Wood Becomes Bigger "Fish"
By Michelle Manson
Vanderbilt women's golfer Courtney Wood has watched her career
skyrocket over the past few months. Since July, the Brentwood, Tennessee,
native has transitioned from a pretty competitive player into one of the nation's
Wood made the decision to come back to the Nashville area after
spending her first year of college at Texas Christian University, where she
earned the Western Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Year honors. The
chance to be closer to home prompted Wood's transfer to Vanderbilt.
While playing on the junior tour a few years back, Wood experienced
a good deal of success. Upon her arrival to the college scene, however, she
had to face the trials of adjusting to a more competitive level of golf.
"It took me a couple of years when I played on the junior
tour to really establish myself," Wood said. "When I broke through
and had some success I felt I became one of the better players, but when I
got to college I went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small
fish in a big pond."
After encountering ups and downs during her first season as
a Commodore, Wood began to propel herself into upper-echelon status after
winning the prestigious 72nd Women's Trans National Match Play Championship
in July, her first-ever amateur title.
Wood has done nothing but move forward since her initial win.
She captured the 2002 Tennessee Women's State Open the week following her
Trans National victory. Wood next took top honors at the Mason Rudolph Championship
in September, a performance that earned her GolfWorld's College Player of
the Week award.
Wood believes that first captured title at the Trans National
serves as the catalyst for her string of incredible play.
"It was hard to adjust to college at first," Wood
recalls, "but over the summer I had a really big win at one of the biggest
amateur tournaments in the country. That really boosted my confidence coming
into the year."
A self-proclaimed superstition freak, Wood has some interesting
habits she performs in regards to her golf game. Among her many obsessive
quirks, Wood's most ritualistic have to do with her headgear.
"I'm really bad about certain things," Wood said.
"If I wear a hat one day and play good then I'll have to wear that hat
the next day, but if I played bad then I'll put it in my bag and won't wear
it for the rest of the tournament. That's my biggest superstition. I'm real
big on my hats."
Among the numerous courses she has played since the age of five,
Wood lists Augusta National, home of the Masters Championship, as her favorite.
Every spring, a group of Vanderbilt alumni make a trip to Augusta to play
a round of golf with the top four women and men from each of the school's
two teams. Wood says her experience at the course this past year was one of
the most memorable of her life.
Augusta National has recently been the center of some heated
controversy across the country. In its 70-year history, the course has never
had a female member. While women can play as guests, they are not admitted
as active members. Women's advocacy groups are pushing Augusta's hierarchy
to change its male-only membership policies.
Wood can sympathize with both sides of the debate and admits
the issue is complicated. Ultimately, however, she believes that changing
the policy would in essence change Augusta itself and not necessarily for
"I don't think it's necessarily fair that women aren't
allowed as members," Wood said, "but I think it would take a long
time to implement there because it's always been all-male and it makes the
course different from most other places. To change that all of that sudden
would almost change the greatness of Augusta National. It would take away
some of the prestige of what makes the course what it is."
So what does Wood have in store for life after Vanderbilt? Hopefully
a career on the LPGA tour as distinguished as her collegiate career is fast
becoming. And she doesn't look to be slowing down the pace anytime soon.
"I definitely want to try and play on the tour," Wood
said. "I've dedicated so much time to it that I want to continue. I know
I have the ability to make it so as long as I keep working hard and improving
I'll keep trying for a couple of years. If it gets to where I don't enjoy
it anymore then I may have to do something else but I'd at least like to try."