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ND Women’s Golf: Holt guides Irish to two Big East crowns

Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It was 1982 when the NCAA began sponsoring a women’s golf championship tournament, and 1988 when women’s golf became a varsity sport at Notre Dame. Yet the Irish had not qualified to participate in this championship until last season, under the leadership of Irish coach Susan Holt.

During her six years in the driver’s seat of the golf cart, the Irish have earned two Big East championship crowns, four consecutive regional appearances and 10 tournament titles. This stellar record, along with Notre Dame’s premiere appearance at the NCAA tournament, earned Holt the recognition of the 2011 Big East Coach of the Year.

Yet Holt claimed no credit for this success.

“That award was not due to my work,” Holt said. “The award is a direct reflection of the team’s performance. We had the best season in Notre Dame history last year and it was due to the players and their hard work.”

Holt also gave credit to the University as a whole for drawing talented student-athletes.

“I think the fact that it’s the University of Notre Dame gives parents a reason to send their girls here to play golf and get a great education,” Holt said. “The academic and athletic tradition that this institution has benefits our recruiting efforts.”

In terms of coaching style, Holt said she is a hands-off coach.

“In the long time (22 years) I have been doing this, I have never been accused of over-coaching,” Holt said. “Once the match starts, all the preparation is done and they are out there against the course. At this point, I’m there to support them through the ups and downs emotionally and mentally. I need to keep up their confidence. I feel like I’m a cheerleader.”

When recruiting players, Holt said she looks for a student-athlete, with an emphasis on the academics. In three out of the past four semesters, the team has won the competition for highest GPAs in all varsity athletics at Notre Dame, with a team average of 3.655 during the fall of 2011. Holt said she is a proponent of this University contest.

“When recruiting a player we look for a player who truly loves and appreciates the game, but academics are also at the forefront,” Holt said. “Another thing I look for are athletes who are also golfers. Golf is a mental sport and requires a tough competitive edge and strong mental game. Having a multiple-sport background really gives them a strong sense of competition.”

Holt said the Irish nabbed the best recruiting class for 2012. Lindsey Weaver, from Scottsdale, Ariz., and Talia Campbell from Dallas — ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard as the No. 3 and No. 29 best players in the country — will join the Irish in the fall of 2012.

“We have the number one recruiting class,” Holt said. “Two top players are completely committed to coming here.”

For now though, Holt said the team is focused on preparing for this season’s rough competition in the Big East, particularly Louisville and South Florida.

“In the Big East this year, I think we will face the most competitive championship,” Holt said. “We are prepared though. We had the fall segment and with this good weather, we have actually got to get out on the course already. The team is ready to golf and excited to get out of town to get started.”

The Irish compete in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in Hilton Head, S.C., starting Friday.

 

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu