CLEVELAND, Ohio: Brooke Henderson does not play hockey, but Canadian sports fans know her name. American golf fans are well aware of her, too.
Henderson, a native of Smiths Falls, Ontario, is authoring quite a golf career — and it is just getting started. She won the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open 2017 this week, her fifth LPGA Tour title. She eclipsed $3 million in official earnings.
Henderson turned 20 on Sept. 10.
Henderson, always on the move, recently visited with DMan’s World via email Q-and-A.
DMan’s World: Did you always want to be a golfer?
Brooke Henderson: I started playing when I was about 3 years old and always loved the game. I was introduced to the game by my father and motivated to be a great player by my sister. My sister Brittany is a very talented golfer in her own right and played professionally on the Symetra Tour, and I grew up following her lead. I am lucky to be able to play the game I love for a living every week out here on the LPGA Tour.
DW: Fondest memory of golf as a kid?
BH: My fondest golfing memory growing up was the time spent with my family. When I was little, I actually thought the goal of the game was to get the ball in the hole as fast as possible, rather than in as few strokes — so I would be sprinting around the golf course trying to smack it in the hole while my dad and sister just laughed at me!
DW: Favorite course(s) you’ve played?
BH: For whatever reason, the golf courses in the Pacific Northwest really have suited my game — tight, tree-lined fairways, pine trees, etc. I won my first major last year at Sahalee Country Club in Seattle; it always will be one of my favorite courses.
DW: What is one course you really want to play but haven’t?
BH: Augusta National and Pebble Beach Golf Links are on everyone’s bucket list, right?
DW: What is one public course in Canada that Americans should know more about because it is so good?
BH: I am from a really small town outside of Ottawa called Smiths Falls, and I grew up pounding balls on the range at Smiths Falls Golf Club. It might not win any awards, but it will always have a special place in my heart :)
DW: Best and toughest part about being coached by your dad?
BH: The best part about being coached by my dad is that he knows me and my game better than anyone else in the world. He helps me put together a game plan every week and knows when and how to motivate me. Toughest part is that Dad is always right (even when he’s not)!!
DW: When you turned pro, what were your goals?
BH: I turned pro at the end of 2014 and didn’t have a tour to play on, so my goal was just to try and earn some type of membership in 2015. Luckily, I was able to win a Symetra event, earn invitations to LPGA events, and try to Monday-qualify at others. It worked out pretty well, as I ended up winning Cambia Portland Classic 2015 on the LPGA Tour by eight strokes after Monday-qualifying that week. I took up my LPGA membership right away, which was fun to do at just 17.
DW: Who was your favorite athlete, and what was your favorite team, growing up?
BH: My favorite team is the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Where an athlete is concerned, I would say that most Canadians put Wayne Gretzky at the top.
DW: Favorite things to do away from course?
BH: My family has a small cottage in the country and I love nothing more than hanging out there during our off weeks. It is so relaxing.
DW: Favorite club in bag?
BH: Driver, for sure.
DW: Were you in awe of any LPGA player when you turned pro? If so, how did the first meeting go?
BH: I wouldn’t say that I was in awe of any of them, but it was pretty wild to grow up watching some of the star players out there and then competing against them. Morgan Pressel always was one of my favorite players since I was young, and we were in the final group together at one of my first LPGA events. It was awesome, and she is such a great ambassador for the LPGA. I’ve learned a lot from her.
DW: If you could sit and talk golf with 3-4 players — man or woman, past or present — who would they be?
BH: Hmmm. that’s a tough one. I’ve been lucky to meet many of the LPGA founders, but I guess I would put a few of the legends out there like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Babe Zaharias.
DW: Greatest round of you’ve ever played, any level? The one where you said: “I could not have played any better.’’
BH: I think I shot a 61 in my last tournament as an amateur at the Junior World Championships in Japan to win in the final round. That was a great way to go out!
DW: You are listed in a lot of places as Brooke M. Henderson. Your middle name is Mackenzie. Do you want the M in there if possible?
BH: Growing up, there were many tournaments that Brittany and I would compete in together, so the Brooke M. Henderson was helpful for leaderboards and the BM Henderson separated us for the walking scorers. I’m proud of the M!
DW: You don’t seem intimidated by anything or anyone on the course. Where does that come from?
BH: I play the game pretty aggressively, and that is typically part of my game plan from week to week. At the end of the day, we are competing against the golf course and not necessarily the field, so that is how I treat it.
DW: Wildest thing you’ve witnessed on a golf course?
BH: Lots of wild animals at our golf courses in Canada. Watch out for bears :)
DW: Average number of golf-course hours per week?
BH: Between practice and competitive hours, probably 60.
DW: What are some must-have’s in your competition golf bag (other than clubs and balls)?
BH: I am not superstitious at all, so you won’t find any lucky trinkets in there. But I always have a sports drink called BioSteel, which I love. It keeps me going through my rounds.
DW: Advice to a youngster who wants to be Brooke Henderson?
BH: My advice to any amateurs, and particularly young golfers, is to remember that golf is just a game and to have fun. And even though I am a professional, there ALWAYS will be a part of my game that can improve — that is the beauty of golf.