With a stellar track record as a player and in the teaching profession, Mike Blackburn enters his third season as the head men’s and women’s golf coach at Jacksonville University.
Since coming to JU, Blackburn has revitalized the golf programs and increased their visibility in the community and improving its play on the course each season.
On the women’s side, Blackburn oversaw JU put together its best season ever in stroke average – beating the previous record by more than five shots per round, with the school record for 54-hole score set by freshman Francesca Yong in the Atlantic Sun Conference championship.
That stellar play has seen the quality of JU’s schedule increase as well as the Dolphins ability to host events. This upcoming season, the JU women will host three events – starting with the Labor Day Shootout on the prestigious TPC at Sawgrass PLAYERS Stadium Course.
The men’s side continues to improve each season as well, just missing out on the first winning season in three years in the final two events of the season against one of the toughest schedules in program history.
A resident of Jacksonville for more than 40 years, Blackburn has served as a teaching professional at Marsh Landing Country Club for the past 13 – teaching a number of junior players that went on to play at the highest levels in collegiate golf.
"We are pleased to bring in Mike to take over our men’s and women’s golf programs,” said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander when Blackburn was hired. “Mike brings a vast knowledge of the game, both from a playing and teaching perspective that we were looking for during the search. His contacts, both in the sport and around the city, will be a major boost to our programs as we build towards the goal of fielding top-rate teams."
A two-year letterwinner at Florida, Blackburn turned professional in 1979 and won 10 mini-tour events over the next nine years. He has played in the U.S. Open and recently qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in 2006.
After spending a season on the PGA Tour in 1988, Blackburn turned his focus to teaching and has spent the past 19 years working at golf courses around Jacksonville – including The Ravines Golf Club, Baymeadows Golf Club and Windsor Parke Golf Club.
During his teaching career, he has worked with high-caliber players to beginners. Some of his most notable pupils are former PLAYERS champion Mark McCumber as well as Andy Bean.
"Mike’s reputation in this community and throughout the golf industry is one of tremendous character, dedication and passion for the game of golf,” said Bill Hughes, general manager of the TPC at Sawgrass. “As a former TOUR player and life-long student of the game, Mike Blackburn has the experience both on and off the golf course that is invaluable in an instruction, mentoring and coaching setting."