Sept. 4, 2017
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The John Handrigan era of the Notre Dame men’s golf program is in full swing as the Fighting Irish are now just one week away from its 2017-18 season opener in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Under new leadership, the rejuvenated Irish begin to plot their new path which they hope leads to their first postseason appearance in four years.
“I’ve seen new energy and excitement,” Coach Handrigan explained. “These guys have been clamoring for new structure and I’m here to help further their game. I feel like they're eager to learn, and I just love their devotion to Notre Dame golf and their will to succeed.”
Monday afternoon will officially wrap the end of ‘Q School,’ which consisted of six rounds of qualifying for the first fall tournament. The top-two players earn their respective spots on the travel team, while the remaining three spots become coaches’ picks.
“Qualifying has been very competitive,” Handrigan added. “In addition, practice has been really focused and the guys have been working hard to get ready. The biggest thing that I have been stressing is course management.”
Coach Handrigan’s course management lessons resulted in a new system being introduced to the team in ‘Decade,’ which is a golf management program that teaches the golfer where to aim his or her shot based off of stats from the PGA Tour. After a few days of getting acquainted with the new system, Coach Handrigan noticed lower scores.
The Invitational at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island on Sept. 11 marks the first of what will be five fall tournaments for the Irish, but the one that has drawn the most excitement from the program will be the Fighting Irish Classic at the Warren Golf Course starting October 8.
“It’s our only home event of the entire year so it’s the only opportunity for those from the local community or friends and family to come see us at home,” Handrigan said.
“Plus, we have one of the best university courses in the country, which has led us to hosting the U.S. Senior Open in 2019. The USGA only host their events on the best courses so for us to be selected just shows you the quality of golf that we have. It’s great for recruiting because the USGA stamp tells recruits that they’ll be playing on a world class golf course when they come here.”
The Irish return eight players from a year ago, including 2016-17 tournament medalists Kevin Connors, John Felitto and Ben Albin, as the latter enters his junior campaign with the third best career stroke average in school history with a 73.38. The eight returnees will also be joined by two incoming freshmen in Alex Jamieson and Davis Chatfield.
“We are playing on some great golf courses which have some great history,” Handrigan stated. “The fields continue to get stronger as the fall tournaments roll on so constant improvement is key. Biggest thing I want to see is our guys compete. I haven’t seen them in competition so I’m eager to get on the road and see what they can do.”
Josh Bates joined Fighting Irish Media as associate athletics communications director in July of 2017, serving as the women’s basketball and men’s golf contact. Bates earned both his bachelor’s (2011) and master’s (2014) degree in sports management from the University of Illinois. He also worked as a grad assistant at Illinois from 2012-14 and worked full-time at Tulane University from 2014-17.