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Men’s Golf

Handrigan prepares to rebuild program in first head coaching job

| Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Irish head coach John Handrigan is a native of Bracebridge, Ontario, and he moved to the United States in 1996 to attend St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. As a member of the golf team, he lettered all four years and was named a captain his junior and senior years. He also earned the St. Francis “Male Student-Athlete of the Year” award following his final season.

Irish senior Thomas Steve hits a tee shot during the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Sept. 3 at Warren Golf Course. Steve finished in a tie for fourth at the event, shooting a 3-under-par 138.Observer File Photo

Irish senior Thomas Steve hits a tee shot during the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Sept. 3 at Warren Golf Course. Steve finished in a tie for fourth at the event, shooting a 3-under-par 138.

Upon graduation, Coach Handrigan secured a position as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater. He then took on the head coaching position at Coker College, a Division II school in South Carolina, where he led the team to four consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and a National Championship and conference championship in 2006. His next opportunity was as head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. There he received the honor of women’s conference Coach of the Year in 2009. Later that year, he took the assistant coaching job at the University of Kansas. He has spent the past six years at University of Florida, five of them as assistant coach and the 2016-2017 season as the Gators’ associate head coach, before accepting the head coaching job at Notre Dame this summer.

Handrigan said his time at Notre Dame so far has lived up to his expectations, especially in the wake of the death of his father.

“It has been outstanding. You always hear about Notre Dame and the family atmosphere and it definitely lives up to that reputation,” Handrigan said. “My father passed away just recently and the support I had from the Notre Dame community was truly special. It was overwhelming in a positive way and I am very appreciative of that.”

Handrigan said the main draw of him choosing to come to Notre Dame was the support it provides its students and the sense of family and community it possesses.

“I did choose Notre Dame as they chose me and after reviewing my options and looking at other universities, the main reason I chose Notre Dame was the international brand and the reputation that Notre Dame has for all the support it provides, not only for its athletes, but for the school population,” Handrigan said. “Also, the family atmosphere was high on my wife’s priorities for the institution we chose and Notre Dame was definitely at the top of the list for that aspect.”

Handrigan has a clear vision for the future of the golf program and the changes he would like to bring about, but most importantly, he wants to focus on the importance of both developing the skills of current team members while simultaneously recruiting solid talent.

“I will bring a culture change regarding the team atmosphere and the way we go about practice will be a lot more structured,” Handrigan said. “One of my strengths is the recruiting aspect and my goal would be to bring some of the top players in the country to Notre Dame golf. The number one thing, however, is to develop the current players that we have. We have a great group of guys who are very talented and my job is to develop those guys to be nationally ranked players.”

Handrigan also reflected on the fact that, after 89 years of men’s golf at Notre Dame, he is only the seventh head coach of the program.

“It just shows how special this opportunity is,” Handrigan said. “I’ve always heard there’s great tradition here and great programs, but when you hear you’re only the seventh coach, it’s obviously an honor. It’s very special, it really is.”

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