By Chris Stevenson, Special to Flagstick.com
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – One of the goals Smiths Falls phenom Brooke Henderson had for this LPGA season was adding 10 yards to her drives.
After a winter of working out (she does look fitter this season) and armed with a new PING G series driver with a 48-inch shaft, she’s been averaging close to 270 yards off the tee (compare that to about 253 yards at the Women’s U.S. Open last summer).
Dave Henderson, Brooke’s dad and coach, said they also have tweaked her swing and did so after watching the action of Canadian long drive champ Jamie Sadlowski.
The native of St. Paul, AB, is a two-time world long drive champion despite being a lot smaller than some of his competitors.
“It’s funny how all the little things add up to major things,” Dave Henderson said while waiting for Brooke to finish up interviews inside the media centre at the ANA Inspiration, the first major of the LPGA season.
“All we’ve been talking about is little tweaks. We’ve been talking about Jamie Sadlowski often and watching the long drive guys. Jamie Sadlowski is only 5-11 and 170 pounds and competing against guys 6-5 and 6-6 and 280 pounds and he’s the guy who can come out on top. We’re looking at the position of his wrists and the things he’s doing, turning on the ball, the way he can turn.”
Dave said what they gave up in accuracy (Brooke is hitting 67.86 percent of fairways, 103rd on Tour) is worth the gain in distance (she is 13th on Tour in driving distance).
“She was hitting it so straight we were willing to give up a little accuracy,” said Dave. “The fairways we’ve missed have been on purpose trying to get better angles around trees and that type of thing.
“She’s worked out a little bit harder physically and she’s tried to eat to gain power and speed. It’s been a combination of all those things and coaching and instruction, as well, and those four or five things add up.”
Team Henderson is hoping they could add up to a major win this week.
/ Chris Stevenson Twitter: @CJ_Stevenson