Brooke Henderson Turns Pro at 17, Eager to Start
Well, she did it – “She said that she would do it, and indeed, she did.” Brooke Henderson from Smith Falls, Ontario, turned pro at seventeen years of age. As she makes the jump, skipping the collegiate experience for now, I can’t help but feel a little tinge of Lydia Ko taking shape. She has lots of game at a young age, a great attitude, and despite being highly competitive, she doesn’t take herself so seriously that she folds at the first sign of defeat. And like Ko, she’s won professional tournaments as an amateur, and displays a high threshold for “freaking out.” For now, anyway, no signs of “Tigeritis,” no “anointed one” stuff. If she keeps her cool and just enjoys the ride while developing, she could have a blast, and win some serious money along the way.
In her first turn as a pro, albeit in a minor event, she played against her sister, Brittany, for the prize, and walked away with $2,200, while sis took home 1,200. Brooke has found her sister to be a great companion, and a second set of eyes on the course as caddie. She’s happy to return the favor when Brittany’s playing.
Brooke is ranked #201 in the world, but she’s not sweating it. She’s looking at a year of qualifying for LPGA events, and Q School down the road, but she isn’t sweating that, either. All she needs to do is learn the tour ropes, play, play, play, and hold on to her sense of fun, which doesn’t seem to be much of a problem right now. Already, she’s qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in Pennsylvania this July.
But what about that college thing? It’s true that college isn’t for everybody, but that phrase often refers to those whose ability to make the grade is questionable. No one questions that in Brooke Henderson. For her own reasons, getting on the pro tour right now is the dream. It’s her turn, and she’s taking her turn.
What she’ll miss is the college at eighteen experience, which is never the same at any other age. It’s a dreamy time of life even if you don’t realize it at the time, and coming out into the world is a real shock. Brooke, however, seems to like the outside world just fine, and with a quality game that came together so successfully at such a young age, it’s probably a good decision.
Brooke did pretty well in her first LPGA appearance at the Silk Bahamas. She tied for 33rd, and took home around $8,000 or so. That’s a good dream right now – a few thousand here, a few thousand there, until the day comes when she makes a major statement. In terms of endorsements, the IMG, RBC and PING seem to think they’ve really got something special in her, and I believe they are correct.
In competitive professions that involve a blend of mental and physical finesse, there’s always a turning point where a successful newcomer suddenly stops asking questions and starts making statements. We can easily remember it with Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, and many others. Perhaps I’m wrong, but like Lydia, Brooke might be the type of person who get down to statement-making early – another one of my hunches, but they haven’t been too bad the last couple of years.
So, no homecoming dance or sorority life for you, Brooke. No football games or late night library panics – no professors asking you whether you’re going to study or play golf. That’s good, because they wouldn’t like the answer. Hitting the pros is hard out of high school, but you’re just the golfer to do it.