EVERY cloud has a lining of silver. Let’s face it, 2020 wasn’t a good year, but as she prepares for an interrupted campaign for her final Ladies European Tour event, Kylie Henry continues to look on the bright side.
There was a great deal of nail-biting fear when the emergency brakes were pulled on the numerous golf courses earlier this year because of the Corona virus and everything came to a chaotic halt.
The future seemed as grim as a series of lows approached from the west, with her husband Scott, the tour pro, still twiddling his thumbs after the mothballing of the men’s Challenge Tour.
But what did we mean about clouds again? “Initially, when everything was locked down, it was very scary,” Henry reflected as she prepared for this week’s season-ending Spanish Open. “This was a huge shift in our lives. In almost 15 years, I hadn’t spent so much time at home, and Scott felt the same way.
But we really had a wonderful time once we got over the disappointment of the cancellation of the tours. We’ve grown used to living a regular husband and wife life.
Rather than packing their packs, picking up their clubs and saying to each other, “Have you turned the iron off?” The Henrys enjoyed this odd domestic paradise before boarding their respective flights to a far-away Gulf country.
“In a long time, we hadn’t spent this much time together,” said the 34-year-old from Glasgow, who won on tour twice in 2014. “The golf courses here were closed at the time, so we couldn’t do much. We brought the shopping to my parents, who took care of my 93-year-old grandma.
“They lived in the country, so at least we could hit balls out of their yard into the farmer’s field and try to avoid the cows. But I really didn’t think we’d even be playing on the tour again this year.”
An admirable act of redemption equivalent to the revival of Mary Rose is that the professional tours across the globe have managed to get back on track. Of course, in recent seasons, the Ladies European Tour hasn’t had its share of issues.
A few years ago, when sponsorship money decreased and tournaments dropped by the wayside, tragic reports of players needing to find extra jobs to supplement their income because playing opportunities were simply not enough to make a living demonstrated the dire state in which the Tour had sunk.
A collaboration with last year’s LPGA Tour, however, gave the European circuit a much-needed boost and the 2020 schedule was the best in years before much of it was wiped out by the pesky pandemic.
“For me personally, 2017 and 2018, when the entire schedule was only 12 or 13 events, felt a lot tougher than this year,”For me personally, 2017 and 2018, when the whole schedule was only 12 or 13 events, felt a lot tougher than this year. “Back then, it really felt like being unemployed. It was really difficult. Before the corona virus struck, this year looked great. Given the tour was shut down for so long, it was a real blessing to play 11 events.
“In order to make it work, the players don’t care about the testing, the rigorous bubbles and all the things you have to go through. Only playing is awesome. When all that was stripped from us, you realized very soon how much you enjoy golf. I certainly appreciate what I am doing more now.
Henry, whose lifelong sponsors, the Watson Foundation and Mar Hall, have stayed faithful to him in a year of great financial hardship, has four top-10 finishes this season and is the leading Scot in the Tour Rankings at No. 14 ahead of the Spanish Finals.
“My game has felt pretty solid for a long time and hopefully I can end the year on a high,” she said of her 11th Tour season.
For several, this year may have been one to forget, but a few weeks ago, Henry would definitely not forget one particular golf match. In the final of a match play event on the Major Johnson’s Tour, a Scottish mini-circuit run by the younger brother of her husband, John, she faced Scott.
For both of us, it was a huge deal and it was a shame our families couldn’t be there to watch,” she said of a close battle on the final green that Scott won. “It’s not easy to play against your own husband. And Scott has a hard time competing against his mom.
Perhaps the secret to marital bliss is a healthy rivalry? “I don’t know,” Henry added with a wry laugh.