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Men’s Golf: Coach earns teaching honor

Fran Tolan | Thursday, November 9, 2006

Irish coach Jim Kubinski has been nominated for GOLF Magazine’s 2007 “100 Greatest Teachers” list, compiled annually to honor the best instructors in the game. Kubinski is one of “between four and five hundred” PGA professionals selected as nominees.

Kubinski, who last week received a letter notifying him of his nomination, said he did not promote his own case for this honor but was very happy to learn he had been selected.

“I was pretty surprised by it actually,” Kubinski said. “It is a neat honor to be mentioned with the best teachers in the country.”

Before coming to Notre Dame in 2005, Kubinski, 36, spent a year-and-a-half as an assistant coach for the Duke men’s and women’s teams. There, he worked under Duke Golf Club general manager Ed Ibarguen, also a top-100 teacher.

Kubinski also attributes much of his success to the opportunity to work for two Hall of Fame coaches, Duke men’s coach Rod Myers and women’s coach Dan Brooks. Myers and Brooks have won a combined four NCAA national championships.

“Each of those men were outstanding mentors and influenced my teaching tremendously,” Kubinski said. “Working with each of them, I picked up things that I incorporated into my own teaching style.”

In his first two full seasons at Notre Dame, Kubinski has led the Irish to consecutive Big East Conference titles and NCAA regional berths. He has also amassed three tournament victories, 10 top-five finishes and 12 wins over top-25 opponents during his short tenure. Under Kubinski’s guidance, Notre Dame set a school record last season with a 292.97 stroke average.

Senior co-captain Cole Isban calls Kubinski’s approach to practicing one of the coach’s best assets.

“He has done a lot of great things for us on a mental scale,” Isban said. “The ideas and drills used in practice have definitely improved since he got here.”

Isban also noted that Kubinski has worked hard to improve the swings of several of the freshmen on this year’s team.

The GOLF Magazine Top 100 selections will be announced later this month. Many of the instructors on the list are mainstays, which makes it difficult for new teachers to crack the list.

Kubinski is happy that the list sends a positive message to coaches around the country.

“Regardless of how the final voting comes out, I think the fact that we’re talking about teaching is exciting,” Kubinski said. “Too many times, coaches focus on wins and losses and scheduling and recruiting and so many other things. It’s nice to have this time to reflect on what our real mission is. We’re here to help our players improve on and off the course.”