by Dave Andrews
Canada’s Sister Act Is Shining
I first met Brittany and Brooke Henderson in January of 2014 at the SALLY Women’s Amateur Golf Championship in Ormond Beach, Florida. 16-year-old Brooke was playing in the tournament. Brittany, six years older than Brooke, was caddying for her sister. Brooke went on to win the prestigious event that week, joining the ranks of players like Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, and Jessica Korda who also claimed SALLY titles as teenage amateur players.
The SALLY victory helped to propel Brooke to the top of the international rankings of women’s amateur golfers by the end of 2014. Brittany was playing her final year on the women’s golf team at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.
Brooke qualified to play in the 2014 U S Women’s Open at Pinehurst, North Carolina. She had a spectacular event for a 16 year old amateur, finishing tied for 10th place in a field that included most of the top rated women golfers in the world.
2014 was a pivotal year for the two Canadian sisters from Smiths Falls, Ontario. After graduating college Brittany turned pro and went through the LPGA Q School process. She made it to the final stage where Brooke caddied for her. Although she failed to earn any LPGA status she did earn full status on the Symetra Tour for the 2015 season.
In December of 2014 Brooke made the important decision to turn professional. She had planned to play golf at the University of Florida beginning in the fall of 2015 but determined that she was ready, even at such a young age, to live out her dream of competing against the best golfers in the world on the LPGA. She signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Ping Golf and is now represented by the IMG agency, one of the top athlete management companies in the world. Without any status on either the LPGA or the Symetra Tour, Brooke would have to rely on sponsor invitations and Monday qualifying to play in events on both tours.
In March of 2015 Brooke and Brittany found themselves competing together as professionals in the Symetra Tour’s third event of the season; the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in Lake Wales, Florida. Defying the odds, they finished the event with the exact same score, each tying for second place, just three shots behind the winner of the event. Coincidentally the winner of the event was Sue Kim, another young Canadian professional who has limited playing status on the LPGA for the 2015 season.
I had watched Brittany and Brooke play in several events over the last two years and became a casual acquaintance of the two great young players. I also caddie for fun for many players on the women’s tours. In April Brittany asked me if I could caddie for her at the Symetra Tour’s event in Sarasota, Florida. I jumped at the opportunity.
That same week, Brooke had received a sponsor’s invitation to play in the LPGA’s Swinging Skirts event in San Francisco. She captured worldwide headlines for much of the event, taking the lead into the final round. She ultimately fell one shot short on the final day just missing a putt on the final green to make it into a playoff with Lydia Ko and Morgan Pressel. Ko, who just turned 18 the week of the event beat Pressel in the playoff and captured her 7th LPGA victory.
Brittany and her mother Darlene, who joined her in Sarasota for the Symetra Tour event, were keeping a close eye on the scores from San Francisco just as Brittany was trying to win an event of her own. She played very well and had a strong T18 finish, helping on her way to securing an LPGA card for 2016. It was a pleasure to caddie for her and to see up close and personal how good a player she is.
There is a very good chance that both Henderson sisters will be fulfilling their shared dream and playing fulltime on the LPGA in 2016. They are both wonderful young women and have already attracted many fans and supporters, especially from Canada. Golf fans around the world will be hearing a lot more from the two sisters from Smith’s Falls, Ontario in the years to come.
Dave Andrews is a retired television news reporter. He is also an avid golfer who has become a big fan of the LPGA and the Symetra Tour.
He is the author of Pops and Sunshine, a novel and screenplay about a young woman pro’s dream and struggle to make it to the LPGA.
The screenplay has been optioned by a production company in Hollywood. The novel is available at Kindle Ebooks.
Follow Dave online on Twitter @PopsandSunshine
Also by Dave Andrews
Inside the ropes at the unique Patty Berg Memorial where LPGA Legends play alongside the future stars of the Symetra and LPGA Tours.
The rich history of the South Atlantic Women’s Amateur Golf Championship (The SALLY) where winners seem to automatically become multiple LPGA and Major Championship winners.
Photo of Brooke Henderson with the SALLY trophy is courtesy of Pam Shaffer. All other photos by Dave Andrews.