LPGA Heavy Hitter Brooke Henderson Reveals The Pressure-Busters She Uses To Win
There are few players on the circuit who strike a ball better than Brooke Henderson. The 24-year-old Canadian has a renowned tight, connected golf swing with incredible flexibility – it’s a combination that leads to some of the most satisfying ball contact sounds on the LPGA.
She strikes with such compression on the golf ball that she’ll mix a thumpiness of wedges, with long irons that shatter through the air like the cracking of a whip.
It has led her to 10 LPGA titles, the first of which arrived at the age of just 18, at the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. In short, Brooke Henderson knows how to be a closer.
And while some may suppose a golfer is only as good as their last round, the grasping of honors so early in her career has clearly put the Ontario-born champ in a mindset where already, just eight years into her professional career, she doesn’t feel the pressure to perform.
RSNG How did winning a major – particularly at such a young age – impact your life?
BROOKE HENDERSON, LPGA CHAMP “The win was huge for my career. It took a lot of the pressure off me, almost straight away, because when you are coming through the ranks the question and the wait is always on when the first major will be won. The fact I got that out the way really early meant that question was never going to be asked again, and the pressure to repeat a win is very different to the pressure you feel when people are leaning on you, expecting to see a debut win.
“I think the fact I was 18, and going up against Lydia Ko, who was world number one at the time, and to see that I could perform under pressure like that; it was amazing, and I’ve carried that through.
“It’s fair to say I had never felt pressure like it; though I have never felt pressure like it again, even though I’ve been in the same position. So I know I’ve proved to myself I can handle it, and in myself I really don’t feel the need to get worked up and agitated by the challenges that come. I know I can handle them.”
RSNG Yet there must be something that still gets your heart beating on the course. After all, complacency is the enemy of progress, right?
BROOKE HENDERSON “That is very true, and the pressure I thrive on now is the one that means you don’t know what is coming next. That, really, is golf in a nutshell, isn’t it? It can be a game that is very good to you one day, and your worst enemy the next.
“In fairness, I don’t mind that, and I can handle it. At the heart of it, I am a problem solver, and I love the thrill of waking up each day, traveling to a course, and seeing what problems confront me. I am excited to see if I can find the answers to work them out before it’s too late… or I’ve used up too many shots!”
RSNG But how do you manage that situation?
BROOKE HENDERSON “I never feel like pressure is taking me out of my comfort zone, because I have a set routine for each round that I will stick to, and that routine synchronizes me back into a solid frame of mind, and processes I rely on and trust.
“So that goes right down to what I eat on the way round a course to keep energy high. I will eat bananas, apples and healthier granola bars on the way round – usually a bite after each hole. I may have a chocolate bar on the back nine on a long fairway, and I will definitely have a BioSteel drink when I make the turn. Hydration is a constant throughout, and after every three holes I will have a look at the leaderboard, but never more regularly than that.
“All of those things are pressure-busters for me, because they reconnect me with a process and a way of playing that has become second nature to me. As a golfer, as a person, you gain reassurance and calmness from repetition and security, and in the context of how I play, it means the various challenges that come about I can at least tackle on a platform of familiarity. I think that’s why I can keep so calm.”
RSNG How confident do you feel that you can push on and claim more titles, particularly with that added benefit of feeling that the pressure is off?
BROOKE HENDERSON “Well the pressure is off me, but also it’s off a lot of the other young golfers who have picked up tournament wins very early in their careers. So we are all together like that. As always, I will look for as many ways as possible to find an advantage. I am always looking.”
RSNG You do a lot of work with young golfers and always seem to be investing back into the sport, why is that?
BROOKE HENDERSON “I enjoy working closely with junior golfers and like to believe I will be in a position to be able to train one at some point. I think that's going to be pretty cool because if I can inspire, help and motivate the younger generation, then that is a huge thrill.
“When I was younger I was able to meet Morgan Pressel who was a huge role model for me. I got my picture taken with her and it was just a really meaningful thing – it taught me a lot and showed me a real-life example of someone who had committed such hard work to the game… and that if you do that good things can happen in the future.”