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Kubinski targets nation’s best

Conor Kelly | Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Irish coach Jim Kubinski estimates that he communicates with 400 to 500 prospective student-athletes per recruiting class each year. Of that number, only two or three will enroll at the University and join the team.

The men’s golf team, though it has no limit on the number of players it can carry on its roster, is limited to 4.5 scholarships and subjected to rigorous of academic standards, a challenge that Kubinski thinks can be an advantage as well as a hindrance.

“Our academic standards just to recruit a player, never mind admit them, are very high and that obviously eliminates a lot of great players — we estimate up to 75 percent of the talent pool,” Kubinski said. “But at the same time we want to recruit the right kids, ones who will be a good fit for the team and for the University.”

Going along with the general trend in college athletics, the recruiting schedule has advanced over Kubinski’s seven years at Notre Dame, with schools and players seeking earlier commitments. Though he can’t contact amateur players until Sept. 1 of their junior year, Kubinski said many contact coaches much before that.

“It used to be that players took senior year visits, but now schools are looking for early verbal agreements,” Kubinski said. “In order to keep up with the top schools in the country, we need to target the same kids that they are.”

Though Kubinski is limited in his ability to give early offers by Notre Dame’s strict academic standards, that does not stop him from going after the top players in the country. Each Sept. 1, Kubinski contacts the top 100 players in the country, players that he has seen over the summer on national junior tours and on trips squeezed in between practice and competition during the year.

“Of the few hundred or so that we contact, we end up offering spots to about three or four golfers,” Kubinski said. “We usually land about 50 percent of our offers.”

Unlike football or basketball, walk-ons to the golf team are rare. There have been three in Kubinski’s seven years at the helm.

“Golf is a tough sport for a walk-on because it is so competitive, and in order to compete we have to go after the best players in the country,” Kubinski said. “That’s not to say that there is no chance. We did have a walk-on in 2007 who ended up an all-Big East selection, but that’s the exception, not the rule.”

Two members of Notre Dame’s projected 2012 recruiting class will join the team next year.

Between academics, golf, and competition from other universities, the sieve through which potential recruits are sifted is very fine. What falls through, Kubinski hopes, will be pure gold.

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