Former Ichabod hoopster now topping college golf

Matt Resnick

Gary Woodland, University of Kansas senior and Topeka native, currently ranks as one of the top amateur golfers in the country, according to KU men’s golf coach Ross Randall.

Woodland, who averaged six points per game as a back-up point guard for the Washburn men’s basketball team during the 2002-03 season, took a redshirt during Washburn’s golf season in the spring of 2003. This left him with four years of eligibility when he transferred from Washburn to KU and began playing golf for the Jayhawks during the 2003-04 season.

“Playing basketball at Washburn was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” said Woodland. “Coach Chipman and Coach Dickerson treated me awesome and taught me a lot about myself. I believe where I am today, I owe a lot to them. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world.”

Woodland is fresh off his fourth-career victory, winning the Louisiana Classics in Lafayette, La., by three strokes last week. Woodland was also one of 22 players named to the 2007 Hogan watch list prior to the season. The Ben Hogan award is the most prestigious individual award in NCAA men’s golf.

“We’re making strides as a team and individually right now,” said Woodland.

Woodland was a two-sport star at Shawnee Heights high school in Tecumseh. Aside from dominating the city in golf throughout his high school career, he led the Shawnee Heights Thunderbirds basketball team to state titles in 2000 and 2002.

After an enjoyable year at Washburn, Woodland said it was a tough decision for him to leave, but a decision he felt was necessary to advance his golf career.

“I had to re-evaluate what I wanted to do the rest of my life,” said Woodland. “I made the decision to play golf the rest of my life and use it as a career. I thought it was in my best interest to go see what was out there and to pursue my dream.”

After Woodland graduates in May, he will compete in major amateur golf events throughout the summer and he hopes to make the Walker Cup team. The Walker Cup is the most prestigious amateur golf event in the world. It’s held once every two years and matches the top 10 players in America against the top 10 players in Great Britain. The event will be played in Ireland this September. Woodland said the day after that event is complete he will turn professional.

Randall likes Woodland’s chances of making the Walker Cup team later this year. Randall also believes Woodland will be playing in PGA Tour events in the not-too-distant future.

“I think it’s going to happen, he’s got the potential,” said Randall. “I know all the manufacturers are very interested in him. There are lots of agents around that want to jump on that bandwagon. If he keeps continuing to improve the way he has the last four years, I think he’s got a great future. He’s known as probably the longest hitter in NCAA golf.”

Woodland finished the fall season last October ranked as the 15th best player in the country by Golf Week magazine. Woodland still feels he has much to prove before his college career comes to an end.

“My goal is to get better every day,” said Woodland. “Ultimately, if I get better every day, everything will take care of itself, and I’ll set myself up for next year.”