The golf world seemingly feels like it’s a world that’s full of uncertainty, divisiveness, and upheaval like we’ve never seen before. With everything going on in men’s professional golf right now, currently, it’s a time where women’s golf – more specifically the LPGA and Ladies European Tour – is like a proverbial “safe space”. It’s a ripple in time where a good story is much-needed. Golf is a sport that’s never short on “feel good” stories. Look no further than the individuals that recently took part in the U.S. Adaptive Open or the focus of this article, Brooke Mackenzie Henderson.
Brooke Henderson, a native of Smith’s Falls, Ontario earlier this season won the LPGA Shoprite Classic in Galloway, New Jersey. At that time, she had notched her 11th career victory on the LPGA. Having already surpassed George Knudson for most career victories on either the LPGA or PGA TOUR, Henderson tied vaulted ahead of the likes of Canadian golf greats Sandra Post and Mike Weir in 2019 after winning the 2019 Meijer LPGA Classic. Ever since, Canadian golf record books have had to be re-written. The affable Canadian found herself atop the Canadian golf mountain.
Brooke’s rise to reach Canada’s golf pinnacle began in 2012 when as a part of Golf Canada’s developmental program (“Team Canada”), Henderson started to gain notoriety in the junior ranks . Brooke first started her ascent after capturing the Canadian Women’s Amateur. A year later, Brooke would finish as the runner-up in the U.S. Women’s Amateur where she bowed out to out to the medallist Kristen Gillman of the United States. Brooke would go on to claim several amateur tournaments, while also winning 3 times on the now defunct CN Canadian Women’s Tour. Brooke would go on to finish in a tie for tenth place in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Getting lost in all of these mounting accolades, Brooke silently became the top-ranked women’s amateur golfer in the world.
Unlike her sibling Brittany (her elder by 7 years) who was also a top-ranked junior and college golfer, Brooke made the decision to forego college and join the professional golf ranks. In 2015, then as a 17 year-old, Brooke ground her way through Monday Qualifiers. She would earn her Symetra Tour card (now Epson Tour) with a win at the Four Winds Invitational in Indiana. Then after Monday Qualifying for the Cambia Portland Classic, Brooke would go on to dust the field by 12-strokes for the win and she gained her LPGA Tour card immediately. She hasn’t looked back since. In 2016, Henderson captured her first Major Championship defeating the top-ranked Lydia Ko in a playoff during the KPMG LPGA Women’s Championship.
All of the above brings us to the 2022 Amundi Evian Championship. In what is the LPGA’s fourth major championship to be contested this season, Henderson got off to a quick start posting back-to-back 64’s (-7). By the time the third round was over, Henderson held onto a 2-stroke lead, setting up an exciting final round. The final round was a wild ride and a round where Henderson, to her own admission, didn’t have her best day. After surviving a double-bogey on the 6th hole, Henderson gathered herself and re-grouped in large part thanks to sister and caddie, Brittany. Henderson’s much-maligned putting stroke became the focal point and the one part of her game that has struggled, suddenly became clutch. Huge birdies on 14, 15, and 18 propelled Brooke to the win. Her second career major victory (2016 KPMG LPGA Championship).
The terms “gritty” or “gutsy” are words that are overused to describe an achievement or a win. Brooke’s win on Sunday was every bit as “gritty” as a win can be. The double-bogey on the 6th could have caused this tournament to go in a different direction altogether, but credit to Brooke and her integral teammate Brittany for shaking off what could have been a serious turning point in the championship.
Over her career Brooke has become notorious for being one of those golfers on the LPGA Tour that just quietly goes about her business. During any LPGA Tour event you could be casually watching and there’s no sign of her anywhere on the leaderboard. Then all of the sudden it’s late in the afternoon on Saturday and like a mirage, she appears suddenly in contention. Perhaps with a stealthy grace. Never does she ever get too high or too low. There’s a certain calmness to her game. A stability. Much of that, no doubt, is a by-product of her sister (and caddie), the previously aforementioned Brittany.
Every time that I watch the Henderson’s on the golf course, I know that I’m watching
Canadian golf greatness. Brooke Henderson will with no doubt in my mind, be the best Canadian golfer of all-time during my living years or posthumously. With every victory that Brooke claims on the LPGA, it seems like it’s another enormous obstacle standing in the way of any other Canadian golfer current or in the future. An insurmountable mountain.
Brooke Henderson is so much more than a terrific golfer and the best Canadian of this generation, regardless of gender specification. Brooke is a philanthropist donating to causes like the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Perth and Smiths Falls Hospitals, the SuperWalk Parkinson’s campaign, and the Wildlife Fund of Canada. When looking at the definition of “ambassador’s of the game”, Brooke is exactly the type of person that you’d seek. Well-spoken, outgoing, and never too shy to turn down a fan for a selfie or autograph
In my eyes, Brooke Henderson IS a global golf ambassador. This, in a nutshell, is the magnificence of Brooke Henderson and she is the kind of story that golf needs.
Until The Next Tee!!