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Henry set for busy September after golf tourney success

Ennis resident headed to national tourney in Oklahoma
When it comes to her golf game, it’s definitely better late than never for local competitor Leslie Henry.
Despite not playing her first amateur golf tourney until 2001, Henry qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship last week. Two days later, she qualified for the Texas Cup, an event where the 12-woman North Mid-amateurs Team faces the South Mid-amateurs Team, with Waco being the state’s dividing line.
Henry will head to the Texas Cup at Whispering Pines Golf Course in Trinity from Sept. 28-30, just a few days after she competes at the Amateur Championship on Sept. 20-25 at Tulsa (Okla.) Country Club.
“I really wanted to qualify for the Amateur Championship because I knew I’d be able to make the trip to Tulsa,” Henry said.
“There are some Golf Hall of Famers in the field, winners of the Canadian Open, past Senior Amateur winners and I’m definitely privileged to be part of it. Just to qualify for a national tournament, I feel some sense of accomplishment.”
Born in Houston, Leslie grew up in Dallas and attended high school in Ennis. A graduate of the University of Texas, she was a teacher at Ennis High and the middle school.
As for her introduction to golf, Leslie’s father, Johnny Henry, loved the sport from day one considering both his parents played. He won the Corsicana Club Championship at ages 16 and 40; then kept swinging away in the decades to follow.
Leslie said she was the only one of his five daughters who even vaguely showed an interest in golf.
“I think he probably wanted a son, but I was as close as he could get being the oldest of five daughters,” Leslie said.
“In school, I ran track, played basketball, flag football and was a cheerleader. I always thought I could do whatever I wanted in sports, but it was frustrating in golf because it never came easy.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to play for a large part of my life as a mom. I used to play tennis, but golf is a better option as you get older.”
When 2001 rolled around, Leslie told her dad she wanted to devote the time she spent cooking to another hobby and it’s no surprise what direction Johnny suggested she take.
In 2003, Henry shot a 76 to win her flight as a state amateur. In 2006, she won the Ft. Worth City Championship by beating female golfers from TCU among others.
“I’m a late bloomer in golf and really got started in tournaments when most of the ladies I face now had been playing competitively for decades,” she said.
“More than my ability [to succeed], I was just really determined to make up for lost time and be the best golfer I could.”
The Amateur Championship is a tournament containing 128 women over age 50 from all over the country, and even outside the U.S.A., who qualified in their region.
As for her path, Leslie had to qualify at Spanish Oaks Golf Course in Bee Cave, which is on the south side of Austin. It steadily rained for 14 of the 18 holes she played, so Henry knew it wouldn’t take a great score to qualify.
She also knew Spanish Oaks was a tough, hilly course and in wet conditions her ball wasn’t going to roll. Planning to stay patient, she promptly came up with a triple bogey on the par-five first hole. It was even tougher to deal with considering what she’d been through that morning.
“Before heading to the course, I was looking at my swing in the mirror in my motel room,” she said.
“I took a little too big of a swing and shattered the ceiling fan globe into about 100,000 pieces. The lady at the front desk didn’t charge me because she appreciated my honesty about what happened. I got myself together and went to the tournament with half [of] a box of Band-Aids on me – including my face.”
Leslie had a moment of discouragement to put it mildly after that triple bogey, but she regained her composure to string a bunch of pars together and pull out a qualifying round of 85 – the third-best total among the field.
After two days of competition in Tulsa, the top 64 golfers will advance to the weekend. From there on out, it’s all about match play.
As for Texas Cup qualifying, the top six ladies in the Curtis Cup point standings were automatically named to the North Mid-Amateurs Team. Sitting at No. 7, Leslie had to take part in a 36-hole qualifying tournament at Mira Vista Golf Course in Ft. Worth.
It was raining once again that morning and Leslie shot an 87 in the opening round, which she described as “hideous.”
“Whispering Pines is one of the better courses in the country in my opinion, so I really wanted to make the [North] team and probably put too much pressure on myself,” she said.
“My golf teacher, John Sinclair, pulled me aside at lunch and got into my face like a football coach. He told me to stop trying so hard and just play golf.”
Sure enough, Henry shot a 74 in the afternoon to clinch the second of the six-remaining spots on the North team.
It will be a very busy September for Leslie, but as a local mortgage banker her hours are flexible enough to make time for golf.
“My laptop computer really helps me stay on top of my job while I’m playing golf,” she said.
“I’ve been practicing nearly every day since I qualified, working on all the possible hard golf shots I might run into. I try to imagine every tough situation because odds are you’ll run into several of them at the difficult courses where national tournaments are held.”
The week before the tournaments, Henry will leave practicing behind and play competitive rounds to get in the groove. She definitely feels good about being able to represent Ennis in a positive way.
“I’m happy to make the dot on the map a little bigger,” she said.

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Posted by on Aug 26 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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