Nov. 16, 2001
The name of the game is golf and a new era for both the men and women’s programs at Notre Dame has started
For the first time in the history of both golf programs, full-time coaches are at the helm, with plans to move Notre Dame golf on to the national golf scene.
Taking over this season from former coaches George Thomas (who remains as the program’s Director of Instruction) and Ross Smith is men’s coach John Jasinski and women’s coach Debby King. Both bring outstanding credentials to Notre Dame as both teaching professionals and collegiate golf coaches.
Jasinski spent the past nine years as the head golf coach at the University of Toledo and the head PGA professional at Toledo’s Stone Oak Country Club. His teams at Toledo advanced to the NCAA Championships in each of the past four years.
King was at the University of Memphis for six years where her teams also made five trips to the NCAA’s and won a pair of Conference USA titles in 1997 and 2001.
Both coaches joined the Irish athletic staff in August and the past two months have been a whirlwind of activity.
“It’s been pretty hectic since I got here, but you get caught up in the excitement of the change,” says King.
“This is a very busy time. We have our fall schedule and this is when we do our recruiting. I want to have two top-notch players signed in the early signing period in November. Things have gone well so far.”
Jasinski echoes King in looking back over the past eight weeks.
“Things have gone great these first two months. Coming in so late put us behind the eight-ball a little in getting to know the players here and in the recruiting process, but we are catching up,” says Jasinski.
A father of five (four boys and one girl), Jasinski’s family is still in Toledo waiting for dad’s hectic schedule to slow down.
“Being away from the family has been hard, but my wife Amy has been fantastic. She has taken our five children under her wing and taken on the responsibility of both mother and father. She is the real head coach in the family,” says Jasinski.
A Toledo native, Jasinski was involved with the University of Toledo golf program for 16 years, three years as a player, four years as an assistant coach and nine as head coach.
The new men’s golf coach also has Notre Dame in his blood – his father Joseph is a 1953 graduate and played on the golf team his freshman year. He was 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.
“I was born and raised on Notre Dame football and the quality of the University. My dad has a deep passion for Notre Dame and the game of golf. He loves both of those entities,” says Jasinski.
King is a native of Slidell, La., and played her collegiate golf at Florida Atlantic University. Following college, she moved to the professional ranks as an assistant golf pro in Florida before attending the LPGA Qualifying School. She played professionally for seven years on the Asian Tour and the Futures Golf Tour while also working as a teaching pro.
While both coaches come from different areas of the country and have different backgrounds, the one common thread that stands out is their abilities to teach the game.
In 1998, Jasinski was selected Northern Ohio Teacher of the Year and two years later was named the second-ranked instructor in Ohio by Golf Digest and was among Golf Magazine’s top 400 instructors in the country.
During her days as the teaching pro at Windyke Country Club in Memphis, Tenn., King was recognized as one of that state’s finest teaching professionals. In 1996, she was named the PGA West Tennessee Teacher of the Year and in 1997, the LPGA National Coach of the Year.
With both coaches, it’s easy to see that they really enjoy the teaching aspect of the game.
“When you help a player with their swing, or give them a mental idea that helps in some aspect of their game, then see their faces light up as they see the improvement, that’s what I enjoy most about coaching,” explains King.
Jasinski says, “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’t. That creates a fabulous environment for coaching.”
As the leaves change to their many autumn colors and the fall schedule winds down, both coaches have high hopes when looking not just to the spring season in 2002, but future seasons at the Warren Golf Course.
For King, who has hit the recruiting trail hard in her first two months, Notre Dame has plenty to offer a collegiate golfer.
“I think the prestige of coming to Notre Dame is important. The tradition of both academics and athletics at Notre Dame is what players and their parents are interested in. We have a great new golf course and plan to build a state-of-the-art indoor golf facility (part of the overall athletic master plan) in the future,” says King.
Jasinski adds, “It’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’s going to allow our golf programs to recruit successfully nationally and world-wide.”