Junior captain Ashley Armstrong

Women's Golf Begins New Campaign At IU Fall Kickoff

Sep 6, 2013

2013 IU Fall Kickoff, hosted by Indiana University, Sept. 8, Purgatory Golf Club, Noblesville, Ind.

The Purgatory Golf Club was designed by architect Ron Kern and opened for play in 2000. The par-72, 6,631-yard layout was named one of the top 50 courses for women in America in 2013 by Golf Digest and Golf Digest Woman, and earned the distinction of being selected as the top course in the state of Indiana by Golfweek.

“We have not played this course before but I have heard it is a great test of golf. I think playing this course will get our games in good shape heading into the rest of the fall schedule.”

The 36-hole stroke play tournament begins with a shotgun start Sunday at 8:30 a.m. (ET). Players will complete two continuous 18-hole rounds.

The IU Fall Kickoff will have a strong Midwest presence, as all participants are from the states of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky in its 10-team field. The following schools will be represented during the tournament: Host Indiana University, University of Notre Dame (individuals only), University of Cincinnati, DePauw University, Indiana State University, IUPUI (individuals only), University of Louisville, Purdue University (individuals only), Xavier University and Youngstown State University.

Results will be posted on the UND Athletic Department Web site (www.UND.com) at the conclusion of play Sunday. There will be no live tournament results during play.

Notre Dame travels to the Mary Fossum Invitational, hosted by Michigan State University, Sept. 14-15 at the Forest Akers West Golf Course in East Lansing, Mich.

A Star On And Off The Course
Notre Dame golf standout shines both academically and athletically, leads Irish into new season

By Staci Gasser

Ashley Armstrong knows a little something about working hard.

The University of Notre Dame women’s golf standout was named to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholar Team for the second consecutive year in June and became the first Irish women’s golfer in program history to be named a Capital One Academic All-American.

In March 2013, she won back-to-back tournaments and was recognized as Golfweek’s Women’s National Player of the Week and the BIG EAST Women’s Golf Player of the Week.

And her victories on the course all came while recovering from an ankle injury and maintaining a 3.89 cumulative grade point average in mechanical engineering.

In 2013-14, she adds the responsibility of serving as team captain to her long list of accolades as the fall season gets underway.

“That’s definitely a huge honor,” Armstrong says. “It shows my coaches respect me and value what I bring to the team and I will do my best to guide us through this year. To be honest, though, we are such a small tight team that captain is more of a label. I want the team to work together as a team.”

Head coach Susan Holt marvels at how Armstrong excels both on the course and in the classroom.

“She just has a great leadership quality and personality and even above all that, she has the respect of her teammates,” Holt, who’s in her eighth year as head coach at Notre Dame, says. “She and I have a good relationship which will allow for a free-flowing dialogue, which we need to have. Take all those things into consideration and without question, she was the right one.”

Armstrong’s days begin at 6 a.m. and are packed with lifting, practice, engineering classes and studying, but as a junior, she’s got the hang of balancing her sport and her studies.

“It’s really just setting priorities. I’m a big fan of making lists, so I have a to-do list for everyday,” Armstrong says. “You have to look at the semester as a whole, then divide it out and take it day by day.

“With my schedule, you can’t lose a day. You have to be productive. I’ve developed good time management skills, I don’t sleep as much as I would like to, but that’s something that I’ve learned.”

Armstrong originally got into golf when her parents signed her up for it at their country club in her hometown of Flossmoor, Ill. Having to choose between golf and soccer, she chose golf, realizing that it offers more scholarships and it’s a sport that can last her the rest of her life.

“Ten years from now, I will still be able to play golf; I don’t think that you can say that about soccer,” she says. “Golf is a very rewarding sport, one that will definitely pay off if you put in a lot of really hard work.”

That hard work caught Notre Dame’s attention when Armstrong was at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. She has made an impact on the Irish squad since she arrived in South Bend in the fall of 2011.

Armstrong helped her squad win the 2013 BIG EAST title with two under-par rounds and earn a sixth consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. She tallied three top-10 finishes and seven top-25 finishes in 10 tournaments, with all 28 of her rounds counting toward team scoring. As a freshman, she was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year in 2012.

That same devotion can be seen off the course, evident by her high grade point average and hours spent in the library.

This summer, Armstrong also completed an internship in manufacturing engineering.

“I wore steel-toed boots, jeans, safety goggles and ear plugs every day to work, working on improvement projects,” Armstrong explains. “I loved the people I worked with, but I don’t think that type of work is for me. But I’m glad I experienced that side of mechanical engineering.”

Armstrong believes her focus is more on the biomedical side of mechanical engineering.

In golf, it’s consistency that she will be focusing hard on this season; the one area both she and Holt feel she lacks.

“She always has high goals for herself and uses her accomplishments from the previous year to push, saying, `Okay, what can I do to push myself even further,'” Holt says. “She’s achieved so much, so I would like to see her maintain that. If she can build on that, that would be great. I’d like to see her achieve consistency in her scoring from day-to-day, from tournament-to-tournament.”

The goal this season for the Irish is to make it to the NCAA finals, something that has eluded them the past two years after the program advanced past the regional round to its first-ever appearance in 2011. But championship or not, Armstrong’s name will be shining in women’s golf for at least two more years.

“It’s humbling (to get recognized), and I appreciate what everyone’s done for me here,” Armstrong says. “I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my professors, without my coaches, peers or family.

“It shows hard work pays off, but I’m not satisfied yet.”

Notre Dame Head Coach Susan Holt

On the earliest calendar start to the season since 2007 at this weekend’s IU Fall Kickoff

“This tournament was the last event I signed up for on our 2013-14 schedule. One-day events are not common, but (Indiana head coach Clint Wallman) was only using 23 of his 24 competition days and decided to host an event. As it turned out I had an open date and decided to play in this event. It’s close and we miss no class, and we will use it as a qualifier for our first “real” tournament. It gives us a chance to play 36 holes in one day, which is what will be doing the first day at Michigan State next weekend.”

If there is any added pressure opening the season at an earlier date

“Since it is a week earlier than we usually compete and we just completed our first full week of classes and practice, I decided that we are playing as individuals and not as a team in this event. I think this will allow our players to ease back into competition in a less stressful environment.”

Team expectations for the IU Fall Kickoff

“The goal for the weekend is to have a Notre Dame player win the individual title. We can’t win the team title playing as individuals but we will still try to get the moral victory and have the lowest team total for the day.”