A man of many titles, Mark Blackburn is coach, instructor, Director of Instruction at the Greystone Performance Center’s Blackburn Golf Academy, and most recently, winner of the 2020 PGA National Teacher and Coach of the Year.
As a coach, Blackburn has over 10 PGA Tour wins and currently coaches several Tour players, including Chez Reavie. An ESPN Coaching Vignette hosted by PGA shows the coaching relationship Blackburn and Reavie have fostered over seven years working together. Reavie tells the interviewer, “he’s like a brother, really. We’re not holding back. When I’m messing up, he tells me.” We hear Reavie over shots of his putting and driving practice, “We’re working on fundamentals as if we were beginners.” Blackburn agrees: “There’s no substitute for fundamentals: set-up, ball position, alignment, posture, the tilt of your body, your grip.” (Mark currently coaches the following golfers: Charley Hoffman, Chez Reavie, Kevin Chappell, Sean O'Hair, Mike Weir, Colt Knost, Heath Slocum, Brad Hopfinger, and Janie Jackson.)
Blackburn has made a huge impact on Greystone’s golf instruction in the six years he has been at the club—or, as he calls it—the Stone. He says in a letter to members that he wanted to “establish Greystone as a center of excellence for Teaching and Coaching.” This goal has manifested many accomplishments on Blackburn’s part: he helped create, and since improved the Greystone Performance Center (GPC) and Blackburn Golf Academy, which has recently received the honor of being a Titleist Regional Fitting Center. Under Blackburn’s leadership, Greystone golf boasts top-notch instruction. He has developed one of the most successful junior programs in the country, inclusive of being responsible for creating a Player Development Membership for young players ages 7-25 to be the member without their parents. Blackburn says, “the successes of all our students at every level are the instructional team's most significant achievement.”
Blackburn’s expertise isn’t just for the pros— Greystone members of all skill level can receive professional golf instruction at the GPC. One member under Blackburn’s tutelage is former NFL and Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy. Though McElroy began the coaching process with a 22 handicap, Blackburn saw his potential from the beginning. Blackburn says that McElroy “has a ton of speed” and is a “great athlete.” Within two years of coaching, Blackburn took McElroy’s handicap down to a seven. About that process, Blackburn says that they “worked hard on Greg’s swing,” but also “focused on the art of scoring.” He jokes, “Quarterbacks are receptive to the scoring playbook and can quickly improve!” Despite the lighthearted nature of his comments, they show how Blackburn tailors his coaching to meet the interests and learning styles of those with whom he works. Their goal is to get McElroy down to a scratch, but the coaching is currently limited due to his commitments on ESPN.
Greystone congratulates Mark Blackburn on his well-deserved honor. The Club is spoiled having Mark on their campus regularly, currently ranked #17 on Golf Digest’s top 50 Instructors and for seven straight years on Golf Magazine’s list of top 100 instructors. Greystone is proud to have him as its Director of Instruction and hopes members take advantage of the dedicated, knowledgeable coaching of Blackburn and his team. As Blackburn says, “there is no substitute for in person coaching at the Stone.”