Standing on the first tee next to some of the best male Amateurs in the country may seem like a daunting task for a young female, but it didn’t faze Kathryn Norris, in fact, she thrived.
The three-time WA state representative may not have claimed a home title at Mandurah Country Club over the weekend, but the 17-year-old certainly left the tournament a winner in more ways than one.
Norris became the first female to ever compete in the Mandurah Amateur Open, an all-male national ranking event that has existed for 28 years.
She excelled against her male counterparts to comfortably make the cut, and better yet, enjoy the journey along the way.
“It was a great experience,” Norris claimed.
“I think playing with men and off the back tees certainly brings out your best golf, purely because you’re focusing on playing the course.”
“I knew I had to play really well to make a good score. I hit some good shots and managed to do that which was great.”
The four-time 54-hole Junior Classic Champion was handed a tournament invite by major sponsor Steelscene, and had to prepare slightly differently to the norm given the different set of circumstances she faced.
“I worked on my driver quite a bit leading up, particularly hitting the ball lower and with a draw to maximise distance,” she said.
“Everything sets up pretty easily for a driver at Mandurah; I didn’t take anything other than a driver off the tees (except the par 3s).”
“Everything felt really good, I relied on a number of long putts to save par and luckily a few went in.”
Garner (right) & Norris
Norris drew on plenty of experience from playing previously with men, citing her early years at the golf club and rounds with her dad as helpful factors during the tournament.
“Growing up playing golf I did spend a lot of time playing with the boys being the only girl member at the club,” Norris remembered.
“I have previously played a lot with dad and his friends – I am pretty comfortable playing with guys.”
“It does take a lot of mental strength to just stand up on the tee with a guy that hits it 50 metres longer than you. I felt like I handled it pretty well.”
The tournament featured several big names from around Australia with the likes of Victorian pairing Blake Collyer and Kyle Michel teeing up at the course south-west of Perth.
Despite being well outnumbered, Norris praised the efforts of all the competitors, making her feel incredibly comfortable for all four of her rounds.
“I got to play with Jose’ (De Sousa) which was great because I’ve played a lot of junior stuff with him,” she said.
“I played with Jordy Garner on Monday and he was awesome. He just chatted away and made me feel really good.”
“Everyone was so great, even though it’s difficult having a girl playing in their event; they made me feel really welcome.”
Norris couldn’t speak highly enough of the experience, and has urged other women to take up the opportunity if it presents itself in the future.
“I definitely think it’s a worthwhile experience if you get the opportunity,” she mentioned.
“This week I got an invite, but if you can qualify for these types of events definitely take it up.”
“Don’t turn it down if you have the strength for it.”
“It’s a really rewarding opportunity.”