Ashland University junior Nick Blackburn feels his family and former coaches at Lutheran West High School groomed him for a possible professional golf career. (Photo courtesy of John Blackburn)
By Stefanie Kilnapp
Lutheran West High School graduate Nick Blackburn has progressed quite a bit since his younger days swinging his plastic club in the front yard in Westlake with his older brother Scott, who along with his father, John, started his interest in the game of golf.
“I grew up in a family that loved the game of golf,” stated Blackburn, a junior at Ashland University and a member of its golf team. “Not only the mechanics of the swing, but also how to apply golf into my personal life as I continue to get older.”
As he got older, the Blackburn family made imitation golf courses on their lawn, playing holes with Nerf balls. Blackburn said this jump-started his competitive nature because he could not stand losing to his brothers, Scott and Cory.
“Some of my best memories are going to Lakewood Country Club with my dad and brothers playing a couple holes,” he reminisced. “I have plenty of memories from high school thanks to my coach, Miss Wittrock, as well as the best teammates I could have asked for in Louis Durban, Ben Lehrke, Jared Fristik and Mike Clum. Our team liked to have fun during practice every chance we could.”
The transition to Ashland from Lutheran West was smooth because of the lessons he learned along the way, especially from his faith.
“The most important lesson I learned from Lutheran West is to not only praise the Lord when you win but also when you may lose,” he said. “I have realized that each tournament I may win or even lose, the Lord put me in that position so I can learn and improve as an individual, also to never lose faith in the Lord because I’m going through adversity and to never lose faith in myself when I may not be performing to my potential.
“The biggest transition has probably been the time commitment college golf creates compared to high school golf at Lutheran West,” Blackburn added. “Not only are the practices harder, but each week we have qualifying to see who is going to the tournament that given week because it is not clear who the top five golfers are for each week.”
Blackburn believes one should always thank the people who gave him the opportunity to succeed in the sport.
“If it were not for my parents driving me to practices and tournaments and always believing in me when I do not play well, I am not sure I would be as good a player as I am right now,” he said. “My parents could not love me more, and for that I am forever thankful for the Lord blessing me with them.”
Blackburn has gained skills playing golf for Ashland, and has highly improved his game, even from the simplest of techniques.
“I feel like I have improved in every part of my game especially in my course management,” he said. “In high school, I used to hit driver on each hole other than par-threes, obviously. Not knowing that hitting driver is not always the best choice off the tee in order to make a birdie.
“By not attacking tucked pins and not hitting driver of each tee, it has helped me take rounds in high school that probably would have been a 77 to now 72 and lower.”
Nick also enjoys the academic program at Ashland where he is majoring in business management, with a minor in marketing. He feels they offer a wonderful variety of programs to further one’s education in a variety of fields. He says that it is a top-notch education program and he feels very knowledgeable, more so than his friends who chose other schools.
There are other careers besides golf that Blackburn would like to pursue.
“My goal with my Ashland golf career is to possibly go after my dream of playing professional golf if I continue to get better,” he stated. “My coach, Darren Jones, has taught me so many life lessons that I would not lose sleep if I could not make it professionally. I have not had a coach that has taught me so many life lessons through golf other than my dad.
“I do plan on starting my own staffing company when I graduate. I plan to have my work ethic drive me in whatever I do for a living.”