Now in his 27th year as the Buckeyes’ head coach, Jim Brown has built Ohio State golf into one of the finest and most respected collegiate programs in the nation.
The numbers are impressive. Under Brown’s guidance, the Buckeyes have qualified for the NCAA tournament 25 times, 11 times finishing in the top 10, while claiming one national championship in 1979. Ohio State also has dominated Big Ten play, winning 16 conference titles. Overall, the team has captured 150 tournaments during Brown’s tenure.
When the Buckeyes won the national title in 1979, it marked the first time in nearly two decades a northern school claimed the championship. Brown proved the ’79 season was no fluke as the program finished fourth in the NCAA’s in 1980, 1983, 1987, and again in 1997.
Brown earned National Coach-of-the-Year honors in both 1979 and 1986, and was named District IV Coach of the Year in consecutive seasons from 1977 through 1980 and again from 1982 through 1987. He also coached the NCAA All-Star Team that competed in Japan in 1979 and the 1999 Palmer Cup team that defeated a team of top collegiate players from Great Britain and Ireland.
Golf hasn’t been the only thing on Coach Brown’s mind during his tenure at OSU though. He takes great pride in the fact that his golfers are student-athletes in the truest sense of the word. In fact, Brown boasts a 99.9 percent graduation rate in his 24 years at OSU, with just two golfers not earning their degrees.
His greatest personal achievement, however, came in 1989, when he was elected to the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame. Two years later, he was inducted into The Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Brown also was inducted into the Martins Ferry High School Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Ohio High School Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994.
Brown has long been a leader in college golf, serving as president of the National Golf Coaches Association from 1990 to 1992. He is currently a National Board Member of College Golf Fellowship, and he served on the NCAA’s Executive Golf Committee from 1990-96. In addition, the Ohio State mentor has been a member of both the All-American Selection Committee and the NCAA District 4 Selection Board.
The winningest coach in OSU golf history, Brown has tutored one NCAA individual champ (Clark Burroughs – 1985), 11 Big Ten medalists, 77 all-Big Ten selections, 11 first team All-Americans and 39 other All-American honorees during his stay on the Columbus campus.
A native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, Brown is a 1966 Ohio State graduate. He played both basketball and golf for the Buckeyes, earning three letters in each sport. Captain of the OSU golf squad as a senior, Brown began his coaching career in 1967 at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., and in 1969 moved to Kent State.
Brown, who served as the head golf coach and assistant basketball coach at Kent State, left there in 1973 to become the ninth golf coach in Ohio State history. He is married to Tina Lankard and has two children, Julie, who is an OSU grad, and Jeff, a former member of the golf team and 1999 OSU graduate.
Tourney Big Ten NCAA Year Won Lost Tied Pct. Wins Finish Finish 1973-74 146 60 0 .709 5 2nd 20th 1974-75 162 30 0 .844 6 2nd 10th 1975-76 244 21 0 .921 12 1st 10th 1976-77 190 30 0 .864 7 1st 9th 1977-78 224 24 0 .903 11 1st 20th 1978-79 204 13 0 .940 8 1st 1st 1979-80 251 32 0 .887 8 1st 4th 1980-81 211 55 0 .793 7 2nd 24th 1981-82 198 34 0 .853 6 1st 15th 1982-83 237 3 0 .988 9 1st 4th 1983-84 215 13 0 .943 8 1st 17th 1984-85 194 25 0 .886 9 1st 16th (tie) 1985-86 170 35 0 .829 6 1st 13th (tie) 1986-87 179 21 2 .891 7 1st 4th 1987-88 154 64 1 .705 4 2nd 23rd (tie) 1988-89 151 49 2 .752 5 1st Regionals 1989-90 194 54 0 .782 2 1st 10th 1990-91 190 61 3 .754 4 2nd 24th (tie) 1991-92 145 25 0 .853 4 2nd 27th 1992-93 188 57 2 .763 3 2nd 20th (tie) 1993-94 168 55 0 .753 4 4th Regionals 1994-95 171 43 0 .799 4 1st 5th 1995-96 169 65 2 .720 4 1st Regionals 1996-97 206 34 2 .851 4 1st 4th Totals 4,562 903 14 .832 148 – –
What are the goals that you have for the Ohio State Golfers?
First, and most importantly, is that I want all of our players to earn a college degree. Our program has been extremely successful over the years in this area in that almost every athlete has received his diploma. I am as proud of that record as I am of the record our team has established playing the game.”
Secondly, is that one can develop his abilities to the maximum during his collegiate career at Ohio State. I have been a PGA professional for 19 years and feel that I can help improve one’s skill level to the utmost. We want every player in our program to feel that he has had every opportunity to learn and to improve and to become the best he can be.
My thought is that after four years an athlete should be able to look back and feel that he has been educated, that he has improved his golf ability and that he has been happy and had some fun. If a player finishes his career with those thoughts, then I feel I have done my job with him.
How do you recruit a golfer to come to Ohio State? What do you look for in a prospect?
Academics are important to me, just as important as golf skills. I look for the student-athlete who has been successful both academically at the high school level and athletically in state and national tournament competition. I look for good student-athletes who are interested in earning a college degree. I fell that if a golfer chooses Ohio State, he will know, after four years of challenging competition and improving his golf skills, whether he is ready for the PGA Tour. If not, he has his degree to go to work for him.
What separates Ohio State from other college programs?
Ohio State has a rich golfing tradition. I feel that Ohio State golf is known and respected around the United States as one of the finest collegiate programs in existence. We have all the ingredients to be a highly successful, nationally competitive golf program. The athletic department has supported our program so that we travel to play a highly competitive schedule. Our facilities are the best in the country, with the Scarlet Course rated by Golf Digest magazine as the No. 1 collegiate course in the nation. we have the availability of the Muirfield Village Golf Club, the Scioto Country Club and The Golf Club for the team to play on. All three of these courses are ranked in the top 30 in the world.
Our program has produced some of the greatest players in the world – Jack Nicklaus, along with Tom Weiskopf, Ed Sneed, John Cook, Joey Sindelar and Chris Perry, all of whom have made their mark on the PGA Tour. Ohio State has had 22 players earn their PGA Tour card and 12 of them have played for me.
How can a Northern school like Ohio State do so well in golf?
The primary prerequisite for developing a quality program is to get good, competitive golfers. The pride, tradition and heritage in the golf program at Ohio State, along with the outstanding facility and the quality of the institution, help in attracting good players. The opportunity for travel to play late fall and early spring tournaments, along with the winter conditioning program, offers a full schedule of activities. We have been very competitive over the years on the national scene and have had great golfers coming out of Ohio State.
What do your golfers do in the off-season to stay sharp?
All players work out regularly. We hit balls in the French Field House two hours a day, six days a week. No one in the country hits as many balls as we do during January and February. The winter layoff is good for our golfers. They need it to recharge their batteries. Most of our players come from the Northern states and are not accustomed to playing year round. At the beginning of our schedule in late February and March, we travel south for practice and tournaments, so we don’t really have an extended winter layoff.
We also have a Nautilus and a running program to keep ourselves in the best possible shape. And, for a number of years now, our team has entered, and even won, the intramural basketball tournament. I have always felt that the collegiate experience is more than just golf.