Mark Blackburn is Golf Digest's Top Teacher In America

For the first time since 1999, Golf Digest has a new number 1 teacher in America.  After over two decades at the top of the Golf Digest Best Teachers list, the legendary Butch Harmon is turning over his top spot to TPI instructor, advisory board member and friend, Mark Blackburn.  

Though Butch's impact on golf instruction and run as number one will be difficult to match, it's hard to ignore Mark's ascendance into one of the premier teachers in the game. 

If you've watched even a minute of PGA TOUR golf in 2023, there's a good chance you saw one of Mark's students hanging around the top of a leaderboard.  His stable includes Max Homa, Justin Rose, Adam Hadwin, Charley Hoffman, Chez Reavie, Trey Mullinax, Davis Riley, Hudson Swafford and Daniel Berger, just to name a few.  He also recently started working with Vanderbilt standout Gordon Sargent and two-time major champion Collin Morikawa.

While it's impossible to count all of the reasons why Mark is such an effective coach, we wanted to highlight a few of the things that stand out to us.

Mastering the Art and Science of Coaching

Mark’s academy at Greystone Country Club in Birmingham, AL is one of the most advanced studios in the world.  It's outfitted with best technology available, including AMTI force plates, multiple 3D systems (including AMM3D) and virtually every brand of launch monitor on the market. 

Mark doesn’t use technology to impress students or social media followers, but because he wants to know everything and, most importantly, he understands the science well enough to make it approachable and actionable for his students.

One thing we appreciate about Mark, both as a golf instructor and an educator, is his ability to efficiently explain complex concepts.  It's not only that he's a gifted speaker (a literal ‘one-take wonder’ anytime we film something), but is evidence of his subject matter knowledge and commitment to learning. 

Listen to him highlight the importance of anterior-posterior force in the golf swing.  Truly believe there are only a handful of coaches in the world who could explain this as effectively as him.


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By being able to distill information into something that is both digestible and practical for his student is critical, but the ability to implement it in the swing (using foam pool noodles as external cues or a practice station built out of PVC pipe for feedback) is what makes him a great teacher.  At TPI, we've built our business around studying the science of the golf swing, but the information would mean very little if it weren't for artful coaching. 


Assess, Don’t Guess

We’re a company that teaches assessments so we’ll admit bias here, but you don’t become as accomplished and effective as Mark is by guessing.  Screening is an integral part of the student-intake process at his academy.

"At my academy, we mandate that every student has to be physically screened the first time we see them. You create that culture..." 

Insights from physical screening, 3D and force plates help guide his teaching.  By understanding how a golfer is able to move, Mark has better insight into why a student swings the way they do and which technical recommendations may or may not match their movement profile.  

Here's Mark explaining the importance of movement screening at one of our seminars:


Infinite Swing Solutions, Not One Swing Style

The Fried Egg podcast isn't necessarily a place you’d go for discussion around game-improvement or instruction, but they recently stumbled into a nuanced conversation about physical matchups while lauding Mark as one of the best coaches in the game.   

In a recent episode, TFE founder Andy Johnson was joined by Shane Bacon and Kyle Porter.  The premise of the episode was for each personality to bring five figures or organizations in golf who “won” in 2023. One of the names that Shane offered was Mark Blackburn. 

While the recognition is probably humbling, the ensuing discussion underscored why he’s such an effective teacher echoed the virtues of the Body-Swing Connection.  

Here’s a transcript of the conversation between Andy, Shane and Kyle. 

SHANE BACON: I feel like he's become the new guy in terms of golf instruction, Max took that huge leap over the last few years. Max has worked with him. Justin Rose flipped his game this year working with Mark.  I've heard some rumors that a certain two-time major winner that maybe just had a little bit of success across the pond has been working with Mark over the last few weeks and things have changed for him.

I asked Max [Homa], what makes Mark so great, and as Max does, he sent me an amazing response. He said:

MAX HOMA: “I think he understands matchups really well. So basically cause and effect. It's not cookie cutter. I think people appreciate that you can do X if you do Y type of thing, and it doesn't have to be perfect for the whole golf swing, just efficient for your body. He just feels like a new age voice and eyes when it comes to golf swing in the professional ranks. And I feel like more of these top 15 players are going to go to Mark if they need any help over the next few years.”

KYLE PORTER: That seems like such a modern philosophy where I'm going to try to fit what I do to your body, your game, your mind, rather than the other way around. I feel like 20, 30, 40 years ago, it's like, oh, I've got the answers. You need to change what you do to fit my philosophy,

ANDY JOHNSON: The information today is just so much greater, but the idea of looking at someone in finding a golf swing that fits them is such just a refreshing way. The idea of not, Hey, this is how you have to swing a golf club. And I think that's the beauty of what's happened in golf instruction recently.

When interviewed on the Golf Channel about their relationship, Justin Rose had a similar response as Max:

"What I like about Mark is that a lot of his guys have varying technique. What he's given me a greater understanding of is it's not just about how [my swing] looks, but how its functioning and working for me."

It's function over style.  It's not about how the swing looks in comparison to the best in the world, it's about how it works for you.  As our core philosophy about the golf swing states: There are an infinite number of ways to swing a golf club, but your most efficient swing is based on what your body can physically do.

Mark would be the first to acknowledge that there are hundreds coaches deserving of being named Golf Digest's Best Teacher in America.  That said, it’s a well-deserved honor that reflects the impact he’s had on his student’s and the teaching community.  


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