In celebration of American Father’s Day, Global Golf Post Plus has shared a collection of stories on how the bond between fathers and their children is strengthened through the game. Today, Brittany Henderson, sister and caddie to Brooke Henderson, writes of the siblings’ relationships with their father, Dave.
His passion for teaching and love of sport make him a natural coach.
My father, Dave Henderson, was a school teacher and youth athletics director in Ontario before I picked up a golf club and before my younger sister, Brooke, was born. He played hockey at a high level. But he has always been a coach at his core. As long as I can remember, Dad has had a coaching temperament, pushing us when we needed it, knowing when we needed consoling and coming up with exactly the right words at the right time.
No matter the direction our passions or dreams had taken us, Dad would have been there to help us, guide us and offer his knowledge; whether it had been hockey, basketball, curling or something outside the sports world. (When I was younger I had dreamed of becoming a singer and Dad bought me a karaoke machine so I could practice my singing at home.)
The fact that Dad coached us in golf was the result of a big life decision made by my parents.
When I was 6, we got a summer cottage on a golf course. Dad had been a great golfer in his junior days, but had given it up to focus on hockey. After we got the cottage, he took the game up again, heading out in the afternoons to play an eight-hole loop behind the house. By the time I was 9, I really wanted to join him. Dad gave me a cut-off iron and told me, “Okay, if you can hit the heads off all the dandelions in the yard, you can come out with me.” That might sound like sending a kid on a wild goose chase, but it was brilliant coaching. We had hundreds of dandelions. If I hit the heads off all of them without losing interest, it would prove that I really wanted to play. It also forced me to focus on hitting a small object with a golf club.
Once the yard was clear, I followed Dad onto the course after dinner. Brooke was 3 years old at the time. When Brooke started playing, she thought the goal was to get the ball in the hole the fastest, no matter how many strokes it took. She would hit and run, getting to the green first and taking a dozen putts but doing it quickly. When she got the ball in first, she would hold it up in the air like she had won.
We trusted him, not just because he was our Dad, but because the things he told us worked.
Growing up in the small town of Smiths Falls, with about 8,000 people, on the Rideau River in eastern Ontario, there weren’t a lot of girls playing golf. By the time I was 12, I was the best in the area by a wide margin. Dad knew this and knew that I needed more competition to continue to get better. So, that year I played in the U.S. Kids World Championship in Virginia and finished fifth. That’s when golf became our after-school and summer activity.
Brooke played hockey and golf starting at age 8 and Dad coached her in both. Like her, he had been a goalie. And he was a great communicator. It was easy for both of us to learn from him. He set achievable goals for us. When I was really young, he told me that when two of my shots from the forward tees reached his tee shot from the back tees, we could start playing more holes and play in the middle of the day rather than in the evenings. When Brooke was about the same age, he told her that she could enter a tournament when she could play nine holes without a three-putt.
We trusted him, not just because he was our Dad, but because the things he told us worked. But the other thing, the most important thing, that helped our relationship with Dad coaching us was that he has always emphasized, “I’m your dad first and I love you no matter what.” We have always felt like we had his unconditional love and support. A lot of young people have trouble with parents coaching them because they reach a point where they think their parents don’t know anything. But also, deep down, kids have trouble understanding that a parent’s love has nothing to do with how you perform in a sport. Sure, your dad wants you to do well. But he doesn’t stop loving you because you play poorly.
We knew that we had our father and our coach. They were the same man but separate roles. Sometimes Coach would say things you might not want to hear. But Dad would always be there to love and support us at home. Nobody in our family ever confused the two.
He was also a master at fostering competition without letting it get out of hand. Brooke is six years younger than I. And there was never a time when she wasn’t trying to compete with me. She was so much younger and smaller that I found it kind of funny to see her confidence. She was always convinced that she could compete with me and anyone else.
Dad recognized that fire and never tried to dissuade it. He loved playing and coaching and loved our competitive nature. I was competitive in college and played on the Symetra Tour. Brooke was driven by that and fostered and coached by our father she is now the winningest Canadian professional golfer in history.
We owe our success in sports to our coach. And we owe our success and balance as people to the man who raised us and loves us. We are blessed beyond measure that both jobs fell to the same person. We love you Dad.
© 2021 Global Golf Post LLC
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?