Ashley Menne is certainly a golfer to watch, but perhaps she would humbly prefer if you didn’t make too big of deal out of that.
“The better she plays, the less you talk about it,” said Paul Smith, her golf instructor and swing coach. “You don’t really pat her on the back too much, you just sort of keep quiet, because you don’t want to jinx it.
“So you just let the score, let the clubs do the talking.”
Unfortunately for the sake of flying under the radar, people are going to keep talking about Menne’s golf game.
The 16-year-old has already put her stamp on golf, both in Arizona and nationwide.
In 2018, she has competed in 15 tournaments, finishing first in seven of them, including the last five straight. She’s posted double-digit wins over the competition and set course records along the way. She’s been the Junior Golf Association of Arizona (JGAA) Player of the Year the last two years and currently leads this year’s standings by 1,000 points. She has already won more JGAA sanctioned tournaments than anyone else.
But still, any celebrations are quiet.
Menne herself says it’s less about a jinx, and more about humility. Golf has brought her closer to players from around the world, and she never wants to make her friends and fellow competitors feel bad.
“I do celebrate,” said Menne, who is also a two-time azcentral Sports Awards Girls Golfer of the Year. “I’m excited that I won, but I don’t want to rub it in everyone else’s faces. I just keep it kind of low-key – maybe after I leave the golf course.”
Menne has propelled her high school team to further success, as well. The Phoenix Xavier Prep rising junior won her second consecutive individual Div. I title last November, along with helping the Gators capture their seventh straight team title.
Playing with a close-knit team is one of Menne’s favorite parts about high school golf and something that draws her to playing through college, as opposed to jumping to the LPGA.
“I kind of want to do college first before I start anything professionally,” she said.
Menne verbally committed to Arizona State in January. She was drawn to the family atmosphere, which she found similar to the team vibe at Xavier. That overlap may stem from the fact that head coach Missy Farr-Kaye is a 1985 Xavier graduate.
Her commitment to ASU was a culmination of years of perfecting her craft. Menne started playing golf when she was 5 and living in Singapore. She saw her older brother, John, playing with her dad.
“I kind of wanted to beat my brother at everything,” she said. “It took awhile. I was not good when I first started, but I slowly got there. And now I can probably beat him.”
The Menne family moved to the United States when Ashley was 9. There, she began to dedicate more time to the sport, perfecting each and every detail of her game.
“She’s not necessarily happy if the ball goes in the hole after she rolls in a putt,” said Brian McMahon, a golf psychology coach who met Menne through Smith. “She wants it to go to the center of the hole. So she has very high standards. …
“I’m not sure too many of the kids do that. I think that’s kind of what separates her from others.”
Smith, who has spent hours on the greens with Menne, echoed that.
“Yeah, for four and five-footers, she’s pissed if she’s not hitting in the center,” he said. “She doesn’t consider a ball going in the hole left-center or right-center good… If it’s not going in the center, there’s something wrong. So she’s always trying to bleed out the problems. She’s very meticulous in her results.”
The results have been remarkable so far, and her summer is jam-packed with more tournaments. This week, she’s competing in the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego, where a number of her friends from Singapore are playing, as well.
Next week, she’ll head to the Poppy Hills course in Pebble Beach for the 2018 US Girls Junior Championship.
Still, Menne manages to have a well-rounded life outside of golf. She has a 4.0 GPA at Xavier, where she says she has two to three hours of homework each night. She loves ceramics, which she finds calming. She hangs out with friends and stays up on social media – sometimes too much, her dad jokes. And, in another testament to her determination, she just got her driver’s license on the first attempt.
“She’s thrilled about that,” her dad, Carl Menne, said. “A lot of her friends didn’t pass it the first time. So she said, ‘I’m going to pass it the first time,’ and she did.”
A self-described perfectionist in all aspects of her life, Menne plans to keep persisting at all goals, but especially at golf, where she still has two years of high school ahead of her and more low-key celebrations to come.
“She never really plateaued,” Smith said. “She was always improving, and she’s still improving.”