Courtsey Issac Henry-Cano
Issac Henry-Cano

A Swing Through the Great Northwest With Isaac Henry-Cano

Sam Laskaris

Isaac Henry-Cano Is inspring youth in Seattle to get a grip

Isaac Henry-Cano has certainly changed his tune about golf.

Back when he was 13, Henry-Cano was an aspiring baseball player.

When he broke his arm playing that sport his doctor suggested taking up golf as part of his rehabilitation. “He told me maybe I should pick up golf to improve my range of motion,” says Henry-Cano, a member of Washington’s Tulalip Tribes. “But I said, No way am I playing golf and wearing those silly pants!”

He eventually changed his mind, in part because his father had started playing the sport.

“I got competitive. I wanted to beat my dad. As soon as I did that, I thought, Who else can I beat?”

Fast forward to today and Henry-Cano is working as a golf pro. Since February of last year he has been the assistant golf professional at the Fairmont Golf and Country Club in Renton, Washington.

Henry-Cano, 39, is also one of the Fab Five – a group of Native golfers recently chosen to be part of the N7 Golf Initiative. This Nike venture, being launched this summer, will in part encourage Native youth to take up golf. “To be able to do this on a national level with Nike is amazing,” says Henry-Cano, who had done some local golf advisory work with Nike the past two years.

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After playing golf for his high school team, Henry-Cano played for a couple of years at the Green River Community College in his home state before transferring to Western Washington University for his junior and senior years in 1998.

He turned pro in 2000, and for the next five years competed on the Gateway Tour, the Cascade Golf Tour, the Oregon Golf Association Tour and the defunct tour run by the First Nations Golf Association. After he got married and starting a family, Henry-Cano decided the best way to make a living was not by travelling week to week to pro events hoping to earn a paycheck. He opted for some steady money while continuing to work in the golf industry.

After working for a Seattle-area golf store for a few years, he accepted a golf pro position at Seattle’s Interbay Golf Center.

“I’m using my skills in a different way,” he says. “I’m still playing locally. And I’m teaching and still working in the industry.”

Henry-Cano is also thrilled that he was chosen to be part of the N7 Golf Initiative. “It’s a way to give back to the community. And any involvement I can have and help the Native youth with is great.”

Henry-Cano believes there is still plenty of awareness and work to be done

in order to see more Native youth in the sport. “It is starting to get bigger,” he says. “The sport is growing. But it’s not a cheap sport. You have to have the clubs. You have to have the equipment. You have to have the apparel. And you have to have a place to play.

“One negative right now is that every tribe has a gym and a baseball field of some sort. But not every tribe has a course or a driving range to introduce people to the sport.”

In addition to his upcoming involvement with the N7 Golf Initiative, Henry-Cano is also part of the Golf In Schools program, which teaches the sport to elementary school children in western Washington.

The aim of the Golf In Schools program is to promote social, physical and emotional development for children through the sport.

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