NEW GLASGOW – Playing one of the world’s most celebrated golf courses and site of the 2014 U.S. Open championships – Pinehurst – is possibly the biggest golf moment for Julia Henderson.
A member of the Gardner-Webb women’s golf team, the New Glasgow native played the Pinehurst Challenge at Pinehurst No. 1 in March. She shot rounds of 76 and 77 for a two-round total of 153, helping her team finish sixth in the 14-team field.
“Pinehurst is like the golf mecca, there is eight courses on it and it’s – I don’t even know – it’s just unbelievable to be on that facility,” she said. “To see it on TV – where the men’s and women’s U.S. Open was – to know that I was there is kind of surreal.”
Henderson was in her first full season with Gardner-Webb after spending one semester there last year. As a team they finished fourth at the NCAA Division 1 Big South Conference championship, which was an accomplishment as they went into the event ranked sixth and competed with three freshmen, one sophomore and a senior. She finished in a tie for 10th.
“There’s definitely a lot of room to improve and get better, but as a team we showed we can be successful and hope to build off of that next year with four of us returning.”
In her first season of eligibility she also picked up her first career college tournament title, winning the Country Club of Spartanburg Spring Invitational in February with a two-day total of 149. For her victory she was also named the Big South Conference women’s golfer of the week, the highlight of her college career so far.
“My short game and putting has definitely seen a big improvement throughout the year,” said Henderson. “Coach Tee Burton is really big on that and he’s been a huge help in getting me to where I am now, but I also know I have a ways to go with it. I’ve also been a lot more consistent this year with ball striking and keeping it in play. To me, that has been what has helped me find success recently.”
She hopes success will continue this summer back in Nova Scotia as she prepares for the NSGA women’s amateur. This year it runs from July 3-5 at Eden Golf and Country Club in Bridgetown.
She returned home in early May and has been on the course nearly every day, but with some bad weather and a stretch away from the game since the conference championship she said there was a little rust.
“It comes back to you pretty quickly and once you play for a little while you get your feel back and you get your sense of where you’re at on the course.”
Today and next week she will travel to the Annapolis Valley for practice rounds, hoping to learn what she will need to adjust in her game to be successful. That ranges from what club she can hit off each tee to finding the places she can’t afford to miss.
“It will definitely be a learning experience, but it will be for everyone because I don’t think anyone is too familiar with it (Eden).”
Two years ago she won the event women’s amateur as a junior, before a third place finish last year. Team Nova Scotia is made up of the top three finishers and will travel to Woodstock, Ont. July 22-25 for the Canadian women’s amateur championship. That is her goal again this year, making the team.
“Obviously you go in with the mindset that you’re going to win every tournament, but I really want to make the team so I can have the chance to go to nationals again,” she said. “I just want to play my game all three days, stay in the moment and take it one shot at a time. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and just see how successful I can be.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris