Men's Golf Head Coach
It might not be an unfair comparison to call John Jasinski a gardener. However, instead of using a shovel and mulch to make his garden grow, the fourth-year Irish head coach has used patience and a deep base of knowledge and experience to help fertilize his dream of turning the Notre Dame men[apos]s golf team into a perennial championship contender.
Just the fifth coach in the storied 75-year history of Notre Dame golf, the veteran coach has already made his imprint on the program. He succeeded George Thomas who served as Notre Dame[apos]s head golf coach for 13 years (1989-01).
In just three seasons with the Irish, Jasinski already has made major inroads in recruiting high-level high school and junior golfers while also upgrading the schedule, as Notre Dame continues its return to prominence in the BIG EAST Conference and on the national golf scene.
Under Jasinski[apos]s tutelage, the Irish took a major step in their development in 2003-04, winning the BIG EAST Championship and making the program[apos]s first NCAA postseason appearance since 1966. Not content with simply making the NCAA regionals, Notre Dame then proved to be a more than worthy challenger, contending for a berth in the NCAA Championships right down to the final hole on the final day before finishing 12th overall in the 27-team field. Still, the Irish placed 12 spots higher than their No. 24 seed, a performance only two others teams could match.
Besides the league title and NCAA bid in [apos]03-04, the Irish also won the SMU/Stonebridge Invitational and placed second at both The Tillinghast and Rice Intercollegiate. In addition, Notre Dame fired the best 54-hole score in school history (863, +11) at The Nelson Invitational and carded the eighth-lowest single-season stroke average in the Irish record books (301.03). In fact, in Jasinski[apos]s three seasons at the helm, Notre Dame has registered three of the top nine season stroke averages in school history.
As he prepares to welcome another stellar freshman class in 2004-05, Jasinski[apos]s first two recruiting classes have yielded impressive early results. Of the eight golfers he has inked, six have stepped in and contributed right away, led by junior Scott Gustafson, who has the fifth-lowest career stroke average in school history (74.61), and sophomore Cole Isban, who is ninth on the Irish career stroke average charts (75.24).
[quote]With our first recruiting class coming in for 2002-03, I really wanted to test those guys early and see how they would stand up in the qualifying,[quote] said Jasinski.
[quote](Mark) Baldwin, (Tommy) Balderston, (Scott) Gustafson and (Eric) Deutsch all came in and competed immediately. That helped me gain a lot of trust in those guys right off the bat and I made a commitment to those four freshmen to give them a chance to get a good view of what Division I golf is like.[quote]
Jasinski[apos]s confidence in his rookies paid off, as the aforementioned quartet all wound up as regulars in the Irish starting lineup and posted four of the top five stroke averages on the squad in [apos]02-03.
Gustafson led the way with a 75.03 mark and five team-leading finishes, including a second-place showing at the BIG EAST Championship. He also was one of four Irish players (and three freshmen) to earn all-conference honors that season — Balderston, Baldwin and Brandon Lunke were the other all-BIG EAST picks. They helped Notre Dame come within an eyelash of its fourth BIG EAST title and first since the 1997-98 season. The Irish led through the first two rounds of the conference tournament and had a slim lead as the final groups approached the 18th tee at Notre Dame[apos]s Warren Golf Course. However, Virginia Tech just managed to nose out the Irish at the wire by two strokes in one of the closest finishes in BIG EAST Championship history.
The success of the past two years comes on the heels of a solid debut campaign for Jasinski, who spent time on the recruiting trail while evaluating the talent he already had at Notre Dame.
His 2001-02 team produced one Academic All-American, two Golf Coaches Association of America All-Scholar Team members and two all-BIG EAST performers. The Irish hosted the BIG EAST Championship at the Warren Golf Course where they finished second — the team[apos]s best conference finish since the 1998-99 tournament.
The first full-time coach in the history of the Notre Dame men[apos]s golf program, Jasinski knows what it takes to build a program into a major player on the national scene.
Jasinski came to Notre Dame from the University of Toledo where he served as the Rockets[apos] head coach from 1992-2001 and as the head PGA professional at Stone Oak Country Club in Toledo.
A 1983 Toledo graduate, Jasinski was associated with the Rockets[apos] golf program for 16 years. He played three years for the Toledo golf team and was an assistant coach for four seasons before taking over as the head coach in 1992.
In nine seasons as the Rockets[apos] head man, Jasinski[apos]s teams advanced to the NCAA Championship four consecutive seasons, reaching the regionals in 1998 and the finals from 1999-2001.
In naming Jasinski the new Irish head coach on August 14, 2001, Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White said, [quote]We are very excited to be naming John Jasinski as the golf coach at Notre Dame. He brings outstanding credentials to the program and has a history of success at the University of Toledo. With John as our full-time coach, plus the addition of scholarships and our facilities at the Warren Golf Course, we have now put our men[apos]s golf program in the position to compete on the national level.[quote]
It was readily apparent from the moment Jasinski arrived on the Notre Dame campus that he was excited about the challenges and possibilities he would have with the Irish.
[quote]It[apos]s all about developing a champion and having the tools to do it. Notre Dame has such a rich tradition of athletic and academic success, it[apos]s going to allow our golf programs to recruit successfully nationally,[quote] said Jasinski.
In his final season at Toledo, Jasinki[apos]s squad finished second at the Mid-American Conference Golf Championships for the fourth straight season. From there, Toledo advanced to the NCAA Regionals where the Rockets finished eighth and then the NCAA Championship where they were 18th.
The 1997 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Coach of the Year, Jasinski had two of his golfers selected first team all-MAC, one second-team player and the 2000-01 MAC Freshman of the Year in Brad Heaven. Jasinski[apos]s Toledo program also produced three Academic All-Americans and one honorable mention All-American.
As a golfer at the University of Toledo, Jasinski was the winner of the 1983 Bill Duschl Memorial Award, given to the University of Toledo golfer who contributes the most to the success of the team.
He played six years (1989-91, 94-96) in the National Club Professional Championship and also played in the 1986 National Foot-Joy Assistants Championship.
He qualified for the PGA Tour[apos]s first and second stage in 1986 and earned PGA Northwest Ohio Player of the Year honors in 1989. In 1998, he was selected Northern Ohio Teacher of the Year and served on the Toledo Junior Golf Advisory Board from 1989 to 1998.
Jasinski was named the second-ranked instructor in Ohio by Golf Digest and was listed among Golf Magazine[apos]s top 400 instructors in the country during 2000.
Having been a teaching pro will benefit current and future members of the Notre Dame golf team. Jasinski enjoys the challenge of working with young golfers.
He says, [quote]I enjoy coaching golf because I have a natural competitiveness inside myself. With golf, there is a finite test in front of you. The intangibles are relatively small in golf because of the scorecard. Performance is staring you right in the face – either you get it done or you don[apos]t. That creates a fabulous environment for coaching.[quote]
To that end, Jasinski also has teamed with Notre Dame assistant coach Chris Whitten to create the Irish Golf School, which debuted in the spring of 2004. The school offers specialized hands-on instruction for Irish family, friends, alumni and supporters at Notre Dame[apos]s Warren Golf Course. Jasinski and Whitten also will hold two-day instructional clinics in several cities around the country during the summer as part of the Irish Golf School.
According to Jasinski, Notre Dame has been in his blood for a long time. His father, Joseph, graduated from Notre Dame in 1953 after attending the University as the first-ever Evans Scholar (established by Chick Evans – prestigious caddy scholarship awarded for academic excellence and service to their club) in Ohio and the 100th chosen in the United States. He also was a member of the Notre Dame golf team his freshman year.
Jasinski and his wife Amy Jean have a daughter, Kate and four sons, Zachary, Ben, Sam and Luke. They currently make their home in nearby Granger.