Glen Cove resident Ashley Harding discovered she is the first golfer at Kellenberg Memorial High School to win an individual state championship after reading about her achievement on the school’s website.
“When I found out I was very, very surprised and blown away by what I had done,” she said.
Harding shot an 80 to win the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) title in the 18-hole tournament against 16 fellow statewide golfers at Eisenhower Park White Course on May 21. She made par on eight holes and birdied the par-3 fifth to defeat Our Lady of Mercy’s Katie Costello by one stroke.
“I kept my consistency throughout the round, and the last couple of holes I really felt like I was at the top of my game,” she said.
Earlier in May, Harding also claimed the title of first Kellenberg student to win the individual League Championship, shooting a 75 in the 18-hole tourney with a field of 17 on Eisenhower’s Blue Course. She won by five strokes.
The senior All-Long Island selection this spring also earned her Girl Scout Gold Award for developing a platform to expose local fourth- and fifth-graders to golf. She held clinics and workshops at the City of Glen Cove’s green and the Glen Cove Golf Course, where she first picked up a set of irons at age 12.
After participating in multiple sports growing up and initially taking to tennis, Harding started to swing clubs regularly on local greens. She soon focused solely on golf, enjoying its slower, calmer pace. She attended a camp at Glen Cove Golf Course, took lessons from instructor Bob Arrowood and competed in tournaments.
“I had fallen in love with the game when I went to the camp and that has stayed with me ever since,” she said.
Harding, who joined Kellenberg’s varsity team as a freshman, was mentored early in high school by St. John’s men’s head coach Mal Galletta III, a PGA golfer. In addition to helping improve technique, Galletta also instilled in her a strong mental approach to the sport. Kellenberg head coach Keith Doran said what separates Harding from her peers is her confident, even-keeled demeanor.
“Ashley never gets frazzled,” he said. “I would never play poker against her because I wouldn’t know what her hand would be.”
Under Doran, Harding advanced to team and individual championship rounds during all four years at Kellenberg. She won her first individual League Championship as a sophomore in 2016 and earned her second consecutive team MVP honors this spring.
With her distinguished Kellenberg career in the books, Harding will take her talents to the collegiate level at Union College, where she earned an academic scholarship. The women’s golf team competes in the Liberty Conference along with NYU, Vassar, Wellesley, Ithaca College, St. Lawrence University and Mount Holyoke.
“Ashley has a bright future in college golf and I’m sure she’s going to play in amateur tournaments around here on Long Island,” Doran said. “We’re going to hear about her in the future.”