Gianna Misenhelter, contributing writer
Three years ago, Daniel Wood, education major and redshirt junior on the men’s golf team, left his teammates, friends and family to go on a two-year mission trip in the Dominican Republic.
While going through the recruiting process for college, Wood’s plan was to play golf for two years, go on his church mission, then return to finish school and his golf eligibility. Through the process, many schools did not comply with Wood’s plan, but Tim Norris, head coach of the K-State men’s golf team, gladly welcomed him as a member of the team.
“I understood how important it was to him and I knew that, being such a hard worker, his game would come back to him in a short period of time,” Norris said.
In his first two years as a part of the K-State golf team, Wood and the team were successful.
“We had a lot of camaraderie, we were good, we went to regionals, we did things that we were supposed to do and I missed that once I left that,” Wood said. “But at the same time I knew that the mission was something that was important to me at that point in my life.”
During his mission trip, Wood and fellow missionaries taught people in the Dominican Republic about Christian and Mormon beliefs.
After his two years, Wood returned to his home in Austin and spent about 72 hours with his family before heading back to Manhattan. During his time in Austin, he went with his dad and younger brother to a nearby golf course. It was his first time back on the golf course in two years.
“The golf ball looked a lot smaller than I remembered it,” Wood said.
That day on the golf course was challenging for Wood, and he hit a lot of errant shots. Prior to his mission trip, the course he played with his dad and brother was very easy to him; he used to shoot scores in the 60s, but that first day back he said he shot around an 82.
Wood returned to Manhattan after his short visit with his family and met up with his friends and teammates, who welcomed him with open arms. Within the first few days back, he practiced and could not wait to get back on the links at Colbert Hills Golf Course.
“I’ve never had so much fun shooting in the 80s my whole life,” Wood said with a laugh. “It was cool after walking in the streets of a third-world country for two years, then go to a beautiful golf course and play golf — it was the coolest experience ever because it was night and day from what I had been living.”
Last year, during Wood’s redshirt year, he logged numerous hours of practice at Colbert Hills with the help of coach Norris and his teammates. Now he is back in action, competing in the Wildcat lineup this season. He credits the mission for his new outlook on life, especially golf.
“The mission helped me build a lot of qualities that I previously could not have conceived me having,” Wood said. “Golf is a game now, it used to be my life. I love it, I enjoy it, I’m real about it.”
Those new qualities propelled him to a second place finish this season at the Jim Colbert Intercollegiate hosted at Colbert Hills Oct. 1-2.
As for school after life in the Dominican Republic, Wood said that all the sacrifices he made for two years, such as going without a cell phone, laptop, electricity and sometimes running water, have helped him with his schoolwork.
“Now coming back to school, I’m able to say, you know, I have a big assignment due tonight,” Wood said. “I’m going to turn the TV off, I’m going to go to the library and leave my cell phone at home, I’m going to have this short-term sacrifice so I can get the job done. I’m better at getting the job done now.”
Editor’s Note: This article was completed as an assignment for a class in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.