It’s a fickle old pursuit this golf lark. Cursing, sighing laments of what-ifs and if-onlys are par for the course in this game as all and sundry, from the world’s best exponents to the most enthusiastic of incompetents, mull over the ones that got away.

A couple of years ago, Scott Henderson, that well-kent Aberdonian who endures like a clump of granite, had a putt of three-feet to get into a play-off at the Legends Tour qualifying school final and give himself a chance of a potentially lucrative spot on the over-50s circuit. Alas, he missed.

“If I’d holed that, then maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation now, but that’s how brutal it is,” he said. And he’s talking about the ruthless, fine margins of golf here, not the wretchedness of having to have a conversation with this correspondent. “One shot costs you another year of your golfing life,” he added.

The reason for this latest conversation, of course, is that Henderson is back at the q-school shoot-out in Turkey. At the start of the week, the 54-year-old eased through stage one of the process.

It wasn’t the toughest examination Henderson has ever faced, mind you. “I think 61 players entered and 41 got through, it was almost pointless,” he said of the 36-hole preliminary phase.

In stark contrast, however, this weekend’s 72-hole final provides the kind of formidable test that would make the Master Sommelier Diploma exam look like the two-times table. Only five players, from a field of 72, will earn a ticket to the golden oldies circuit.

Having watched auld muckers like Euan McIntosh and Greig Hutcheon qualify and thrive in recent seasons, Henderson is desperate to join them on the Legends Tour.

As he clambers the brae on the age front, the Tartan Tour stalwart has not lost his drive or belief, despite the game’s unyielding ability to tease and torment. Golf, as we all know, can be a hard habit to break.

“In other sports, you’re finished well before 50 and you go and do something else,” he said. “But golf keeps you hanging on and thinking ‘what if, what if?’ Before you know it, you’re up your 50s. Making a living in this game is hard if you’re not on one of the main tours. You have to make hay while the sun shines because the sun goes down quickly.

“If I’d stopped doing what I do and applied the amount of effort I’ve put into this game to something else I’d probably have a great business going. But it’s hard to turn your back on golf. And I will only do that when I think I don’t have it anymore. I’m realistic.

"But playing alongside some of the senior boys, I still feel I can do it. If I got my tour card, I’d be committed and playing week in, week out. I know I’d be good enough but it’s just getting that opportunity.”

Many moons ago, Henderson, who started his working life as an engineer in the oil industry before turning pro at 22, was a leading light of Scottish golf.

In 1997, he won the rookie of the year award on the European Tour – now the DP World Tour – after a fine debut season that was illuminated by a second-place finish in the European Masters.

“In those days, a win in that event got you a five-year exemption,” he said as he reflected on his brush with glory. “It was another case of so close but yet so far.”

Henderson finished 41st on the order of merit in that first year on tour and 68th the following season. In 1999, as his fellow Aberdonian Paul Lawrie was winning The Open, Henderson was slithering into the wilderness.

“I just went through some coaching changes but it didn’t work out and it was a slippery slope from there,” he said. “If I hadn’t changed things and just figured it out myself I might have been ok. But those are the choices we make as golfers.

"We’re all trying to get better but in my case it went the other way. I put my faith in what I was being told in the hope it would make me better but it didn’t. I hold no grudges. Loads of golfers will have been through that.”

Here in 2024, opportunity continues to knock for Henderson. “We’re still bashing on,” the veteran chuckled.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.