Community leader Gayle Henry is unsung hero of GolfBC Championship
April 28, 2020
By Brendan Stasiewich, PGATOUR.COM
- April 28, 2020
- Gayle Henry with Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada player Taylor Hancock (left) and her husband Dwyane (right).
For many Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada players, experiencing the life of a touring professional with PGA TOUR aspirations for the first time, any sense of routine and normalcy can help with the transition.
For Gayle Henry, the volunteer chair of the GolfBC Championship since 2017, the goal is to make the lives of the young athletes a little easier by offering a feeling of home and community while at the Tour’s stop in Kelowna, B.C.
Gayle and her husband, Dwayne, always knew it was in their future to retire in the Valley. After 23 years with the Bank of Montreal in Regina, Saskatchewan, Gayle realized it was finally time.
She retired from her job as sales leader, and shortly after, in 2011, Dwayne sold the manufacturing laser-cutting business he started in 1995. The only thing left for the Henrys to do was find somewhere that felt like home.
After playing a few rounds at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Club, the couple experienced that very same sense of home and community they now offer by housing Mackenzie Tour pros. They found their dream retirement home on the golf course’s 10th hole, and that turned out to be the perfect spot to share with PGA TOUR hopefuls each June.
“The Mackenzie Tour feels like you’re part of a family. On the PGA TOUR, players often have families that they bring along,” said Gayle of the different feelings on the two Tours, noting that most Mackenzie Tour players are single. “Out here, all the players are in it together, traveling the country, and we love experiencing that.”
When the news dropped that the Mackenzie Tour was expanding its schedule to include a stop at Gallagher’s Canyon in 2016, the couple couldn’t raise their hands fast enough to pitch.
“My husband was concerned he wouldn’t even get to caddie, so he signed up immediately and inquired about the pro-am,” said Henry, who ran the pro-am in her first year as a volunteer. “I love golf, and we love to watch it together, so we were so excited for a professional event to come here and we certainly wanted to be involved.”
Dwayne caddied for Taylor Hancock, and they became fast friends. Hancock brought his friend, Hank Lebioda, to the Henrys for a few dinners, and the four developed quite the rapport. In August, the Henrys traveled to Alberta so that Dwayne could caddie for Taylor and share some more stories around the dinner table.
“Originally, we thought volunteering would give us the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and make lifelong friends,” said Henry. “Our relationship with some of the players, like Taylor, grew from there, and we still keep in touch with them today.”
During one particular dinner, the Henrys offered Hancock and Lebioda space at their winter home in Arizona if either one played an event in the state. Lo and behold, the following winter Lebioda successfully navigated Korn Ferry Tour Q-School while bunking with the Henrys, an important step on his path to the PGA TOUR.
“When I met them my rookie season, they immediately welcomed me into their home like they had known me their entire life,” said Lebioda of the Henrys. “The home-cooked meals and comfy bed made all the difference.”
“What I think he liked about that was that he had a home away from all the activity,” said Gayle. “Staying with a family gives a player the chance to focus on himself and golf, and I think that’s important for the young guys, to feel like they are in a home environment and to go about their routines and not be distracted.”
In 2017, Gayle took the reins as volunteer chair of the event, spending most of her time, beginning in December each year, leading a group of 350 like-minded locals looking to pitch in.
“My husband tells me he needs a volunteer shirt on in order to get my attention,” Henry said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of work from start to finish, and I put a ton of hours into it but it’s really rewarding, and the people are fantastic.”
While Henry recounts Dwayne caddying for 2017 champion Robby Shelton and Greyson Sigg shooting a course-record 59 among her best memories, when looking back at her four years as a volunteer, in the end it comes down to the personal relationships she’s made through the experience.
“I definitely can’t take all of the credit; the entire group of volunteers we have here are just fantastic, and so many of them play at the golf course and we’ve gotten so close through all of this,” added Gayle. “It’s hard to think of just one great memory; every year has been so rewarding.”
The Mackenzie Tour is filled with tournaments whose host organizations and volunteer units include tight-knit communities. If you ask Lebioda, Gayle is the embodiment of that.
“Gayle Henry truly is what the Mackenzie Tour is all about.”