Henrik Stenson on Competing, Family, and Playing the Canadian Open for the First Time

This month, Henrik Stenson takes on the Canadian Open for the first time. We talked to him about fatherhood, cycling, and style on the golf course.

This summer, you’re playing the Canadian Open for the first time. What are you most looking forward to?

Niagara Falls. Over the years, there’s been some ice hockey rivalry between Sweden and Canada, but I’ve always found that Swedes and Canadians go very well together. We share a similar mindset.

How did you first get into golf?

I played soccer growing up. When I was 10 or 11, one of my friends and his sister were going out to the driving range and asked if I wanted to tag along. I did, and I loved it. Afterwards, I asked my parents if I could get some golf clubs. They probably thought it would last a couple of weeks.

What qualities do you think make a good golfer?

You’re going to see many different strengths with a lot of the top players: some might hit it really far, some might drive it really straight, some might have a good short game putter and some might be accurate with iron play, and so on. But I think the mental ability is going to be pretty high on all the guys who are in the top. Focus, patience, and how you can handle bad shots and bad breaks. You have to keep on doing your thing.

How do you prepare yourself for a match?

I have a set routine. About two hours before my tee time is when I see my physio. We do some checks, some stretches, and some active warm-up. Then I do my actual golf warm-up, starting with putting and then driving. You’re just trying to execute a plan that you put in place before. The worst thing is if you haven’t done your homework, and get out onto the golf course with no idea what you’re going to do.

How do you unwind away from the course?

I like to do a bit of road biking. I like to just get on the bike and listen to music and get a good workout. That’s one way to get away from what you do day in and day out. And spending time with my family. I live on a lake in Florida, so we have a couple of jet skis and a boat so we can do some water sports. When your work requires mental focus, occupying your mind with something else for a change is relaxing. With three young and active kids at home, a lot of time is devoted to their activities: they play soccer, a little golf, a little tennis.

Has being a father changed the way you approach your work?

For sure. Your kids and your family can help you take focus away from bad things that happen out on the golf course. I think it’s important to separate what you do professionally and your everyday life as well. That’s helped me. Even when you’re struggling, a lot of things stay on your mind, but you have to try and leave it at the golf course, and certainly your family will help you.

You’ve been partners with Hugo Boss since 2004. What are your thoughts on style in golf?

Twenty years ago, fashion in golf was the typical baggy shirts and baggy khakis — it looked pretty tragic. Boss has helped to change that. The clothes are classy, but we’ve also started using a lot of high-performance materials to add functionality.

You’ve accomplished a lot, especially in the last few years. What are your remaining goals?

Travelling the world as much as I’ve done is super cool. I feel like I’ve seen more places in my 25 years of playing golf then most people do in a couple of lifetimes. It’s been a real journey to turn something from hobby into successful profession. The icing on the cake was to win the British Open in 2016. When you’re playing against 150 other players and you’re the best one, leaving that week is a pretty neat thing. As long as I can stay healthy and injury-free with the joy of playing and practising and competing, I’ll carry on for some time ahead.