At 25 years young, Canadian LPGA rookie Brittany Marchand appears calm and confident beyond her years as she finishes up her second round at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After cozying up her fourth shot beside the hole, a mid-range putt from just off the fringe, Brittany would tap in for par. After removing the ball from the hole, she gave a slight nod and thank-you to the crowd, a quick smile to her caddie, let out a deep breath, and, finally, gave one stoic look back at the cup as if to say, I’m not done with you yet.
This is Brittany’s first appearance in the LPGA’s Volvik Championship held just miles from iconic Michigan Stadium. Unfazed by the moment, she carries herself with the composure of a seasoned veteran.
Growing up in Orangeville, Ontario, just a four-hour drive from Ann Arbor, Brittany has been a stalwart on Golf Canada teams since joining their development squad in 2011. Now, in her sixth year in the Golf Canada fold, Brittany’s resume includes graduating from NC State in 2014 with a degree in Chemical Engineering, where she was an All-ACC golfer three straight years, and is highlighted by wins at last year’s PHC Classic on the Symetra Tour and another at the PGA Women’s Championship of Canada last July.
All signs currently point to Brit becoming the next regular name on a list of professional Canadian golfers that is slowly, yet surely, rounding into form, and showing glimmers of hope that they can give golf in Canada an identity this country hasn’t seen since the days of Mike Weir — except now there are multiple names in the mix.
Adam Hadwin, Brooke Henderson, Graham DeLaet, Nick Taylor, and David Hearn have made great strides in recent years to grow the game in this country. Corey Conners and Ben Silverman, meanwhile, are doing their best to get into the next tier of successful touring pros. And Brittany, it appears, isn’t far behind.
Heading into the weekend in Ann Arbor, Brittany was well positioned to make a run at the top of the leaderboard. Rounds of 70-69 had her at 5-under-par and in a tie for 12th place; just four strokes off the lead. I spoke with her following her round.
Q: Going into weekends like this one, is it win or bust for you? Or do you set goals for top-tens’, twenties, etc?
A: At this point I’m always wanting to win the tournament. It’s pretty hard to come into something and not want to win it. The last few weeks I’ve been making cuts, but over the weekend, I haven’t been able to string any good rounds together. So, I’d be happy with stringing those rounds together and then, if I win or get a top-ten — great. That’s kind of the goal.
Q: Are you in the US Women’s Open field next week?
A: No, I didn’t try to qualify. Before this, I was doing both Symetra [Tour] and out here [LPGA Tour], because with conditional status I didn’t really know what would happen until the reshuffle, and now that I’ve reshuffled up my status and I’m into every event, I needed next week off because I’m going to be playing the next six in a row after that. I just decided that there’s lots of US Opens to come, (laughs) hopefully.
Q: The last name Marchand, I have to ask; is there any relation to Brad?
A: My Nana says that potentially we are related. We’re from the same place in Canada. He’s from near Halifax in Nova Scotia, and my family is from just outside, well closer to Cape Breton, so potentially. But, honestly, I’m not too sure.
Q: And you’re from Orangeville, right?
A: Right. Before, I was in Mississauga, like, actually born there, it was my birthplace. But I actually grew up in Orangeville. So, I just say: “Orangeville.”
Q: The only times I’ve been to Orangeville have been for lacrosse. How much of your childhood or teenage years were spent around rinks or lacrosse sticks?
A: Yeah! A lot of my guy friends played on the lacrosse team, and obviously they were really good. They were always the best, so, you know, the lacrosse team was like the “top thing”. So, we always would watch. A couple of my friends played girls lacrosse, too. I watched it, but I never played it or partook in it. But, it was definitely a big thing in Orangeville.
Q: What does the CP [Canadian Pacific] Women’s Open mean to you? Obviously, it’s not a major, but is it right at the top of that next tier?
A: Yeah, to me it really is. I think a lot of girls think it’s a top-notch event. They just do such a great job each year, there’s a good purse, and I think, for me, obviously, being at home, it’s really important to play well — not that I have to, but I’d like to. Last year I thought I had a fairly good showing; not having status out here, but going out and making the cut. I just love playing at home. Everyone is all with you. It’s kind of cool.
Q: Do you get back to the Orangeville/Toronto area much?
A: I’ll be going back this week… well, next week. I have the week off and I have my car, so I’ll drive home. My parents are here. I’ll go home for a few days, and then I have to go to Victoria for a Team Canada media day training camp. I live just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina now, so, all winter, I spend there; and, once in a while, in the summer, I go back [home], too.
Q: Do you have any favourite things to do in the Toronto area? Niagara Falls?
A: I feel like Orangeville is far enough away. I like Niagara Falls. Now, a bunch of my friends live in Toronto… work there and stuff. I like to go down and visit them. Honestly, when I go home now, it’s just family and seeing all of my friends; things like that. So, I don’t really have a favourite thing to do. That’s a good question; I’ll have to think about it. I love to go up to cottage country. My family used to have a cottage up north in Huntsville. I always tried to get there, but we don’t really go anymore. But, that is more my thing: outdoors, hiking — those kinds of things.
Q: What are your sports allegiances? Aside from golf. Are you a Leafs fan?
A: (Whispers) No. I’m unfortunately not a very big sports fan. I follow hockey, but not too closely.
Q: How can you say that?!
A: I know! I say it very quietly. My caddie, he is from Charleston, South Carolina, and he is such a big hockey fan! I told him, “You’ve been really good for me because you’re teaching me more about the game!” (laughs) I just didn’t grow up watching. My brother, he barely played hockey, and I just never followed it. I feel like I’m always going to root for the Leafs first before anyone else. When I was at NC State, we went to see Carolina play against the Leafs and I was obviously rooting for the Leafs.
Q: Your caddie; he’s not Canadian then? He is from Charleston, correct?
A: He was born in South Carolina. He grew up playing hockey; he’s a huge hockey fan. He’s rooting for Vegas (laughs). So maybe I’ll root for Vegas, too. Once Winnipeg was out, I was obviously rooting for them.
Q: Yeah. I think most Canadians were. Are you staying in the houses on-site here?
A: I’m in private housing, but it’s not right here. It’s about ten minutes out, around another golf course. I’m with a really sweet family.
Q: Okay, last question. Does Ann Arbor remind you at all of Orangeville?
A: Yes. I love this stretch of the year when we get up north. This is the type of golf I grew up with. The grass, tree-lined courses, those are the kind that I like and they remind me of home. It’s nice to get out of the Bermuda [grass] and be in this type of grass. I really like this course.
Q: Great! Thank you so much for your time.
A: My pleasure! No problem.
** Brittany would go on to shoot 72-71 on the weekend and finish in a tie for 32nd, her best finish this season. After a week off, Brittany will start a string of six events in a row next week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, in Galloway, New Jersey. This year’s CP Women’s Open will be held August 23rd-26th in Regina, Saskatchewan.