BELLEAIR, Fla. – For the first time in nearly two years, Brooke Henderson was able to look over the gallery ropes and see her parents Dave and Darlene compete in person at the Pelican LPGA Championship. The border restrictions between the US and Canada changed on Monday for vaccinated people.
“It’s just a kind of comfort,” Brooke said of her presence, adding that her father’s confirmation that she is in the right line or position builds her confidence.
With no ShotLink and limited TV coverage on Thursday, the opening 3 under 67 was the first time since January 2020 that Dave had seen every shot and decision his two daughters made over the course of a round.
“I’m good at learning how to score,” said Dave. “You were out of position a couple of times today.”
Also in the gallery was Mike Miller, a Rochester, New York resident who has now traveled to 50 LPGA events to see Henderson. A longtime LPGA supporter, Miller first saw Henderson in 2015 and went from being a superfan to being a family friend over time. A few years ago he even attended a family hockey game.
One of the most popular players on the LPGA, Brooke’s Brigade, as Miller points out, is certainly not limited to Canadians. The 10-time LPGA winner is known for her aggressive style and length, which makes her one of the most entertaining players to follow. One of the ways she’s getting that extra pop is by choking on a 48-inch driver.
“I started beating a driver who was over 46 when I was 15,” she said, “and I’ve never looked back.”
So of great interest to Henderson is a new local rule issued by the US Golf Association and R&A in October that allows the maximum length of a driver to be limited to 46 inches.
Last month, LPGA Golfweek said in a statement that the tour had planned to implement the new rule sometime after the 2021 season. After a personal player meeting on Tuesday at the Pelican, however, the door is open for a dialogue.
Brooke believes players should have more control over the decision. Dave agrees and says the longer clubs add more excitement to the tour.
“I think it takes skill to hit it,” said Brooke.
There will be a club testing area at the CME Group Tour Championship next week to check rider lengths. The tour will also begin by asking players about the possible changes.
Nothing has been finalized with newly elected board members – Stacy Lewis and Ally Ewing were elected this week. There was also discussion at the meeting about whether the LPGA will follow the PGA Tour’s lead to change what is allowed in green reading books.
The Executive Leadership Team, Rules Committee, and Player Directors will ultimately call both the Driver Length and Green Reading books.
Last month, the PGA Tour announced in a statement that it planned to implement the Local Rule early next year. A survey of the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, and Korn Ferry Tour found that a very small number of players have used, or are currently using, clubs greater than 46 inches in length. The new rule does not apply to putters.
Henderson said she started testing a 46-inch driver and she “didn’t like it” by losing several feet. She wants the tour to forego implementing the Model Local Rule, which means she’ll likely only have to use a 46-inch driver at the US Women’s Open and AIG Women’s British Open, where the rule is enforced.
Henderson currently ranks ninth on the tour in driving distance at 273.8 yards.