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5 things you can learn from 18-year-old major champion Brooke Henderson

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Copy Brooke Henderson.

No, don’t copy her swing or her putting stroke (but that may not be a bad idea either); copy her attitude, because the wonderful self-expression and joy she brings to the game is worth celebrating and showcasing for young players … or any player.

Young golfers today look to Jason Day, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy (for obvious reasons), but they may want to model their attitudes after the 18-year-old Canadian on the LPGA Tour. Brooke Henderson seems to have a great recipe for both enjoying the game, remaining humble and playing some pretty spectacular golf that is generating great results.

In a time where everything seems to be overstated, Brooke Henderson won the Women’s PGA Championship in an understated manner. No fist pumping, no running around, no over-the-top drama: just hitting shots like she is capable of, enjoying the experience, connecting with the audience and matter-of-factly finishing at the top of the leaderboard.

No Fear

Brooke Henderson pic

Photo Credit: Joe McLean, Flagstick Golf Magazine/FlagstickGolf.com

Fear is a major interference in golf. We can look forward and consider all of the “what ifs” that could potentially happen, and most of the what ifs you might consider don’t have a positive effect on your game. Then there’s bringing the past forward. The tendency is to bring those things that really didn’t work out to the present moment, and those thoughts and feelings don’t help.

Brooke Henderson plays without fear. As an example, while most players at the recent Women’s PGA Championship highlighted the narrowness of the Sahalee fairways and that drivers wouldn’t be the play, Henderson stated to the media early in the week that driver would be the play for her. It’s her strength, and narrow fairways would not be a problem, she said. In a very self-aware manner, similar to Dustin Johnson in the U.S. Open, she used her driving as a weapon at the PGA, played to all of her strengths, leveraged her advantages and fully expressed herself.

In a recent interview, Henderson was asked about nerves and anxiety and her response was: “I used to get a bit nervous but then thought, ‘What’s the point of that, really?’”

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

What was most refreshing about Henderson and watching her win the PGA was the overall environment she creates within herself: a relaxed joy that produces great smiles after good shots, some disappointment after bad ones and a self-awareness that she understands her unique abilities and uses them. There was also a complete clarity following the winning putt in the playoff. She was determined to congratulate playing competitor Lydia Ko with a genuine embrace and acknowledge caddies and volunteers.

What can you learn from Brooke Henderson to become a better player?

Brooke Henderson pic2

Photo Credit: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick Golf Magazine/Flagstick.com

No. 1: Clearly understand your natural abilities and leverage them

Brooke Henderson’s swing motion hasn’t changed much from the 10-year-old in the picture above. The swing is dynamic and produces club head speed. Know what you naturally do well, and use that to your advantage at every opportunity. Her swing has evolved, but there hasn’t been a lot of tinkering since the early days.

No. 2: Be your own best friend on the course

Brooke Henderson has her sister on her bag to support her, but also seems to manage her own voice to create a genuine, honest climate within herself. A negative voice is a distraction and creates self doubt.

No. 3: Don’t be afraid to try new things

Henderson put a new putter and new irons in her bag the week of the PGA and had complete confidence they would do the job for her.

No. 4: Stay in the moment and enjoy the challenge

It’s cliché, but staying in the moment eliminates distraction and fear from the game. Projecting forward with “what ifs” and bringing negative experiences back from the past will create doubt and fear, and cause performance interference to the shot at hand.

No. 5: Lighten up

Even as a professional, Brooke Henderson has fun playing the game. She embraces the competition, enjoys what the game offers and expresses herself. Emotion is a part of her game in a positive way. Celebrate your own good shots and enjoy what’s going on on the course.

brooke_henderson_shoes

I think we can all learn a lot from the young Canadian, now ranked No. 2 in the world, who has “I love golf” stitched into her golf shoes.

After all, it’s just a game… isn’t it?

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John Haime is the President of New Edge Performance. He's a Human Performance Coach who prepares performers to be the their best by helping them tap into the elusive 10 percent of their abilities that will get them to the top. This is something that anyone with a goal craves, and John Haime knows how to get performers there. John closes the gap for performers in sports and business by taking them from where they currently are to where they want to go.  The best in the world trust John. They choose him because he doesn’t just talk about the world of high performance – he has lived it and lives in it everyday. He is a former Tournament Professional Golfer with professional wins. He has a best-selling book, “You are a Contender,” which is widely read by world-class athletes, coaches and business performers.  He has worked around the globe for some of the world’s leading companies. Athlete clients include performers who regularly rank in the Top-50 in their respective sports. John has the rare ability to work as seamlessly in the world of professional sports as he does in the world of corporate performance. His primary ambition writing for GolfWRX is to help you become the golfer you'd like to be. See www.johnhaime.com for more. Email: [email protected]

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. rr

    Jun 26, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Redrum

  2. LHR

    Jun 25, 2016 at 3:26 am

    No, he calls you that because that’s what we call people like you cos that’s the truth

  3. about time

    Jun 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Do In Gee next.

  4. Jack

    Jun 24, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    “No fist pumping, no running around, no over-the-top drama…”

    And what’s wrong with a little celebration? Going to be a lifeless robot your whole life?

    • John Haime

      Jun 24, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Hey Jack,

      Thanks for the comment.

      If you’ve watched Brooke play – there’s a consistent joy in how she plays throughout the round or tournament as compared to many players who have so much bottled up tension and anxiety – that the “drama” I am speaking about is almost a sense of relief in a big outburst. The difference with Brooke is there isn’t any tension/anxiety – as evidenced by the smile, small fist pump and complete awareness.

      Celebration is great – especially spreading it out over 72 holes. But, most players, in your words, get in robot mode, the tension/anxiety builds over 71 holes and then the emotion becomes uncorked on hole 72.

      I think we can learn from the consistent self-expression from Brooke Henderson. Her approach looked refreshingly professional – natural and poised.

      • Rich

        Jun 28, 2016 at 8:25 pm

        Absolutely couldn’t agree more. She is fabulous young golfer and I think a true challenger to Lydia Ko. Women’s golf is in great shape with Brooke and Lydia at the top.

  5. Tc

    Jun 23, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    I think it’s time this website only allowed comments by signing in with a proper email account and credit card number to get rid of immaturity like Smizzle

  6. M Smibble

    Jun 23, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    clean it up bro

  7. Emmizzle

    Jun 23, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    ur gonna get a whipping for that disgraceful comment. hope ur sister slaps u too. dont be mad cause lydia ko kicked ur butt even w a stroke a hole. GO BROOKE

  8. Jackson Galaxy

    Jun 23, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Here is the WITB

    http://ping.com/tour/prodetails.aspx?id=19068

    Yes that is a 48″ driver shaft, but she grips down on it quite a bit.

    • Emmizzle

      Jun 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      THANKS.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Jun 23, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      That link is a Ping website. Apparently Brooke has all Ping clubs. But no putter. OMG, did she choose something other than Ping?! C’mon Ping, man up (woman up) and show her putter, even if it isn’t yours. You’re wusses. I swear I saw her with a putter on TV!

  9. Smith

    Jun 23, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Damnit M Smeezy, I like where your head’s at.

  10. Weekend Duffer

    Jun 23, 2016 at 8:38 am

    And include more detailed shaft info

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Man, I am SO IMPRESSED with the progress and polish Charlie Woods has made with his golf swing in the last year; and boy it’s nice to see Tiger swinging and playing golf! Charlie still has the strong grip but a bit more tempered which allows him to stay more connected to the ground and streamline the efficiency in his golf swing and never taking away his ability to find his targets! Check it out!!

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I feel blessed to have spent my life in South Texas, where we have the luxury of playing golf year-round. Sure, we have some bad winter weather, but it usually only lasts a few days, then it’s back to the course, maybe with a light sweater or windbreaker . . . but oftentimes in shorts, even in December-February. One of the first things I had to learn when I got into the golf industry 40 years ago, was that so many of you have genuine seasonality to your golf – and actually “hang ‘em up” for months on end.

If you are one of those, or just any golfer who wants to get better in 2022, the great thing about this game is you can work on many improvements without even getting the golf ball involved. So, here are some ideas how you can improve your golf game indoors.

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I’ve long believed that you can learn and ingrain these core fundamentals in the comfort of your own home, without even swinging a club. So, with that in mind, let me offer you some thoughts that might help you shrink that handicap, regardless of what it might be.

Learn a proper grip. I see so many recreational golfers who just do not hold the club in such a way that allows proper rotation and release of the hands through impact. The great golfers before us pretty much nailed that part of the process very early in their own learning curves and have shared that with us for decades. While you might prefer an overlap, interlock or ten-finger (not baseball) grip on the club, the fundamentals do not change much from one to the other. The club has to be held in the fingers, not the palms, in order for it to move properly through the swing. It really is that simple. Learn a proper grip and make it instinctive and you are taking a giant step to better golf. There are lots of good guides to a proper grip that can be found online, and even some great training grips that guide you to the correct hold on the club.

Build a proper setup. Again, anyone can learn how to put themselves in an athletic position that gives the body a solid starting point for the golf swing. There is no reason at all for anyone to ignore this solid fundamental. Watch the tour players – PGA and LPGA alike, and you will see very little “personalization” of this preparation for the golf swing. They all look almost identical – save for differences in height and weight – at the start of the golf swing. Again, refer to the internet and photos in magazines to see how the body should be positioned to set up a sound, fundamentally solid swing.
Understand the roles of the body and arms. From my observation, the vast majority of recreational golfers control the entire golf swing with the hands and arms, rather than the body core. That’s only “natural”, because you have a ball sitting there in front of you, and a club in your hands with which to hit it . . . makes sense to fully engage your master hand . . . but that isn’t what golf is about. Golf is about learning a powerful repeating swing, then learning how to set yourself up in such a way that the ball will be precisely in the way of the clubhead as you execute that swing.

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There’s just no way I can give “lessons” in this blog, but I hope this made lots of sense to all of you. The more “perfect” you can make your grip, posture, and body core rotation, the more power and precision you will build into your golf swing.

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