Fore! Watch out for UVic golf prodigy Megan Woodland

Sports | Lifestyle

The UVic women’s varsity golf team has enjoyed great success on the links this season, including a team win in the 2012 Vikes Shootout. A major reason for this has been the play of fourth-year student Megan Woodland, who is fresh off a third-place finish at the 2013 Lady Cougar Invitational, and before that, a win at the Super San Diego Championship.

“I started golfing when I was really little,” Woodland says of her early days with the sport. “My dad golfed since he was 10 years old, so he really got me into it.”

However, it took a while for Woodland to embrace the game. “I actually really didn’t like it until I was about 12. I started golfing a lot then and fell in love with the sport and played since,” she says.

Woodland went on to play golf at Claremont Secondary School in Victoria. She was a part of the Claremont Sports Institute, which allowed her to hone her golf skills while attending school.

A combination of athletic and academic reputation put UVic at the top of Woodland’s university list. She also wanted to stay close to home. “I grew up knowing quite a bit about the golf program, knew that it was an awesome program and that I’d have a lot of opportunities to travel down to the States and compete at a really high level,” she says.

Some of Woodland’s greatest golf achievements occurred last year. Woodland emerged as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national individual champion in May of 2012 after shooting even par to beat out the 92-woman field at the NAIA Women’s Championships at Lake Hills Country Club in Greeneville, Tennessee.

“The competition was pretty tough,” Woodland says of the tournament. “I ended up playing really well and ended up winning. I didn’t expect it going in, so that was really cool.”

Woodland was also honoured with the prestigious Vikes Female Athlete of the Year award for her efforts in the sport in 2012. “When I found out I was nominated, I was kind of surprised,” she says. “I had a good year, but you don’t always think that golf gets considered to be quite as high of a sport as the other ones.”

While Woodland’s athletic achievements stand on their own, the award was a crowning moment for her university golf career. “It was amazing. The people I was up against are unbelievable athletes, so it meant a lot to know that I got that award.”

Woodland has followed up her banner year with a strong showing in the 2012–13 golf season. She helped lead UVic to victory in the Vikes Shootout from Oct. 21–23, co-leading the 37-woman pack with a score of four over par after two rounds. Woodland would fall to Concordia’s Sunny Powers in a playoff for the individual title, but along with her teammates had already done enough to secure the team title for the Vikes.

Woodland was victorious again last month at the Super San Diego Championship at Point Loma Nazarene University from Feb. 11–12. Here, she beat out a field of 109 women to emerge victorious with a five over par.

Woodland was happy to start off 2013 on a winning note. “It was the first tournament of our season this semester, and I wanted to start off on a good foot and keep the run from last year going. It was nice that I was able to continue that and get a win in there,” she says.

Woodland was back in California two weeks later for the 2013 Lady Cougar Invitational, hosted by California State San Marcos. Over three days from Feb. 24–26, Woodland shot five over par. This was good for third overall and only one stroke behind the co-winners.

The adage “practice makes perfect” applies to Woodland. “I try to practise probably six days a week. It really depends on how much school work I have, but I try to do something every day that’s worthwhile,” says Woodland.

A busy athletic schedule means there’s not always as much time as Woodland would like to devote to her studies. Still, she has found ways to manage her busy athletic and academic schedules in order to do well in both.

“It’s a lot of time in the library, and a lot of studying on trips, writing assignments on planes and all that. You find time to do it,” she says.

Woodland and the Vikes still have several tournaments left this season, including the upcoming Battle at Primm, hosted by Grandview University in Primm, Nevada, from March 24–26. Woodland is excited for her chances there, as well as those of the Vikes.

“I love that golf course. Last year, I tied for first, and the year before I came in second, so that golf course has done really well for me,” she says.

Woodland and the Vikes will also feature in a series of high-profile tournaments, starting with the regional championships in Houston, Texas, from April 29–30. Two weeks later, from May 14–17, Woodland will seek to defend her NAIA title at the nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska. Capping off the 2013 season will be the Canadian University/College Championships from May 28–30.

“It should be really fun heading to all of them, and hopefully the girls all play really well,” says Woodland of the upcoming tournaments.

Woodland will be back next season to finish her degree. However, unlike the five-year athletic eligibility offered by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), the NAIA only offers four years of eligibility to its student athletes. This means during the 2013–14 season, the fifth-year Woodland will only be able to compete in the year-end Canadian University/College Championships run by CIS, as all other tournaments UVic participates in are NAIA sanctioned.

After graduating, Woodland is looking to continue her already impressive golf career. “Hopefully it will play a pretty big role after I graduate,” she says. “I’d like to take a few years off from school and just practise and play and see where my game can go. If it gets up to a high enough level, then [I’ll] try out playing in some bigger tournaments.”