she has never idolised the stars of the game and dreamt of one day em­u­lat­ing their feats. In fact, she strug­gles to even name some of the big­gest stars in the sport.

“I don’t fol­low pro­fes­sional golf. I don’t watch it on tele­vi­sion. It’s a bit weird,” she laughs. “I read a few books but I don’t know many of the pro­fes­sion­als I think be­cause I’m more fo­cused on what I’m do­ing.

“As much as I would love to look up to a pro­fes­sional be­cause what they do is ab­so­lutely amaz­ing, I have other role mod­els. Ev­ery­one is diƒer­ent and I think if I try to match some­one I might let my­self down by think­ing I can’t do it, so I just con­cen­trate on what I’m do­ing.”

That said, she is driven to achieve two ma­jor goals – to one day, soon, beat her Dad oƒ the stick and per­haps com­bine golf and the study of biotech­nol­ogy through a US col­lege schol­ar­ship.

“I hope I might get the op­por­tu­nity to go to a school where I can play golf, get proper coach­ing as well as get­ting a de­gree be­cause I en­joy school and I en­joy golf,” she said.

“To in­cor­po­rate both things would be so cool.”

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