If you are anything like me (perish the thought), you didn’t really have a clue what you were doing when you were 19.
Well, fortunately for golf fans all over, LPGA star and proud Canadian Brooke Henderson (ranked No. 8 in the world) is nothing like that.
At 19, Henderson has already accomplished a great deal – a world No. 1 amateur ranking, three Tour wins (including a major at the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship), a spot on the Canadian Olympic team at the Rio Games last year and nearly $2 million in career earnings.
No doubt, Henderson is included in the conversation when discussing the incredible group of young stars on the LPGA Tour, joining the likes of world No. 1 Lydia Ko (19), No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (21), No. 3 In Gee Chun (21), and No. 5 Lexi Thompson (21).
With a slew of endorsement deals in hand – BMW Canada, Ping, Sunice Sports and Skechers Performance to name a few – and a game that places her near the top of the list, the future certainly looks bright for Henderson.
I was fortunate to catch up with her as she wrapped up the Diamond Resorts Invitational last weekend in Orlando. She is scheduled to tee it up in a couple weeks at the LPGA's season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.
John Lahtinen: How was your offseason?
Brooke Henderson: My offseason was really nice. I spent a few weeks back home in Smiths Falls, Ottawa (Ontario). I was able to get to our cottage and relax a bit, catch up with friends and family over Christmas break, and even catch a few Senators games. They showed me on the jumbotron at one of them and everyone gave me a standing ovation, which was pretty cool! I’ve been practicing pretty hard since my family came back to Florida after the holidays, and I’ve been able to play in a few LPGA charity events for Sandra Gal, Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome. It’s been busy but fun!
JL: With some time and experience under your belt now, what has surprised you most about competing on the LPGA Tour?
BH: I wouldn’t say it’s surprised me, but the biggest adjustment I’ve needed to make has been managing my time – my practice schedule, sponsor commitments, media engagements and personal time. Still a work in process but it’s been a great learning process.
JL: What are your goals and expectations for this season?
BH: I’ve got some individual goals that drive me, but my expectation for 2017 is to continue to improve and contend to win championships and majors.
JL: Talk about the importance family plays in your life.
BH: My family means everything to me; it’s so great to have their support day in and day out. My sister Brittany is not only my caddie, but she’s my best friend. My dad is also my coach, and my mom is our biggest cheerleader. It’s been great to travel the world with them.
JL: When did you first realize you wanted to play golf as a career?
BH: My earliest golf memories were watching my sister play golf and practicing right alongside of her – sometimes outside the ropes during tournaments, practicing with a stick or whatever else I could find. I knew I wanted to play golf since I first took it up!
JL: Talk about your Olympics experience and what you learned about yourself. How did you think it helped you grow as a player?
BH: Rio was absolutely incredible. I was so honored to represent Canada and while I finished just outside the podium, it was a tremendous experience and I can’t wait until Tokyo in 2020!
JL: Who are your role models in the game? Do you see yourself as a role model?
BH: There are so many players in the LPGA who I grew up watching, but Morgan Pressel is actually someone who I have always looked up to and it’s been fun to compete against her out on Tour. As far as being a role model, I just try to act as my parents raised me.
JL: Who is filling out your dream foursome and where are you teeing it up?
BH: I’ve been lucky to play golf with a lot of people, but my favorite foursome is honestly just being out there with my family – I’ll play with dad and Brittany, and mom will usually drive the cart.