Brooke Henderson Just Goes And Goes
Ah, youth. I can remember it well, except its sensations of instant physical ability, limitless possibilities, and a gas tank that never seemed to run dry, in the body, mind, or heart. If I had a match at the course where I spent much of my youth, the excitement, apprehension, jubilation, nausea, or what you will, was almost overwhelming. I was so overcharged by these events that I usually asked someone to drop off my clubs, because I was going to run the four miles, just to get rid of the energy surplus. How things have changed, so much that I laugh at those memories when presented with a walk of any significant size. There’s a point to all of this as I watch Brooke Henderson retaking her lead in the third round of the Classic in Portland this morning.
There’s so much more energy spent as a pro golfer than the actual playing. The preparation, the logistics of traveling between cities and countries. By all appearances, Brooke is handling it all very well. Her game is on fire most of the time, she’s already won a few times in her brief period on tour, and she seems ever-present. I am fond of breaking up a great golfer’s career into categories such as learning the ropes, learning how to survive the field, how to become a presence, how to live in the top section of the leaderboard, how to break through, and how to stay there, etc. It doesn’t mean winning every week. It’s living in a niche in the pecking order that you, by dint of your inner belief, work, and effort, manage to occupy. In my mind, Brooke Henderson and Lydia Ko share a freakishly rare understanding and management of these phases. They both ran through them like lightning.
My next question – does that hurt a great player’s staying power, or is energy ever-replenishing? Henderson has played quite a number of consecutive events, and it’s hard to tell where she is on the exhaustion meter. On one hand, she’s the type of young that can just go and go until she hits a wall. For many young people, that’s the only thing that can convince an individual to stop, rest, take a break. However, everyone’s capacity for letting stress slide off the back is different. She might be exceptional in this way. It is difficult to convince a young person of something they have not experienced, even vicariously. Sometimes, only a consequence gets it in there. But, the Canadian star is probably surrounded with some trustworthy folks who monitor her well-being on a regular basis, and she seems smart and level-headed on her own. I am anything but young, and if my game were so freakishly wonderful, I wouldn’t take a week off, either. Young people aren’t making all of the bad decisions – not by a long shot. We never outgrow the potential for that.
Brooke, her family, her country, and the game itself have a major deal going in this young golfer. As I watch her go from appearance to appearance, I don’t feel any under-the-skin concern that I have felt in the past for some others. Her strength is now, her game is on, life is at its fullest at the age where it should be, and she’s not fussing around with a lot of doubt or fear, none that we’re seeing, anyway. She’s attacking the present with all her abundant resources, and it’s true – there’s no time like the present.
At the heart of it, a game of golf is good for you, even four days in a row of it. If Brooke needs to take a rest, she and others will recognize it long before the rest of us do, and all will be well. In the meantime, here’s hoping that as she continues to love competing, she will also continue to love life, and that the rudest aspects of it will be held at bay, far away from her winning ways.