Mike Blackburn enters his 11th season as the Head Men's Golf Coach at Jacksonville University for the 2018-19 year.
Currently the second-longest tenured coach in the department, Blackburn followed up a breakout performance in the 2016-17 season with another dominant campaign last year. Coming off their second-ever team appearance in the NCAA Regional and their first trip to the NCAA Championship in program history, the Dolphins set a program mark for a 36-hole performance and achieved the best team ranking in school history, climbing to No. 41 in GolfStat's weekly rankings.
Under Blackburn's watch, the 2017-18 squad posted their second victory in three years at the Bridgstone Stroke Play, and defeated cross-town rival North Florida in a match play event at Pablo Creek Golf Club. A record six 'Phins earned ASUN Conference postseason honors, with freshman Michael Sakane becoming the first JU golfer to take home Freshman of the Year Honors.
Sakane and senior Raul Pereda went on to earn ASUN All-Tournament Team Honors, with Pereda ending his Dolphin career with the lowest single-season scoring average in school history.
Since coming to JU, Blackburn has revitalized the men's and women's golf programs and increased their visibility in the community by improving play on the course each season.
Blackburn has guided the men's team to eight team titles since taking over in 2008, including a pair of wins in the Donald Ross Intercollegiate in 2014 and 2015, and in the GolfWeek Program Challenge in 2015 and 2016.
The Dolphins advanced to just their second-ever NCAA Regional in 2017, earning the school's first-ever at-large bid. The 42nd-ranked 'Phins came back from as many as 10 strokes down in the third round, and won a sudden-death tiebreak playoff with No. 29 Northwestern to earn the fifth and final spot in the NCAA Championships from the Baton Rouge Regional, their first appearance in program history.
Blackburn has helped the program achieve their two highest national rankings in program history during his tenure. JU was ranked as high as 41 during its NCAA National Tournament run in 2017, and was placed 68th during the 2015-16 season. The team has also played the nine lowest rounds in program history with Blackburn at the helm.
Jacksonville has earned 14 All-ASUN awards over Blackburn's 10 year coaching career. David Wicks was the 2017 ASUN Golfer of the Year, and become just the second Dolphin to be honored on an All-American squad, recieving an Honorable Mention from the Golf Coaches Association of America.
As the coach of the women's team from 2008-2011 , 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 (at the time) for 54-hole score set by freshman Francesca Yong in the Atlantic Sun Conference championship in 2010.
A resident of Jacksonville for more than 40 years, Blackburn has served as a teaching professional at Marsh Landing Country Club, 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 then-JU Athletic Director 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 spent 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 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."