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MEN’S GOLF: Kubinski already off to good start with team

Ken Fowler | Thursday, March 3, 2005

Already, Jim Kubinski has made his mark – one tournament, one win.The new Irish men’s golf head coach joined the team at the end of January, and 30 days into his tenure as head coach, he has set the highest of standards for the rest of the season and the rest of his career.That’s fine with him, though. The important thing for Kubinski is to set a precedent.Finishing well in early tournaments is “important when you’re trying to establish credibility and build a program,” he said. “We’ve started down the right road. Honestly, I was hoping for a good finish, but to have a chance to win shows a lot about us.”Kubinski led the Irish to more than just a good finish. He led the team to its first win since last April.After serving at Duke as an assistant coach since 2003, he accepted an offer to join his long-time favorite university on Jan. 28 to replace John Jasinski as head coach.”At Duke I had to be a more of a closet fan [of the Irish],” he said. “But for me, [Notre Dame] was the perfect setting to build a program.”In the month since Kubinski joined the Irish, his main task has been to instill a confidence in his golfers.”One, you’ve got to believe in yourself … and have that confidence that we’re going to go into tournaments [knowing] we’re going to beat these guys,” he said. He saw that confidence on the 16th tee of the English Turn Golf and Country Club Tuesday as his players prepared for their playoff with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington for the tournament title.”When we found out we were going to have a five-person playoff … Eric [Deutsch] said, ‘you put Mark [Baldwin] and Eddie [Peckels] and I together and this thing’s over,'” Kubinski said. Right after that, he said, Cole Isban and Tommy Balderston “looked at each other like they’re never going to lose this thing.”They didn’t.That attitude, though, was not isolated to the tee of the playoff hole.Kubinski stressed that the Irish were calm, patient and determined throughout the 54-hole tournament. “In the morning, they played okay,” he said. “We just weren’t making any putts. Then they came out in the afternoon and shot the low round of the day.”When things are rough out there, it just takes a lot of patience. That’s what I was impressed most about.”He had reason to be impressed. The Irish had just shot a team score of 5-over 293 and vaulted from fifth after the morning to first by the afternoon.After falling behind to Wilmington on Tuesday, that calm demeanor returned towards the end of the round. Notre Dame, down nearly a half-dozen, saw Wilmington’s best golfer make a triple-bogey, and the Irish were right back in the tournament.From then on, Jasinski said, “everyone was very relaxed. There was no panic.”No panic, indeed.The Irish came back, tied the Seahawks, and then won the playoff convincingly, 2-under to 1-over.”It’s just remarkable. … For me, this was the perfect setting to build a program,” Kubinski said.He followed that sentence with a comment that proves the new coach trying to build a program is fully acclimated to the old school with its long-standing traditions. “Notre Dame is what college sports is all about,” he said.With wins like this week’s and words like those, coach Kubinski’s era as Notre Dame’s men’s golf coach just started as smoothly as his players’ swings.