DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Gator frosh golfer Menne off to a great start

Xavier Prep has produced a long list of outstanding golfers over the years. Some of the more noteworthy names are Amanda Blumenhurst, Cheyenne Woods, Kimberly Kim, Madison Kerley and Alicia Snyder.
But the one who just might wind up being the best of all is a freshman at XCP this year – Ashley Menne.
So what makes her so special?
She was the co-medalist (with teammate Elizabeth Caldarelli and Chandler Hamilton’s Hannah Li) at the recent state tournament won by the Gators.
She aleady has participated in numerous national tournaments and recently was named to the Rolex Junior All-American team (honorable mention) as the only golfer from Arizona. Menne also played in the Polo Junior Golf Classic in Florida, where she was one of the nation’s top 16 golfers in the match-play event.
Menne is a finalist for the Golfer of the Year and was the Player of the Year in the Junior Golf Association of Arizona in 2013, 2014, 2015 and the girls’ Championship Division in 2016.
It is an understatement to say that Menne is busy.
In addition to maintaining a top-notch grade-point average, she has a lengthy trip from and to Surprise in the northwest Valley every day. When she is not playing in tournaments for Xavier, she takes lessons at the Falcon Dunes Golf Course near Luke Air Force Base.
Ask Menne about the key to her success and her answer is simple.
“I just go out there and try my best,’’ she said. “You can have expectations, but I try not to think too much. I just go out and play golf.’’

Xavier Prep golfer Ashley Menne.
 Long-time Xavier golf coach and athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor marvels at how Menne maintains an even keel.
“She is really serious about golf, and if you watch her out on the course, you would never know if she is winning or losing,’’ Winsor said.
Menne has a similar approach in the classroom, instilled in her by her mother, Alicia.
“I have all A’s so far. I don’t like getting B’s,’’ Menne said.
She enjoys her Chinese language course (Mandarin) and for good reason. Her mother is from China and Ashley was born in Singapore. Ashley’s father, Carl, is from Pennsylvania, and the family lived in Singapore before moving to Arizona when Ashley was 5. Her father came here due in part to his job with an aircraft company.
Menne enjoys the athletic and academic atmosphere at Xavier.
“I never really played in a team atmosphere before this year. Playing with the girls on the team has been a lot of fun. They are great,’’ she said. “I already knew some of them from playing in tournaments (non-Xavier) together.’’
She became interested in golf when her father and her brother, John (he attends Goodyear Millennium) played in Singapore.
“It just stuck with me and I have had fun with it along the way,’’ she said.
What puts her within reach of the top in most tournaments, she said, is driving the ball straight off the tee and with good distance.
On Wednesday (Dec. 1), Menne was invited to another prestigious national tournament, named after former University of Arizona golfer Annika Sorenstam. It will be played Feb. 17-20 in Reunion, Fla.
Expect her to meet the challenge head-on, as she always has done.
“Playing in these tournaments is a good experience,’’ she said. “I want to play well, and leave the course knowing I gave it all I had.’’

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