CEDAR RAPIDS — Megan Furnish can compete with the best golfers.
The Cedar Rapids Jefferson sophomore proved that well before she swung a club for the J-Hawk varsity team.
Last summer, Furnish showed her potential and she’s continued her solid play in competition during her first season of varsity competition.
“It’s been really fun so far,” Furnish said. “My game’s been pretty good. It’s had its ups and downs, but it’s a good learning experience.”
The ups have outnumbered the downs. She’s contended for medalist honors in almost every event, capturing the top prize four times. She’s been a runner-up medalist three times and finished third at the CRANDIC meet.
Her most recent victory has been her biggest. She shot an 80 to win the MVC Super Meet at The Meadows in Dubuque.
“She played well,” Jefferson Coach Dan Ray said. “She’s a smart golfer. She’s learning course management.”
Furnish is open to suggestions to improve, a willingness Ray says separates the great athletes from the average.
“She’s goal-oriented,” Ray said. “She’s a nice athlete to coach.”
Her first varsity season opened with a boost of confidence. Furnish carded a 38, winning the Jefferson quad by four strokes at Jones Golf Course.
“It was a really good competition,” said Furnish, who had to play junior varsity as a freshman due to open-enrollment rules. “I just kept my head in it and tried to focus on the game. After it was over, think about other meets and try to get better and improve and help the team improve.”
This season’s success is an extension of performances last summer. Furnish, just 15 then, was the runner-up in the 2009 Women’s City Amateur, battling a 36-player field including players in college and older. She also was second in points for Iowa Junior PGA tour events.
Her father, Craig, served as her caddie and watched as she posted a 157, including a 75 in the final round at Ellis Golf Course and tying the low round for the second day.
“I just focused on the next shot,” Furnish said. “I really didn’t care about the results until I finished.”
That mindset is in play each meet. Her attention is directed to her game and the immediate swing.
“There are a lot of good girls out there that can shoot a good score,” Furnish said. “You worry about your own score and what’s going on for your next shot.”
In the City Am, Craig was proud of how she competed, but gained appreciation for her approach to the game.
“She puts a lot of things we talked about and what her pro told her into play during competition,” Craig Furnish said. “It’s nice to see … and she applies them to her game.”
Off-season conditioning benefitted her distance, but her strength is the short game. She makes a habit of getting close on her approach with a trusty 56-degree wedge.
“It’s a good scoring opportunity,” Furnish said. “When you get up to 100 yards, you just feel it and hit it.”
More than once, Furnish referenced a helpful support group, including Jefferson girls junior varsity and head boys golf coach Steve Koepke, golf pro Matt Erger, who has worked with her since she started, and her dad, who draws out courses for her.
“When we have a lesson and we’re working on a particular topic, by the time she comes back for the next lesson she’s worked on it enough by herself and so hard by practice that she’s fixed that problem,” said Erger. “She works at it really hard.”
Erger, her caddie for the 2009 United States Golf Association Links U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links qualifier at Ellis, said that tournament showed she was nearly on par with college golfer.
“She’s tournament ready,” Erger said. “I think she knows from competing with some of those other girls she can hold her own.”
The thing that just might define her is her work ethic, especially with all of the time and effort devoted to golf in the off-season.
“She takes pride in what she does,” Ray said. “She works hard on and off the course. No matter what it is she wants to be the best.”
Furnish appears to have mastered the art of balancing work, school and the dedication demanded to do both well.
Not only is Furnish among the best in the Metro and Iowa City area, she also is accomplished in the classroom, owning a grade-point average better than 3.70.
Spring golf presents a bigger challenge for most because of all the classes missed during meets. Responsibility, hard work, dedication and time management are consistent traits in her endeavors.
“What’s true in athletics about a person in athletics is an extension of their personal life,” Furnish said. “They seem pretty cohesive in how she conducts her business in both arenas.”
She also juggles her competitive nature with simply enjoying the game.
“I always try to go out there and win but I also try to have fun at the same time,” Furnish said. “If it doesn’t happen, I still had fun being with the other girls.”
Don’t be deceived. She’s hungry to be one of the best.
“I love to make it to state,” Furnish said. “I’d love to finish in the top five at state and have fun and be able to play with all these girls who are really good and compete with them.”