Dedication leads to success for Bixby
The one constant on the Packers' golf team for the past five years has been senior Ashley Bixby posting low scores on a regular basis.
The reason for that is simple: she puts in far more time than the average golfer.
"She is a 'course rat,'" head coach Dan Wolf said. "The other girls play some in the summer, but none of them have the dedication to their game like she does. She plays all summer, she has lessons, she is in tournaments. That's what separates her. Other people want to be good at a sport, but very few want to take the time in the offseason when it's hot out."
Bixby, the daughter of Brad and Kristi Bixby, has been an avid golfer since the age of 12, and credits her parents with making her the golfer she is.
"They have both been the most supportive people I could ask for," Bixby said. "They got me into golf in the first place -- especially my dad -- and have always been there for me."
She has played other sports during her school years, including basketball and soccer, but admits golf has always been her game of choice.
"I really like the fact that I can think about what I'm doing. I can focus, and I know what I'm capable of."
Bixby plays plenty of rounds in the offseason, normally playing every day of the week. She also works with a coach at the Fargo Country Club, and her training during the season doesn't stop when practice ends.
"I love the game, and I just can't get enough of it," Bixby said. "After practice, I normally go home and eat and then I'll go right back out to the course."
Her hard work has paid off, as she has been the top golfer on the team, and one of the top golfers in the state, for several years.
"She is the engine that drives this team," Wolf said. "It's always nice to set a tone for the tournament when you know you have a player with the potential to win it. I don't think she has finished out of the top five all year, so knowing we have that we have one great score up there takes a lot of the heat off the other girls."
Bixby has had the best West Fargo Score at every meet the past few season, but she does her best to improve the performance of her teammates, who Bixby says have been "extremely supportive." Sometimes, she teaches simply by example.
"If some girls are struggling with something and Coach is busy, they will say 'Ash, do you know what I'm doing wrong?'" Bixby said. "I try my best to help them, but we all support each other."
"She is the type of person that is willing to help if girls come to her," Wolf said. "Even when we played some qualifying rounds, I stuck some of the younger players in her group because there is a lot to be learned just by watching her."
She hopes to help her team to a solid finish this year, but in the individual state tournament -- an event she has already qualified for -- she is "looking to win."
"She knows she has the ability to win the state tournament," Wolf said. "There is a little luck involved, and you have to play well two days in a row, but she has the game and we have to put her in the best position possible to win."
While this is the final season of her high school career, Bixby is undecided on which college she will attend, but is "100 percent" certain that she wants to play golf at the next level. Wolf is confident that whatever team she joins would be lucky to have her.
"She will be a very solid college golfer, and she would be an asset to whatever school she chooses to be with. She will go out and give it her best, and that's all you can ask out of an athlete."
Along with her stellar skillset, Wolf believes she will be an asset to any team due to her personality.
"I have very much enjoyed coaching Ashley. She has a great personality. I don't know if I've heard of anyone that doesn't like her. As a coach, that is the type of player you hope to have. It is not just her ability, but who she is as a person that makes her a joy to have on the team."