By Delayna Irvin
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Dedication is one of the major key ingredients to being a successful golf player. For Kansas State redshirt junior, Daniel Wood, his dedication to his Mormon faith comes first.
“It is expected that young men in the church serve two-year missions to wherever they are needed in the world,” explains Wood.
Wood graduated from Vista Ridge High School in Leander, Texas, in the spring 2007 and enrolled at K-State as a golf student-athlete the following fall.
In Wood’s rookie season, he managed to finish with a 74.95 stroke average to rank fifth-best amongst his teammates to go with pair of top-10 finishes, and joined the K-State scoring lineup for the Wolfpack Classic. Carrying over to his sophomore season, Wood lowered his stroke average to 74.83 and carded his season best three-round score of 9-over par 225 at the Cardinal Classic, tying for 56th place.
After two years of playing golf at K-State, it was time for Wood to fulfill his religious duty.
“I went on my mission to the Dominican Republic and didn’t even think about golf for those 24 months,” Wood says. “The mission was a dramatic change in the way I lived.”
While in the Dominican Republic, Wood was challenged to adjust from his life as a Big 12 student-athlete, to living humbly as the Dominican Republic citizens live. This meant going without electricity, not always having water, no air conditioned houses, and several other things a typical American has the luxury of enjoying.
“That ended up being a tremendous opportunity for me. Only through that experience was I able to truly make an informed decision as to the order in which academics, athletics, and my faith belong on my list of priorities,” says Wood of his experience.
After completing his mission trip, Wood rejoined the K-State golf team in 2011 as a redshirt junior.
Since returning to course in this 2012-13 season, Wood has competed in all 11 events and has a two top-20 finishes on the year. He has also helped K-State to a big win at the 2012 Pacific Invitational to close out the fall season.
Accompanying his golf accomplishments for the fall season, he has also been named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team, having the highest GPA among all honorees.
“I was surprised that I had earned that distinction, but I am honestly honored,” explains Wood. “My academics are something I take a lot of pride in, and I am not solely responsible for my achievements. It is rather the people who have helped me in the classroom and on the course. You could say they are all co-recipients of this award.”
As a social science major and a player on the school’s golf team, balance is something Wood claims to be “unattainable,” but he tries his best to meet all requirements presented before him both in the classroom and on the course.
“While I am in Manhattan, I spend most of my time in the library. On the road I find down time in airports, or if we have time in the hotel, I might unplug the TV,” Wood states.
It is discipline that keeps him on track.
Originally, Wood’s plan was to be a secondary education major in hopes of becoming a high school teacher and possible golf coach. He states that since entering college, his interests have shifted, and he is now pursuing a career in athletic administration.
This May, Wood will earn a degree in social sciences. Following graduation, he will enter into his last year of eligibility on the golf course, while starting his master’s degree in athletic administration.
This upcoming school year, Wood hopes to fill the shoes of two seniors who will be leaving after this spring season.
“If I can fill their shoes, that will be a lofty, yet attainable goal for me,” Wood says.
Wood’s father is the one who sparked his passion for this game. Wood’s career began at age seven while living in a small town that was home to a nine-hole golf course.
“My dad bought me a set of clubs and he’d take me to that nine-hole course after he got off work in the evenings. What he knew got me through about a year and a half of playing golf, and after that I pretty much had it all figured out on my own and taught myself,” Wood says, jokingly.
Growing up, Wood played a lot of sports, but his favorites were baseball and golf. In eighth grade, he decided those two different swings just did not mix well. He decided he’d stick with golf.
“I guess I just had a knack for the game,” says Wood.