As Brooke Henderson looks ahead to a busy summer stretch, she got some well-needed rest while being the guest of honor at a junior golf clinic near Ottawa on Tuesday.
Henderson and her sister Brittany made their fourth appearance at the Kevin Haime Kids to the Course Classic at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin, Ontario, about 35 minutes from Ottawa’s downtown, as more than 50 excited junior golfers looked on.
The event raises funds to provide junior golf memberships to youngsters in the Ottawa area who can’t otherwise afford them and has been going on for 12 years. This year’s event raised more than $70,000.
Haime runs a driving range in Ottawa’s west end – about an hour from Henderson’s hometown of Smiths Falls, Ontario – and he says he puts about 350 kids each year through summer golf camps. It used to be all boys, he says, but in the last five years or so that number has increased to 20 per cent girls.
“It’s been incredible growth,” he said of Henderson’s impact, “and it’s only going to get better.”
Henderson was home in Smiths Falls this past week before spending a few days at her family’s cottage. The 21-year-old is staring down a very busy stretch of golf on the LPGA Tour’s summer schedule that includes six tournaments in a row before she takes a week off to return to Canada again for an event around the CP Women’s Open, where she is the defending champion, and then playing four more weeks in a row.
The balance of 2019 comes after Henderson had to sit out two events earlier this season due to illness. Henderson has also missed two cuts this year, which, she said Tuesday, was “unlike” her.
Overall she said she was “really happy” with her 2019 to this point. She defended her title at the LOTTE Championship in April, her eighth LPGA Tour title. In the process she tied the all-time win mark for Canadians (male or female). She said she hasn’t been thinking too much into the future, although her next win would cement her as Canada’s winningest professional golfer of all time.
“I would love to keep my record of two wins a year since 2016,” she said when asked about trying to break the all-time mark. “That’s been really cool and I think if I can get another win this year then one, it would beat the record, which would be amazing, but two, it would make me happy to keep that streak alive of winning twice a year. I’m just excited at the opportunity to be out there and competing and have the opportunity to win.”
Henderson said she’s looking forward to next week at the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg – a golf course that really suits her eye – before teeing it up at the U.S. Women’s Open in Charleston, South Carolina.
She played the Country Club of Charleston in 2013 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur – and Brittany went to college at the nearby Coastal Carolina University – so she feels there will be some good vibes there. She withdrew from last year’s U.S. Women’s Open after the death of her grandfather.
“I’d love to win (all the majors), but the U.S. Women’s Open… that’s a big one,” she said.
Looking around the numerous youngsters at the clinic – as Henderson answered questions about her time on the road and what it’s like to travel the world with her sister Brittany – she was asked about what kept her going with golf as a youngster herself.
The family aspect, she said, was important. And has Henderson was the face of the LPGA’s new “Drive On” campaign, she couldn’t help but feel grateful to be part of such strong initiatives.
“Golf was fun because I had my sister who was playing, and we really started playing the game at the same time. I got to hang out with her every day and that’s what made it fun,” she explained. “Our Dad was our coach but he was out there being ‘Dad’ too… just playing and hitting some shots and really making sure we enjoy the game. I wasn’t that great off the bat, I don’t think anyone is… but you fall in love with the game and you put the work in and great things can happen.”