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Men’s Golf: Kubinski brings Irish to national prominence

Eric Prister | Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Entering his sixth season as the head coach for the Irish, Jim Kubinski has already made a major impact on the program, and looks to continue building for the future.

Kubinski was given the position half-way through the 2004-05 season, inheriting a very skilled team that went on to claim the Big East Conference title that season, but saw flaws in the structure of the program.

“From my very first meeting here, my focus has been to instill pride, discipline, confidence and good work habits,” Kubinski said. “When I took over, a number of practices that I took for granted as necessities were not in place here.”

Kubinski began putting those practices in place as soon as he arrived, and the Irish went on to win a second straight Big East championship in 2006.

“We’ve worked hard to structure practices, create class schedules conducive to playing and practicing as a team, build chemistry where it’s about “us” rather than ‘I’ or ‘my’ and several seemingly little pieces that, when pieced together, have had a huge impact in preparing us to make the jump from a more regionalized program to a national program,” Kubinski said.

The Irish golf program has substantially evolved over the past 10 years, due in large part to the coaching ability and recruiting efforts of Kubinski. He was nominated for the 2007 GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teachers list, which places his name in conversation as one of the best young coaches in the country.

“I think it’s important to have a perspective on where we’ve come from as a program,” Kubinski said. “Just 10 years ago, we had only one scholarship for men’s golf, no championship Warren Golf Course, no Rolfs Varsity Building and a travel schedule that was mainly limited to the Midwest. In 10 short years, we now have our full NCAA complement of scholarships, the very best practice facilities around, a fantastic and championship golf course and a schedule that sees us compete against the very best teams in the country and on the very best courses.”

It is a team-oriented focus that defines the success that Kubinski and the Irish have had throughout his tenure. During his coaching career, Kubinski’s teams have recorded the top four single-season stroke averages in school history and nine of the 12 best single-round scores. In addition, Kubinski’s teams have recorded 15 wins over Top 25 teams and have been ranked as high as No. 12.

“It is evident that (Kubinski) truly cares not only about the team’s success, but the team’s well being,” senior Carl Santos-Ocampo said. “In such a challenging sport that sometimes can mentally get you down, (Kubinski) makes sure the team is always in high spirits.”

Individual successes have also been a major part of Kubinski’s term. Former Irish star Cole Isban was named to the PING All-Midwest Region team three years in a row under Kubinski, and fifth-year senior Josh Sandman was given similar honors in 2008.

The 2009-10 season is the first in which Kubinski’s recruits will play a major roll on the team, and he believes that the program will once again turn the corner and move back to the top of the Big East.

“This year is really the first year we’re going to see (the recruits from 2007) step up and compete favorably against the strongest teams nationally,” Kubinski said. “With the experienced seniors we have and those younger players, I think our guys realize that it’s their time now. We’re excited for this season and for the seasons to come. We knew it would take a lot of hard work and patience and even some bumps along the way but I’m proud of how this group has always held their heads high, worked hard and are now ready to win.”