Having worked in both Turkey and Azerbaijan, news of Spencer Henderson taking up a new post in Aberdeen shouldn’t necessarily cause eyebrows to be raised. Add in that his new boss is Paul Lawrie, though, and also the fact he’s combining it with his current role at Scottish Golf and it’s certainly an interesting development.
Falkirk-born Henderson has joined the coaching team at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, describing it as an “exciting opportunity to work with a Scottish golf legend at a fantastic facility”. He starts next month and will be coaching players of all ages and abilities.
Henderson will be doing the job in tandem with his role as Scottish national boys’ coach, having been part-time in that post since he returned from helping talented golfers develop in Azerbaijan and Turkey to take it up for a second time.
“My role with Scottish Golf at the moment isn’t full-time, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do something else and I will be up at the centre in Aberdeen three or four days a week while continuing to do what I do for Scottish Golf,” Henderson said.
“It’s great facility with a brilliant par-3 course that isn’t just good for beginners and kids but is also a good test for any level of player. There’s three teaching studios plus a Trackman and I’m chuffed to be joining the team. I will be a general coach to anybody.”
In his first spell as national junior coach, Henderson worked with the likes of David Law and Calum Hill, both of whom have recorded Challenge Tour wins this season. He had just linked up again with Hill when he embarked on a five-event run that culminated with him winning the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle on Sunday.
“Calum was in an Academy group along with Bradley Neil, Lauren Whyte and Josh Jamieson when I first came across him a few years back,” recalled Henderson. “He got in touch before playing in the US Open earlier this year and we had a chat on Facetime. We did a practice round together before the Scottish Open qualifier at Longniddry and it was magic to see him win on the Challenge Tour at the weekend.
“He’s always had a great attitude. He’s a really nice down-to-earth kid. He is really confident and knows where he wants to go in the game.”
Henderson returned to work at grassroots level in Scotland just before Scottish Golf, the unified national body, was set up. In a short time, he’s worked for three different performance directors, with former LET player Clare Queen having recently been appointed in that role by the new chief executive, Andrew McKinlay.
“It’s obviously changed a fair bit,” said Henderson. “It’s changed massively with the amalgamation as well. I’ve loved being back, though, and working with the next batch of kids coming through, the likes of Aidan O’Hagan and Ruben Lindsay.
“It’s different to when I was first involved eight or so years ago. More of these kids have their own coaches whereas 10-12 years ago that wasn’t the case. I think the national training programme is changing massively in that respect.
“National coaching is less about technical coaching these days. We’ve had the likes of Liam Johnston, Connor Syme and Grant Forrest come in over the winter time and speak to the boys about their experiences. We also had Bradley Neil up at the Home Internationals to pass on some advice. They are giving back, which is brilliant.”
Henderson is the first to admit that this year’s results have not been up to scratch. Scotland finished last of 16 teams in the European Boys’ Team Championship in the Czech Republic and needed a final-day win over Wales to avoid the wooden spoon in the recent Boys’ Home Internationals at Royal Dornoch.
“It has always been cyclical, though,” he insisted. “For bigger countries like England it’s a bit easier, but I think we lost five or six from the top 200 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings last year, which is a lot.
“You’ve got to do the best with what you’ve got. The way I look at it with these 14-year-olds is that it is almost like an Olympic cycle. You’ve got four years to get these kids prepared to try and win a European Team Championship or Home Internationals.
“You’ve got to be patient with guys like Sandy Scott, Jamie Stewart, Rory Franssen. I coach Callum Bruce and he’s done well out in the States. It’s a marathon and I think we will get there with them. It might just take a bit longer.”