Armstrong leads Irish into new season
Andrew Robinson | Wednesday, September 3, 2014
After three seasons as a standout performer, senior captain Ashley Armstrong has fully assumed a veteran leadership position on the young Irish squad — and Irish coach Susan Holt has high expectations for the upcoming season, both for Armstrong and for the team.
“Ashley has been a leader on this team from day one her freshman year,” Holt said, speaking highly of Armstrong as an example for the younger golfers to follow.Upon her arrival at Notre Dame in 2011, Armstrong found success on the course and made an immediate impact, achieving the Big East Championship Medalist honor, as well as being named the Big East Rookie of the Year with a 75.62 stroke average.
“Her work ethic is one of the best in my 25 years of coaching,” Holt said. “She is always looking to improve, which is the mark of a great competitor.”
Armstrong did, in fact, continue to improve. During her sophomore year, she cut down her stroke average to 74.64 strokes per round, which contributed to the Irish winning the Big East Championship and earned her a spot on the all-Big East team for the second year in a row.
Her performance last season as a junior, Armstrong said, was not her best, though by almost most standards she had a strong season, leading the team with a 75.59 stroke average and finishing in second place in the season-opening tournament. However, Armstrong said she was not satisfied — she is constantly reevaluating her mental approach and practice routine.
“Last spring I was struggling, and my approach was to push and practice as hard as possible, pursuing a ‘perfect’ game,” she said. “I was spending more time on the practice range, [but this year] I am going to practice smarter by focusing on weaknesses and playing Warren Golf Course more often.”
To help achieve the team’s goal of qualifying for the NCAA national tournament, Armstrong said she has made an effort to create an environment where she and her teammates collaborate on mental and physical approaches to the game, but also on how they push each other and focus on their own performances, especially during competition.
“Of course, I want everyone to do well,” she said. “But I want to encourage all of my teammates to follow a similar mindset: that during tournaments, my teammates are my playing competitors and I am going to beat them … because it will benefit the overall team score at the end of the day.”
“Ashley has assumed the role of leader on the team over the past year, and now that she is a senior she needs to really be comfortable in that role to make sure all her teammates [follow her lead],” Holt said.
Armstrong said she is confident that the team has a shot at reaching the NCAA Championship.
She will begin her fourth and final season when the Irish begin their fall slate with the Mary Fossum Invitational on Sept. 13-14.