New Glasgow native excelling at Gardner-Webb
BOILING SPRINGS – Steady improvement and learning from experiences has been important to Julia Henderson’s success this year.
In her first full season with Gardner-Webb’s women’s golf team, Henderson wrapped up the first half of the year with her lowest collegiate round of 73 and had her first top 10 finish in the team’s final two tournaments of 2013.
Related story: Henderson headed south on golf scholarship
Last January was her first semester at the school, where she trained with the team, but didn’t compete so she could keep her eligibility for this season. Henderson did travel to a few tournaments last year to watch, but playing in them for the first time this season has been a special experience.
“It’s just a different kind of competition (from playing in Nova Scotia),” she said. “At home you know everyone you’re playing with, but when we started competing against different schools you don’t know anyone you’re playing against. The adjustment wasn’t too bad; it was just something different to get used to. Watching the girls play in a few last year gave me an idea what to expect and definitely played to my advantage.”
She said most of their tournaments are played on Mondays and Tuesdays, which can be difficult academically. Some are two rounds, while some are 36 holes (three rounds) in two days, which means adjustments both on and off the course.
“With our tournaments on Mondays and Tuesdays I generally miss two days of class, so I have to catch up on class during those weeks,” said Henderson. “Competing on top of school is a lot of time management. I started to figure it out in the first semester this year and towards the end it was smoother sailing.”
The events where the team plays 36 holes in two days, which isn’t all, were an adjustment as players are at the course from sunrise to sundown each day.
“I mean growing up as a kid you go to the course and play all day, so it was kind of like going back to that, but it’s a little more tiring in competition,” she said. “We’re pretty much there all day long, but I love it so much that I can’t complain too much.”
Compared to most tournaments Henderson has played in recent years that were four rounds, now playing two rounds means she can’t have a bad round and bounce back.
“You have to be consistent and you have to make both rounds good to finish well,” she said. “There’s no chance to fall back in the round then have a few rounds to come back. It’s hard to come back if you get down, so you need to stay steady both days to be in a good spot when the tournament is over.”
Academically she has yet to declare a major, but is currently thinking about elementary education. Last year her semester went well and the 2013 fall semester was a success, although it was a learning experience adding golf into the mix full-time.
“You have to make sure you put academics first because you’re a student-athlete, so the student part comes first and the golf second,” said Henderson. “Keeping on top of the workload is important to make sure you’re still eligible to keep playing and be an athlete. Your time at night is for getting your homework done, which I did all through high school, just now I’m competing on top of doing the homework.”
This semester the team is building towards the NCAA Division 1 Big South Conference championship in April. They will use their five tournaments between now and then to improve for the main focus of the second half.
Last semester a highlight event for Henderson was playing Myrtle Beach, while this semester she’s looking forward to the opportunity to play Pinehurst and Charleston.
“Just being with the girls at all the tournaments and seeing courses you wouldn’t see at home was an unreal experience,” she said. “This semester I just want to qualify well and take in the tournaments and experiences again.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris