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Sep 04

Brooke Henderson, Canadian

Brooke Henderson, Canada Shine at World Championships

Henderson Fans Criticized for Recent Impatience

Brooke Henderson, from Smith Falls, Ontario is headlining the Canadian world team in its second day of leading the pack on the Oshitate Course of Karuizawa in Japan. The event is the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship, and in addition to Henderson’s two scores of 66 and 69, leading isn’t nearly as difficult as it could be. The rest of the Canadian team is also  living in the 60s. In fact, you’ve got to know something is going well for your team when the discarded high score (71 of Brittany Marchand) is still under.

brook 1 Henderson’s success at this world event inspired me to look back on her recent trajectory through various articles and events, mostly from the past two years. The first one that caught my eye came from the practice round for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open, described in the headline as an “Amazing Experience.” for the then fifteen-year-old. The general consensus of the family was that if Henderson made the cut, it would be considered a victory – and she did just that.
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Another article of August, 2014 featured a description of Henderson “losing” her bid to join the LPGA Tour by dropping a finals match in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Following what was probably a disappointment on her part, a stream of rather unusual and unexpected blogs began to appear, not sharing her disappointment, but rather directing an overly critical and impatient look at her week, despite the fact that she was playing under par in the loss. A host of other bloggers rushed to her aid, and a conversation ensued as to the definition of “winning” and “losing.” Cited, among other examples, was a long list of silver medalists in the Olympics from various countries, and whether those poor souls were “losers.” Oh, please.
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A fan base, a group of media writers, or anyone who gets together to comment and/or profit from a player’s talent, without having to go in and play the game themselves, risk a perilous touch of mob mentality when they slip into the wrong attitude. With Henderson having taken low amateur honors at the U.S. Women’s Open, runner-up in the U.S. Amateur, and a win in an LPGA Canadian event at the age of fourteen, I’m still scratching my head, trying to figure out what it is that these observers believe has gone wrong. Sorry, but I can’t find anything at all that’s amiss with Brooke Henderson.

Well, this is real life, some say. She’ll just have to get used to it – baloney. Just because life is such a way, doesn’t mean it has to be. There is a “tough love” crowd that rides an 18 major winner for not winning 25 of them. Birdie six holes on the front nine, and they grouse that you didn’t repeat it on the second nine. It’s a type –  they lack patience and require constant feeding, whether they’re following Arnold Palmer or a sixteen-year-old phenom who’s just getting into the game long-term.

We’ve seen this “white collar” mob mentality at work in the early years of Michelle Wie, and many of us who were publicly observing her life at the time were accomplices, whether we understood it or not. The bottom line is –  this is not the time for Brooke Henderson or anyone else to go out and win everything in sight for our sake. Besides, the dirty little secret is that none of them are doing this for us, anyway – we have been extended the privilege of watching.

What Brooke Henderson is doing, at her age, and in the way she’s doing it, should be surrounded with nothing but celebration, and I was glad to see so many jump all over the unwarranted and sour tones. Come to think of it, there’s cause for national celebration as well, considering how Augusta James and Brittany Marchand are playing – no dead weight on the Canadian team through two rounds. As for Brooke, it’s all going beautifully…so lighten up.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.