AFTER spending the last five years helping talented golfers develop in both Turkey and Azerbaijan, Spencer Henderson is believed to be returning to Scotland to take up his old job. The Scotsman has learned that Falkirk-born Henderson is about to be unveiled as the national boys’ coach ahead of the new unified body for Scottish amateur golf coming into force on 1 October.
It is effectively the same role he held for six years before leaving the Scottish Golf Union in 2010 to become the Turkish Golf Federation’s first national coach. After four years in that post, Henderson then moved to Azerbaijan last June to take up a similar ground-breaking job in a country with just one 18-hole course.
I owe a lot to Spencer in getting me to where I am todayRoss Kellett
It now appears he has decided to go back to his coaching roots, so to speak, to help bring through the next wave of young Scottish talent on the back of a notable victory in the Boys’ Home Internationals at Conwy last month. “Coming home and looking forward to the next part of [the] journey,” wrote Henderson on his Facebook page
After serving his PGA training at Duff House Royal, he joined the SGU when it was based at the ill-fated National Golf Centre at Drumoig. Originally an assistant to national coach Ian Rae, he became the junior coach in 2004 and worked with the likes of Michael Stewart, Jordan Findlay, David Law and Ross Kellett.
“I worked under Spencer when I was 16 to 18,” said Kellett, who helped Scotland become European champions in 2009 and now plays on the European Challenge Tour. “I owe a lot to Spencer in getting me to where I am today. He is massively driven and would do anything for any of his players. It’s good to see him returning to Scotland. That can only be good for the game here.”
Following Henderson’s departure five years ago, Neil Marr, the head pro at Meldrum House near Aberdeen was appointed as the SGU’s national under-18 boys’ coach while the late Adam Hunter, who helped Paul Lawrie become an Open champion, took over the under-16 squad.
More recently, Scottish Golf performance manager Steve Paulding introduced a team of coaches around the country, though Gregor Monks, who works with winning Walker Cup team member Ewen Ferguson, is no longer part of that and neither are Kevin Craggs and James Erskine.
“Spencer did well before he left and always had the respect from the boys,” said someone who has had his finger on the pulse in Scottish junior golf for a long time but asked to remain anonymous due to the fact Henderson’s appointment has still to be confirmed.
“He has now built up his experience abroad which will hold him in good stead coming back to Scotland as I am sure he has learned a lot on his travels. It will be good to hopefully work with him again.”
In his first job after leaving Scotland, Henderson was responsible for preparing Turkish teams when the country hosted the men’s and women’s amateur world championships in 2012. Both sides improved by 40 shots on their previous efforts in those events, with the women achieving their best finish in the Espirito Santo Trophy. “I feel I instilled a good work ethic and desire, which was certainly lacking before I took up that post,” reflected Henderson last year. “On a personal level it was great experiencing a new culture, learning a new language and living in a city of 20 million people was a wee bit different from being back in Cupar.”
On the tournament front, Paul McKechnie set the pace in the Paul Lawrie Invitational at Deeside, where the host withdrew due to a hectic upcoming European Tour schedule as well as a trip to Australia, Japan and Korea with Aberdeen Asset Management. Braid Hills-based McKechnie shot a six-under 64 to lead by two shots from a logjam of nine players. After a 69, Laura Murray also leads by two in the separate ladies’ event.
Elsewhere, Neil Fenwick and Neil Henderson are among four joint leaders in the European Tour Qualifying School first stage event at The Roxburghe after signing for four-under 68s.