Having completed her 10th season as Notre Dame's head women's golf coach in 2015-16, Susan Holt has transformed the Fighting Irish into one of the nation's most successful and consistent programs both on and off the course. A six-time conference Coach of the Year (most recently earning the 2013 BIG EAST award), Holt has led Notre Dame to nine consecutive NCAA regional appearances (2008-16), including the first NCAA Championship berth in program history (2011), while lowering the team's season stroke average by more than 10 strokes since she arrived on the scene in 2006.
In addition, Holt has piloted Notre Dame to four conference titles, 16 total tournament championships and the top nine single-season stroke averages in the program's record book, all while guiding Fighting Irish players to 13 medalist honors and 26 all-conference accolades as well as the first two All-America selections in Notre Dame women's golf history.
Holt has found equal success mentoring her charges in the classroom, with Fighting Irish players collecting 19 NGCA/WGCA All-Scholar Team citations, 41 conference all-academic team certificates and the first three Academic All-America honors in program history (Ashley Armstrong in 2013, 2014 and 2015). In addition, Notre Dame earned a pair of BIG EAST Team Academic Excellence Awards (2011 and 2012) and has posted the highest combined grade-point average among all 26 Notre Dame athletics teams in nine of Holt's first 19 semesters under the Golden Dome, most notably a school-record 3.776 GPA in the spring of 2012.
Under Holt's leadership, the Fighting Irish once again sparkled in 2015-16, posting a 297.16 stroke average (a mere half-stroke shy of the program's current single-season record of 296.60 in 2014-15) and earning a berth in the NCAA Birmingham Regional. What's more, Notre Dame won two tournaments in the fall of 2015 and finished second at the high-powered Landfall Tradition, defeating 11 ranked opponents (including four top-20 teams) along the way. The Fighting Irish also posted two of the four lowest 54-hole team scores and lowest single-round scores (all relative to par) in school history, and their 30-stroke win at Nebraska's Chip-N Club Invitational was the program's largest margin of victory in more than a decade. Thanks to their hot start, the Fighting Irish were rated as high as No. 20 in the Golfstat rankings (March 9).
Notre Dame's expectation of excellence during the Holt era rose to new heights in 2014-15, as the Fighting Irish registered the aforementioned best single-season stroke average in program history (296.60), more than two full strokes better than the previous school record (298.70 in 2012-13). Notre Dame also placed in the top 10 in all 10 tournaments it played, including four top-five finishes (three in a row midway through the year, a first for the program since the fall of 2008) and the title at Michigan State's Mary Fossum Invitational.
In 2013-14, Holt steered Notre Dame to its seventh straight NCAA regional appearance after a strong performance at its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. Notre Dame recorded the third-best score on day three of the tournament to put the team in a tie for fifth place with a 905 (+33) total (306-303-296).
A season earlier in 2012-13, Holt was a part of a Fighting Irish squad that posted the program's top team stroke average (298.70). Notre Dame also claimed its third BIG EAST Championship in a six-year period during its final season in the league. The Fighting Irish qualified for the NCAA East Regional with their automatic bid, and were strong contenders to advance to the NCAA finals through the first two rounds of the event.
Also in the 2012-13 season, Holt coached the Fighting Irish to their highest mid-season ranking in the history of the program at No. 14, according to Golfstat's Nov. 14 report and remained steady in the Golfstat Top 25 the majority of the year.
Thanks to Holt's leadership, then-freshman Lindsey Weaver was tabbed the BIG EAST Player and Freshman of the Year and named to the all-BIG EAST team. Armstrong collected her second straight all-BIG EAST accolade with Talia Campbell joining her after taking co-medalist honors with Weaver at the conference tournament.
In 2010-11, Holt was instrumental in guiding the Fighting Irish to their first-ever NCAA Championship finals appearance and fourth BIG EAST Championship. Notre Dame posted a stroke average of 299.70, at the time the lowest in program history and also the first time a Fighting Irish squad broke 300 for a single-season stroke average. All five golfers in the regular lineup still rank in the top 20 in stroke average in program history, with So-Hyun Park, Becca Huffer, Nicole Zhang and Kristina Nhim each earning all-BIG EAST honors. The Fighting Irish also won three regular-season team titles (Mary Fossum Invitational, William K. Warren Irish Invite and John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate), in addition to the BIG EAST Championship.
The 2009-10 campaign marked Notre Dame's third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Central Regional as the Irish put together a team stroke average of 306.60. The team's best finish was a second-place tie in the 12-team field at the Alamo Invitational. There, Annie Brophy earned co-medalist honors to become just the sixth golfer in program history to win multiple individual titles, having already captured medalist honors at the 2008 BIG EAST Championship.
Three Notre Dame players earned All-BIG EAST honors in 2010 including Brophy, Katie Conway and Huffer. With her fourth such honor, Brophy became just the second player in program history to earn all-BIG EAST accolades four times.
Teaming with associate head coach Kyle Lynne Demeter to form one of the nation's elite recruiting tandems, Holt has helped the Fighting Irish welcome some of the finest student-athletes in Notre Dame women's golf annals. In 2015, Holt attracted a three-player class that was, by all accounts, the strongest in program history (finishing fourth in the nation in the Golfstat freshman class rankings following the 2015-16 season), featuring all three players as consensus top 50 selections by every major junior golf media outlet. In fact, Notre Dame was one of only two schools in the country (along with Georgia) that had three top-50 signees joining its roster in 2015-16.
One of Holt's early standout recruits, Huffer closed out her brilliant career in 2011-12, finishing with a 75.19 stroke average and parlaying that success into a spot on the Symetra Tour, the top developmental circuit for players aspiring to play on the LPGA Tour. A four-time all-BIG EAST selection, Huffer was a two-time team most valuable player and won the BIG EAST Sports Excellence Award for women's golf as a senior in 2011-12.
Holt also had helped shape Park's development, as the South Korea native was a three-time all-BIG EAST selection and earned honorable mention All-America status from Golfweek and the National Golf Coaches Association in 2007-08 under Holt's watchful eye. Park remains among the top 10 in program history for career stroke average (76.12) and single-season stroke average (73.63 in 2007-08), while her second-round 66 at the 2008 Heather Farr Memorial has stood for the better part of a decade as the school record for a single round (since tied twice).
Holt was introduced as head coach of the University of Notre Dame women's golf program in August of 2006. She became the second full-time head coach in the history of the Fighting Irish program and the fourth overall since women's golf became a varsity sport prior to the 1988-89 season.
Holt came to Notre Dame from South Florida after 13 successful seasons guiding the Bulls. Prior to her final season in Tampa, USF joined the BIG EAST and Holt led the Bulls to a tie for third, along with Notre Dame, in their inaugural BIG EAST tournament.
"First and foremost, I was attracted by the opportunity to come to what I believe is the best academic and athletic combination that's out there," says Holt on why she decided to come to Notre Dame following a successful run at USF.
"The commitment to the golf program with the course and the new indoor facility makes a statement. As a coach you want to know that you have a chance to be successful and you can tell that's how it is at Notre Dame and it's impressive to see that."
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Holt made a return to the Midwest, where she began her college coaching career at Purdue from 1990-93.
She then took over the USF program in 1993 and led the Bulls to 16 team titles and 17 runner-up finishes, including five of 10 Conference USA Championships. She guided the team and/or individuals to 11 NCAA Regional appearances and trips to the NCAA Championship Finals in 2001 and 2002.
Holt's teams at South Florida won at least one tournament in 10 of her 13 seasons and she was recognized as the Conference USA Coach of the Year in 1996, 1999 and 2001. In the spring of 2005, Holt was named Conference USA Coach of the Decade for women's golf (1995-2005). Under Holt's watch, South Florida players were named to the Conference USA All-Conference Team 23 times. Former LPGA player and South Florida graduate Kelly Lagedrost was named Conference USA Player of the Year while playing for Holt in 2001, and another of Holt's USF pupils, Christina Jones was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2005.
Prior to college coaching, Holt worked as a club professional in West Palm Beach, Florida, and in Ipswich, Massachusetts. She is a 1988 Ohio State graduate, where she helped the Buckeyes win a pair of Big Ten Conference titles (1985, 1988) and reach the NCAA Championship those same years.
Holt graduated from Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio, and has been a member of the PGA of America since 1992.
Holt and her husband, Tim (a Kokomo, Indiana, native) married in 1993 and they are the parents of two children, Justin (who will be a sophomore on the men's golf team at IUPUI in 2016-17) and Kristin (who is poised to begin her senior year on the girls' golf team at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana). Tim Holt also is a member of the PGA of America and works as a PGA teaching professional in the South Bend area.
-- updated May 2016