Men’s Golf: Irish among Big East’s best under Kubinski
Conor Kelly | Wednesday, August 24, 2011
When Jim Kubinski took the reigns of the Notre Dame golf program in 2005, he had visions of an Irish team that could compete with the top programs in the country.
Faced, however, with challenges like the northwestern Indiana winters and the University’s stringent admissions requirements, Kubinski knew the road to the top would not be easy.
Three Big East titles later, he will guide a 2011-2012 squad that has the potential to compete for its first NCAA championship since 1944.
“We want to be in the situation where we play in NCAA finals, not just the regional,” Kubinski said.
Kubinski took a circuitous road to South Bend. He was born in Springfield, Mass. and graduated from Springfield College in 1993, where he captained the golf team his junior and senior years.
He went on to play a number of minor professional tours in New England before landing a job as an assistant golf professional at Greenville Country Club in South Carolina.
There, he developed the teaching style that would lead GOLF magazine to nominate him for its 2007 Top 100 Teacher’s List.
“I think that the problem with a lot of the teaching strategies these days is that they are designed to make money,” Kubinski said. “You can’t use cookie-cutter solutions for unique issues. You take what a guy has in terms of physical attributes and go from there.”
Kubinski continued to work at golf clubs until 2003 when he joined the staff at Duke as an assistant coach. He worked with both the men and women’s teams and helped lead the women to a national championship in 2002.
“I got to work with a lot of very talented golfers at Duke, and frankly I think that helped me really shoot up the rankings of golf coaches,” Kubinski said. “People notice top individual finishes and congratulate the coach. Ninety-nine percent of it is the golfer you’re working with.”
When the head coaching position at Notre Dame opened in 2005, he jumped at the opportunity and never looked back, catapulting the Irish to a No. 12 national ranking in his first season.
From the start, Kubinski endeavored to build an elite program. Under his lead, Notre Dame has opened a new indoor facility that allows the program to flourish in the cold winter months. It also attracts recruits.
“When I was at Duke, we basically had our pick of the top amateur golfers in the country,” Kubinski said. “We’re getting to that point here. We’re getting some of the best talent in the country.”
For golfers who have had private coaches since the time they could walk, Kubinski sees his role as just enhancing what is entrusted to him and working with players on the mental side of the game.
“There’s golf, and then there’s tournament golf,” Kubinski said. “It’s one thing to have a great swing and another to bring it out in crunch time.”
The Irish will face their fair share of high-pressure situations this season as they move toward the NCAA spring championship in Los Angeles.