Tuesday, November 17

Q&A: Washington and Lee’s Matt Langan

Editor’s note: Matt Langan plays on the men’s golf team at Washington and Lee University located in Lexington, Virginia. The Generals play in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) against teams such as Guilford College, Randolph-Macon, Bridgewater, Hampden-Sydney and Roanoke College. I hope you enjoy this slice of college golf with Matt. 

Q: How did golf hook you?

Matt: I grew up playing just about every sport competitively—basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, golf, football—so the fact that I ended up just focusing on golf definitely meant that somewhere along the line I must have gotten really hooked. My grandfather introduced me to the game when I was an eight-year-old, and I fell in love with it because I associated the game with the fantastic opportunity to play his beautiful home course—Big Spring Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky—and to spend the afternoon with him. After being introduced to the game, I became addicted to it. My mom would drop me off on a typical summer morning around 10 and I wouldn’t call her to pick me up until the sun went down. I really love the individual aspect of the game. Once I started playing in junior events, I loved how my success or failure fell entirely on me. 

Q. How did you choose Washington and Lee University?

Matt: I applied to nine schools. I knew I wanted to play golf, but my main priority was to go for the sure thing: a great education. I’ve been blessed with great parents who always emphasized the importance of doing well in school. I was originally introduced to W&L by my dad’s golf friends who attended the university, and spoke very highly of it. W&L was one of many schools that I looked at when I took a trip along the East Coast to browse those that fulfilled the characteristics I wanted the college to have: medium to small in size with solid academics, in a relatively warm climate, and with a beautiful campus. Playing golf was a huge bonus, and the success I had on the golf course in high school helped me with the admissions process because I was one of the team’s top recruits. 

Q: How is the golf team doing?

Matt: Overall, I would say the golf team is doing well, but I know we haven’t reached our potential. This year, of the top five players who travel, three or four of them are seniors, so we aren’t lacking in experience, patience, or skill. Our spring season—the one that really matters—will be dependent on how well the seniors (including myself) are able to focus on golf amidst the pressures of finding a job, applying for graduate schools, and/or wanting to soak up the last available bit of the college lifestyle. 

Q. What is your home course and where else do you like to play?

Matt: I am from Prospect, Kentucky, which is just outside of Louisville. When I started playing the game, I spent it on a local public links course that was only a half mile from my home called Nevel Meade Golf Course. Once my parents realized my addiction to the game wasn’t a fly-by-night thing, we became members of Harmony Landing Country Club. We’ve been members there since I was eleven or twelve, and it kills me to think that I won’t be a playing member there upon graduating. Getting the chance to become a member myself is actually one of my greatest motivators to be successful soon after graduating. 

Q: How do you prepare for a new golf season?

Matt: Recently, it’s been tough to dedicate as much time to preparing for an upcoming season as I would like to, because of summer jobs and internships. As a result, I’ve really had to make the most out of the time that I do have. I know it sounds trite, but it’s all about the short game. I will spend a couple of hours chipping and putting (although mostly chipping), in the weeks leading up to the season, because I’ve found that this is the part of my game that sneaks away from me the fastest. I do a pretty good job of staying in good physical shape, because I work out a few times a week and eat properly. This isn’t something I see as preparation for a new season, as it is an obligation I think we all have for living a happy and healthy life. 

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your golf game?

Matt: My strength has always been putting. I am just able to see the lines easily, and it’s just a matter of trusting them that decides whether the day on the green will be OK or great. My weakness must be my mid-iron play. I have a difficult time sticking iron shots to within 10 feet or less, so getting on birdie streaks or shooting especially low rounds has always been a struggle for me. 

Q: What is it like competing at the collegiate level?

Matt: It’s great, although being a student-athlete is definitely difficult at times. As a Division III student-athlete, my priorities must still be geared towards academics, because we don’t really have the aspirations to go pro. However, our coaches expect us to put in as much time on the course as a Division I player, so there really aren’t any corners that are being cut. I’ve pulled my fair share of all-nighters to catch up on work I’ve missed as a result of being out of town for three or four days, but it’s entirely worth it. One thing I love about being a college golfer is the ability to get off campus and see new places and people—it’s like going on vacations all the time. 

Q: What are your plans after you graduate?

Matt: I plan on working for a year or two and then attending graduate school in business. Finding the job is going to be more difficult than finding the business school, so my plans could flip come this May, depending on how things play out. I would really like to fit in some travel throughout Europe somewhere in there too, because one of my greatest regrets as a college student is not studying abroad—something that’s not really an option for a golfer. 

Most trusted club in your bag: Putter
Favorite golf course: The sentimental answer: my home course, Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen, Kentucky. My favorite design: The Homestead’s Cascades Course.
Favorite sport other than golf: A tie between basketball and cycling.
Dream foursome: My dad and both of my grandfathers (one of which I never had the opportunity to play golf with). 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Washington and Lee)

1 comment:

Lancer said...

Great interview and post. He seems to have a level head on his shoulders and realistic expectations of carrying his game beyond the Division III level. Golf, unfortunately, is not that big a deal in most schools even at the Division I level. I wish him well.