Everyone has an opinion. That’s fine; people are welcome to them. But when it comes to forming those opinions, a little information goes a long way towards making them have greater validity.
As you can imagine, being a golf publication in Eastern Ontario that has been sharing stories about Brooke and Brittany Henderson for about a decade and a half now, we have managed to get to know the pair quite well. That’s a lot of time spent observing them both as juniors, amateurs, playing professionals, and their current player/caddy relationship.
As the fame of the duo has grown around the world we also seem to end up in more conversations than ever about the pair.
One common theme we continue to hear (despite being together for multiple LPGA wins, including a major championship) is people bringing forward the idea that Brooke could have more success with a “professional” caddy.
I bristle at the assertion each time it is made. For several reasons.
Yes, if it bothers them, I am sure Brooke and Brittany can come to their own defense, but here’s my perspective.
The problem, it seems, for many people, is that they are not as familiar with Brittany as they should be. A conversation with a fan at the 2017 CP Women’s Open proved that the spectator (one who brought up the caddy “issue”) did not even realize that Brittany was a golfer herself. And a heck of one at that. As Brooke grew up, Britt was her golf idol.
Five years before Brooke joined the National Team Program, Brittany was a member of the Golf Canada National Development Team Program. A multiple time CJGA National Champion, she would go on to play collegiate golf for Coastal Carolina University where she won consecutive Big South Conference Championships in her Junior and Senior years.
After turning pro Brittany won on the SunCoast Tour and was in the field of the LPGA’s Cambia Portland Classic in 2015 (she was then a member of the Symetra Tour) when her younger sister won there for her first LPGA title.
The next year Brittany took up carrying the bag of her sister full-time.
I lay all this out simply to show that Brittany knows how to play the game. She understands it as a player and how to navigate a golf course.
But that is not what makes her the best choice as a caddy/partner for Brooke.
You see, the caddy/player dynamic is a very tricky one. Having been on the bag for players at the Canadian Amateur, on the Mackenzie Tour, and on the LPGA TOUR, I can attest to this personally.
The real art of caddying is being in tune with your player. To know what they are thinking before they even think it, and to act accordingly. Witness a player at a pro event using a local caddy where there is no relationship or chemistry; it’s just not the same.
To observe a player and caddy that know each other work together is like watching a symphony. All the notes are on key. The caddy knows what to say and when. They have a golf ball, tee or club ready for the player without them asking. The caddy knows the players warm-up routine. When they like to eat; what they want to drink. Whether they want confirmation of yardages and how they want that communicated to them. There are a million small details that all help to make the player more comfortable and allows them to put their energy where it is needed to get the most from the performance.
I once caddied for a player who wanted me to hand him a cigarette every two holes, unless he made a bogey, then he wanted one right away. A caddy does whatever it takes to make their player at ease. Those that don’t should not expect a return engagement.
“Brooke is really mature for her age”, noted Brittany to Flagstick.com last year during the 2017 CP Women’s Open on her caddy relationship with her sister. “She is the boss on the course and I like to think that I’m one of the bosses off the course. On the course, she makes all the final decisions. I give her all the facts and she asks for my opinion and I give it. Otherwise, off the course we talk and make decisions. As with anyone, sometimes you want advice and I’m happy to offer it.”
Having known each other all their lives and enjoyed hundreds of games together, Brittany is more familiar with Brooke’s tendencies that anyone on the planet. She IS the best person for the job and I am sure the position is hers for as long as she wants it.
As it should be.
We just get the privilege of watching two sisters play out their golf dreams on a world stage.
The critics should just sit back and enjoy history in the making.
Brooke is in good hands.