“I wanted to stay closer to home. When I visited the campus, I really liked the coach, I like the atmosphere, the girls were cool. I really liked it and I’m pretty happy with my choice.”<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Madison’s Hannah Holt, above, and playing a pitch shot to a green, top.
“I wanted to stay closer to home. When I visited the campus, I really liked the coach, I like the atmosphere, the girls were cool. I really liked it and I’m pretty happy with my choice.”



Madison’s Hannah Holt, above, and playing a pitch shot to a green, top.
Hannah Holt wanted to play big-time college golf and not have to travel too far from home. As it turned out, Southern Indiana proved to be the perfect fit to pursue that goal.

Holt has signed to play golf at Southern Indiana this fall. Not only are the Screaming Eagles a Division II program, but USI's Evansville campus allowed the Madison senior to play relatively close to home.

"I've talked to a bunch of different places but they were schools in San Diego, Pennsylvania and Florida," Holt said on Tuesday. "I wanted to stay closer to home. When I visited the (USI) campus, I really liked the coach, I like the atmosphere, the girls were cool. I really liked it and I'm pretty happy with my choice."

Holt was the lone senior on a Madison team that made the state finals last fall. And while she was overshadowed by junior teammate Amanda Detmer, who recently announced she will play at NCAA Division I Jacksonville University, Holt has carved out an identity of her own.

Last year she was one of only two players to beat Detmer in a match prior to the state finals and she had strong rounds of 78 in both the regional and the first day of state.

But rather than harbor jealousy of Detmer, Holt embraced the idea of playing with her and used their friendship to make herself even better.

"Amanda's definitely a great golfer to be sure but she made me work harder," Holt said. "I'd see her practicing all the time and it made me realize that I needed to work that hard too. I had always wanted to play Division I golf but you have to work even harder for that. But I'm really happy with Division II."

It was in the summer tournaments where Holt truly got a chance to showcase her talents. She had strong finishes two years in a row at the Indiana Junior State Championships, finishing runner-up in the Fourth Flight in 2012 and winning the Fourth Flight last year.

The Indiana Juniors places golfers on the course in a traditional stroke-play format before breaking the golfers up by score and seeding them in a match-play bracket. Those match-play tourneys were where Holt played her most competitive rounds.

"I always struggled early but then I settled down in the match-play and played much better," Holt said. "It's always good to play in those summer tournaments and get a chance to show yourself as an individual. I love my teammates and I love being on a team, but it was a real chance to be by yourself and allow people to see you."

Holt said the biggest area she needs to improve in is her short game. A hitting session for USI coaches over the winter showed that she has no problem driving the ball.

"I was hitting everything on target. I was in the zone," Holt said of the session. "I think they were impressed and said I have a chance to maybe play in the top three. That's pretty impressive because every year they either go to nationals as a team or send an individual. It's a pretty good program and I'm excited."

Holt plans on enjoying her final two months of high school. She doesn't play a spring sport, but is involved with the school musical for the first time and the performances are this weekend.

"It's definitely been nerve-wracking. I'm planning graduation and all the parties, plus I don't want to slack off with just two months left," Holt said. "And I'm trying to work on my game too, although with the weather it's been hard to get on the course."

While Holt is undecided on a major she is leaning toward something in the medical field, either athletic training, therapy or nursing. But she wants to stay as close to sports as she can.

"I love sports and I really want to stay around it if I can," Holt said. "I love being part of a team and I would miss it."