Notre Dame golf: What's a golfer like you doing in a place like this?

Al Lesar Commentary
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND -- Somewhere in the world, the sun is shining; birds arechirping; and it's a beautiful day for golf.

So, why is the top-ranked women's collegiate golfer living in South Bend?

It's a mystery until Lindsay Weaver shares her perspective.

Common sense would say otherwise. The Notre Dame freshman, who grew upin Scottsdale, Ariz., could have gone to college anywhere. Greatgrades. Solid character. Sensational stretch on the national juniorgolf tour.

"I looked at Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia (among others)," Weaversaid. "I was never left with the 'wow' effect."

She got wowed at Notre Dame.

The "wow" effect obviously trumped lake effect.

Weaver's transition to the world of college golf has gone more than smoothly.

It has been downright amazing.

Notre Dame's fall season consisted of four tournaments, involving 10competitive rounds. She was 4 over par, tied for sixth, in her 54-holebaptism. Her next three tournaments were all under par, twosecond-place finishes and a third.

Weaver's body of work left her with a 71.6 average, best in thenation, heading into this weekend's spring debut in a tournament atFlorida State.

"Playing juniors was really competitive, but there is more competitionin college," Weaver said. "I'm more intimidated because I'm one of theyoungest out there."

In golf years, Weaver is talented beyond her age.

"(The No. 1 ranking) is pretty legit," said Notre Dame coach SusanHolt. "She just doesn't do anything (on the golf course) badly."

The 5-foot-3 Weaver, whose average drive is about 250 yards, showedsigns of brilliance last February when she shot a sizzling 59 in ajunior competition at the Apache Course at Desert Mountain inScottsdale. LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam is the only otherfemale golfer to shoot 59 (in 2001).

"I was in a zone," Weaver recalled. "Every putt I hit I knew it was going in.

"It propelled me to work harder. I knew what I was capable of doing."

Weaver's path to Notre Dame was somewhat unconventional.

She played high school golf only her freshman and sophomore years. "InArizona, you miss a lot of school if you're playing golf," she said."My parents (both school principals) took education seriously."

A demanding national junior summer schedule was her ticket to development.

Her swing coach -- her father -- doesn't play golf. In his younger days,he was a graduate assistant football coach at Ohio State under WoodyHayes. Later, he was a high school football coach before becoming anadministrator.

"My dad's competitive; he understands how competitive I am," Weaversaid. "He reads everything (about golf) that he can get his hands on.He knows my game. He's always one step ahead of me. I've gone to otherteachers, but none matched him."

In fact, it was Lindsay's dad who planted the Notre Dame seed in herhead. While visiting his older daughter Lauren -- a senior golfer atNorthwestern -- he had some extra time and took an unannounced visit toNotre Dame.

"Somehow, he got in our indoor facility," Holt said. "Then, he took aride around (the Warren Golf Course). He told Lindsay, 'You've gottacheck out Notre Dame.'"

One look was all it took.

Besides adjusting to the competition on the course, Weaver has gottencomfortable in the classroom. A business finance major, she earned a3.271 GPA her first semester.

If there's one part of her game that could use improvement, it'sdriving accuracy. Holt said her percentage of fairways hit isrelatively low, in the 60s. However, Weaver is good enough to get tothe green in regulation, and drop the birdie putt.

"For the most part, my approach to coaching her is to stay out of herway," Holt said. "I'll never be accused of over-coaching."

Yet, there's time when Holt needs to step in and lighten the mood.

"Of all the places I've been as a coach, Notre Dame kids are suchperfectionists," Holt said. "I don't know if there's a worse sport fora player to be a perfectionist.

"Sometimes I have to sit some of them down and remind them not tothink so much."

"It's hard to be perfect in golf," Weaver said. "I've gotten angry onthe course, but in college I've learned to control it. Having a teambehind me, cheering for me, helps. That support is new to me.

"I've gotten really comfortable here."

That's one reason why she's No. 1.

Notre Dame golf: What's a golfer like you doing in a place like this?