NMJC Golf Coach Named to Hall of Fame
6/10/2009 12:00:28 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. Carrying on the family tradition of accomplishment and excellence, New Mexico Junior College Golf Coach James Ross Black was recently inducted into the NJCAA Golf Hall of Fame. He and his brother Ronnie Black, who turned pro in 1981, are the only brothers ever selected to the prestigious Hall of Fame.
“I’m very honored and very humbled,” said Black. “You look at some of the names in there already—my brother Ronnie Black, Fuzzy Zoeller, Paul Azinger. There are some really big names in the Hall of Fame, so it’s an honor to be nominated, much less selected.”
Black’s induction coincides with his Thunderbird golf team’s best-ever finish at the NJCAA Division I Golf Championships in Huntsville, Alabama, this spring. Although NMJC came from eight strokes down on the final day of competition to force a playoff, they fell one stroke shy of their first national golf championship. Their amazing comeback and second-place finish, however, earned Black and his squad the respect and admiration not only of the NMJC campus but also the entire golf community. NMJC President Steve McCleery said, “All of the stars aligned, and I firmly believe if you do what you’re supposed to do and act the way you’re supposed to act, good things will happen.” He deemed the experience “a phenomenal feat” and shared examples of Black’s outstanding dedication in the classroom as well.
Black’s journey—and affiliation with NMJC—actually began several decades ago. “A lot of people don’t realize, but my dad was probably the third or fourth employee hired [at NMJC]” he said. “The background I’ve been able to have here is just very, very special,” said Black after sharing a memory of hanging backboards for his father’s basketball practices at an off-campus gym on the grounds of Ocotillo Park in the late 1960s.
Black’s father, Ross Black, who served as both coach and athletic director at NMJC in its early years, agrees that the family’s affiliation with NMJC has been special, “I have four sons, and three graduated from here and received the highest honor they could receive—the Thunderbird Award—at the end of the year. That makes me very, very proud.”
Black attended NMJC from 1972-75, competing on the golf and basketball teams and earning an Associate of Science Degree. He then attended Lamar University on a golf scholarship and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1977.
After graduating college, Black became a Class “A” PGA professional. He was also named the Club Corporation of America Golf Professional of the Year in 1987. Black became the golf coach at NMJC in 1991 and in the 19 years since has led his team to national competition 15 times. He has also served as the president of the Division I NJCAA Golf Coaches Association last season.
Black, in typical fashion, modestly credits those around him for his success, citing both the players he’s coached and the NMJC administration. “The only reason I’m at this point is because of the quality of the young men I’ve been able to work with,” he said. “It’s been a blessing. Some people aren’t real happy with the jobs they’re getting up for every day, but I love what I do.”
Although Black may generously share credit others for his successes on the green and in the classroom, when it comes down to it, his decades of self-discipline and personal commitment to excellence have made all the difference. And loving what you do for a living is a not only thanks for a job well done, but also fitting reward for a man who has officially risen to the ranks of legend.