Brooke and Brit­tany Hen­der­son

Ottawa Magazine - - THIS CITY -

For as long as they can re­mem­ber, Brooke and Brit­tany Hen­der­son have been each other’s big­gest fans. Grow­ing up in Smiths Falls, the sis­ters shared a pas­sion for golf and dreamed of play­ing on the LPGA Tour. When Brooke turned pro in 2014 at the age of 17, Brit­tany, then 23, put her own golf as­pi­ra­tions on hold to work as Brooke’s cad­die. Since then, the two have been trav­el­ling the world to­gether and, in the process, have formed a unique part­ner­ship while cre­at­ing un­for­get­table mem­o­ries as Brooke de­vel­ops into one of Canada’s most ex­cit­ing young golfers. Be­fore they com­pete at the CP Women’s Open at the Ot­tawa Hunt and Golf Club this sum­mer, Lisa Wal­lace caught up with the sis­ters.

What does it mean to have Brit­tany by your side?

Brooke: It means the world to me. She’s the one who got me into golf in the first place, as I would al­ways go out and watch her play in ju­nior tour­na­ments. She’s not only my sis­ter, but she’s my cad­die, my best friend, my travel buddy. She does a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing. … I know it will sound weird, but we re­ally don’t get into ar­gu­ments with one another, which is crazy, con­sid­er­ing how much time we spend to­gether — espe­cially when we share ho­tel rooms!

Brit­tany, is it ever dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with Brooke?

Brit­tany: Not re­ally. We both know our roles and take them very se­ri­ously. I try to be the best cad­die that I can be.

When you dis­agree, who gets the fi­nal say?

Brooke: Def­i­nitely me! We are usu­ally on the same page, but there have def­i­nitely been times when Brit­tany has given some friendly ad­vice that I have not taken.

Brit­tany, you had been play­ing on the Symetra Tour [a sec­ond-tier pro­fes­sional tour in the United States] when you de­cided to be­come Brooke’s cad­die. Do you feel you’ve put your own plans on hold to help her? Brit­tany: Not at all. This is the life that we have cho­sen to lead, and we are so lucky to be able to

do it. A lot of peo­ple might view it as a sac­ri­fice, but hon­estly, it was a de­ci­sion that we came to that we all felt com­fort­able with. My pro­fes­sional and per­sonal life is con­tin­u­ing down the path that I feel great about, and it’s pretty fun to be able to ex­pe­ri­ence that with my lit­tle sis­ter.

Brooke, what are some of the things you’ve learned since you’ve turned pro? Brooke:

It’s been an ab­so­lute dream to turn pro­fes­sional and play on the LPGA for a liv­ing. I have learned so much even in just two short years. On the golf side, the most sur­pris­ing les­son is how to bal­ance my time be­tween prac­tice, work­ing out, me­dia, and spon­sor com­mit­ments. It’s of­ten dif­fi­cult to jug­gle it all. All of that has also helped me to ma­ture as a per­son and be­come a bit more in­de­pen­dent and con­fi­dent in how I han­dle my­self and make de­ci­sions.

You al­most didn’t go to the Rio Olympics last sum­mer be­cause of the Zika virus. What was it like once you were there?

Brooke: The Olympics was such an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence! … I loved liv­ing in the vil­lage and get­ting to hang out with dif­fer­ent world-class ath­letes across other sports, and it was amaz­ing to have golf be a part of it. I was bummed to not be up on that podium at the end, but it’s cer­tainly a goal of mine, and I look for­ward to try­ing to get back to Tokyo in 2020.

Brooke, you’re still a teenager and yet, in many ways, you haven’t re­ally lived the life of a nor­mal teenager. Does it ever feel weird?

Brooke: My life now is ob­vi­ously pretty dif­fer­ent than it was when I was still in high school, but I was lucky to be able to ex­pe­ri­ence a pretty nor­mal teenage life all the way through high school grad­u­a­tion. It wasn’t all that dif­fer­ent from some of my other friends or my friends who com­peted in other sports, but golf was al­ways one of the fo­cal points for me.

OM

Sis­ter act Although the sis­ters look close in age to­day (at left), the six-year age dif­fer­ence is more no­tice­able in the fam­ily pho­tos their mother shared with

In many ways, fam­ily is part of your ca­reer as your dad has al­ways been your coach and now Brit­tany is your cad­die. How much does it mean to have that sup­port? My dad has been our coach since day one, and it’s been so spe­cial to have both him and my mom out here on this jour­ney with Brit­tany and me. They come to as many tour­na­ments as they can. Dad’s our num­ber one coach and mom is our num­ber one cheer­leader. It’s so much fun to do this as a team, and I’m lucky to have the sup­port that I do.

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