Saint turned winner – the future’s bright for Woad

She could have been a footballing Saint.

However, Surrey’s Lottie Woad has found her sporting heaven on the golf course.

England Girls’ squad member Woad is one of the country’s brightest young talents and spent last week at the National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa with her international team-mates preparing for the 2020 season.

Had she followed a different path then kicking a ball rather than striking one with a club could have been her sporting pathway.

Woad is a talented all-rounder – excelling not only at golf, but football and cricket.

At one point she could have chosen to pursue a route into football as a member of Southampton’s academy.

But by then Woad had picked up the golfing bug and she’s never looked back.

Woad has enjoyed an impressive debut year in the England set-up. She gained experience in team events at the European Young Masters in the Czech Republic and represented England in challenge matches against Switzerland and Ireland.

Football’s loss is most definitely England Golf’s gain.

“I started playing county stuff when I was nine or 10 and, gradually, I started to focus a lot more on golf ahead of my other sports,” admitted the 15-year-old during a break in sessions at the England camp.

“Over time I got my handicap down and started playing for teams and I’ve met loads of new people and have just kept improving.

“I used to play lots of other sports, but I have to prioritise golf now.

“Now I maybe play a couple of football matches a year – just the cup ones – and the team understands that.

“Luckily, I have good hand eye co-ordination for most sports.

“I was good at football and cricket and I still play them to a high standard even if I don’t practise them. I’m naturally quite decent at them.

“I could have gone down a football route. I played for the Southampton academy when I was 12 but I also played golf and then I decided to go down the golf path more and more.

“I preferred golf and carried on.

“My dad encouraged me and now my younger sister plays. My dad played a lot but he doesn’t do it so much now as he’s busy taking me everywhere!

“I play at Farnham Golf Club and have always been a member there- it’s really nice.”

As well as playing in junior events, Woad represented Surrey at the 2019 Women’s County Finals staged at Delamere Forest GC.

But it’s on a national stage that the Surrey youngster is keen to impress.

She added: “2019 was the first year I played for England. I went to the European Young Masters which was great as it allowed to me play competitive golf abroad for the first time.

“I also played against Switzerland and we won and then I played against Ireland and that was a really good course at Hunstanton – just a pity we got drenched!

“I also played in lots of ladies’ events on really nice courses such as Sunningdale and the Berkshire.

“It was good experience and step up for me.

“Finishing sixth at the European Young Masters was the highlight. I shot two good rounds of three under and one under.

“It was a new experience for me being away from my parents and playing in a team format.

“I’d never been to the Czech Republic and I enjoyed that too.”

Now the focus is on 2020. Sessions on the range with England coach Mark Day, on-course tips from head of performance Nigel Edwards and classroom sessions on the mental side of the game are all part of the England Golf experience for the girls’ squad.

Woad has a big year ahead of her with GCSEs on the horizon, but she is also excited about what her future holds in golf.

“My school has been good giving me time off too for my golf, but with GCSE’s I might not have as much time off this year,” added Woad.

“I didn’t play in the British Girls’ championship  last year because I couldn’t make it and that’s a big one for me in 2020.

“I want to play Home Internationals and get selected for other teams and help England get good results.

“I follow both Men’s and Ladies’ tours – I like Georgia Hall  and Charley Hull for how they played at the Solheim Cup. They are both inspiring.

“Justin Rose is another I follow. He’s always been my favourite golfer because of how he swings the club and I like how he talks off the course. He’s really good.

“The ultimate aim is to be a professional – I’ll work hard and see what happens.”

Surrey has produced some excellent women golfers over the years – none moreso than Dame Laura Davies.

“I met Laura when I was much younger,” added Woad.

“They picked younger people to have a lesson with her when I was aged eight.

“I remember it quite well and she gave me lots of tips. I don’t think my swing was very good back then!”

Now playing off plus one, it has clearly improved. And there are plenty of exciting times ahead for one of England’s rising stars.

Photograph credit: Leaderboard