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When the unthinkable happens: Port Williams golfer switches schools after golf program slashed

Meghan McLean chips a shot onto the 13th green at her home course,the Ken-Wo Golf Club. McLean, a two-time provincial junior girls’ champion, will be in the field at this week’s NSGA women’s amateur championship in Truro. (GLENN MACDONALD / The Chronicle Herald)
Meghan McLean chips a shot onto the 13th green at her home course,the Ken-Wo Golf Club. McLean, a two-time provincial junior girls’ champion, will be in the field at this week’s NSGA women’s amateur championship in Truro. (GLENN MACDONALD / The Chronicle Herald) - Contributed

Whirlwind season for Meghan McLean

NEW MINAS, NS - To say Meghan McLean’s year in golf was interesting would be an understatement.

After a successful summer of 2017, which included a Nova Scotia junior girls’ championship, the young Port Williams woman ventured to play NCAA Division 1 golf at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn., where she had a four-year, full scholarship.

“It was really good; I really enjoyed it,” McLean, a biology student, said of her freshman season. “Me and my team got along really well and the school went well and the golf went well. It was a lot of fun.”

At Central Connecticut, she was named to the Northeast Conference second team. During her rookie campaign, McLean finished in the top 20 in eight tournaments, including three in the top 10.

She completed her year with a 12th-place finish at the NEC championships and posted a 79.75 stroke average for the season.

“I really enjoyed the competitiveness of college golf,” McLean, 19, said. “It was huge to get second-team all-conference. It wasn’t something that I expected but it was something I was working towards so getting it felt really good and I’m super proud of myself.”

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Then the unthinkable happened. In January, Central Connecticut announced that it would eliminate the men’s and women’s golf programs at season’s end.

The university also eliminated 35.5 athletic scholarships among its remaining 16 Division 1 sports teams in an effort to save money at the state-funded school. It was part of a $4.5-million budget cut.

“When the school saw its budget cut, unfortunately they decided to eliminate the men’s and women’s golf teams,” McLean said. “It’s sad that we had everything taken away from us. It’s sad that I have to leave my team back at Central Connecticut but I’m excited for the new beginning.”

Move to Florida

That new beginning will be in Florida this fall. The four freshmen on the Central Connecticut women’s golf team each will transfer to new schools and new teams. McLean will join Stetson University, home of the Hatters, in DeLand, Florida.

“I’m very excited about the warmer weather,” said McLean. “I don’t have a lot of summer clothes so I’m definitely going have to invest.”

A bonus? She won’t have to redshirt her first season at Stetson.

“My former coach helped us so much in helping find us a new school. She did a great job in talking to the coaches and recommending schools,” McLean added.

“It came down to Stetson and Lamar University (in Beaumont, Texas). I didn’t think Texas was for me and I really liked the school in Florida. The academics for biology was amazing, it’s in a great location and the golf team is really good. I think it’s a good fit for me. It’s a beautiful campus with palm trees everywhere, so it was hard to say no.”

Before she flies south, McLean has a busy summer schedule on the links. Lately, she’s been practising for the three-round NSGA women’s amateur championship, which begins June 6 at the Truro Golf Club.

McLean, who didn’t play in last year’s women’s amateur, will be paired with defending champion Allison Chandler of Chester. Each are two-time NSGA junior girls’ champions. They will tee off at 8 a.m. along with last year’s runner-up, Cristal Fitzpatrick of Grandview.

“I feel like my game is getting back together in time for the Nova Scotia amateur,” McLean said.

“I took about two weeks off just to re-energize. The spring season was very intense so I felt like I needed a bit of a break to just relax.

“There are so many great players who have played in the amateur and have gone on to do great things,” added McLean, who hadn’t played Truro until this week.

“It would be great to make that list while playing and competing in the sport I love. It would be an honour to be one of those people.”

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