Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy is a unique program that introduces children to the game of golf as early as age three. Their proprietary techniques get children not just interested in the game, but also engaged for years to come. You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter.
KCS: So Kate, tell us how you got into golf? Did you love it as a kid yourself?
KT: Actually I didn’t really like playing golf growing up – I had 5 uncles who were all avid golfers, but I was bored by it. I played other sports like basketball and soccer because I wanted to run!
I was living in NYC for 8 years when I finally took it up. A friend of mine was a devoted golfer and invited me to come play one weekend just before my 30th birthday. I immediately fell in love with it. I never looked back – I started playing seriously. It gave me a sense of being an athlete again. It allowed me to enjoy being outside and in the country, as well as the perseverance and the social aspect. It tapped into my creativity. I saw it in a completely different light than I did when I was a kid.
KCS: How did you know it was the right sport to be teaching children?
KT: I’ll never forget the first time I was on the course; I actually thought to myself it would be a great sport for children! I started to compete as an amateur since I had summers off as a teacher, and then I was encouraged to become an instructor through the LGPA. I started teaching at Montauk Downs in the summer of 2007. I had studied sports medicine and so I thought that my segue into golf would be to specialize in golf fitness. I soon realized “What am I doing? I have kids right here and no one wants to teach these young children!” I was already teaching creative movement in a preschool on the UES, and golf IS creative movement. I knew it would be great for young children to be playful at that age, to be creative and engaged. You can teach children anything, and golf was empowering to me – I wanted it to be empowering to children.
KCS: I love that you immediately knew you should be teaching and incorporating the creative movement into golf for kids. How did parents perceive the idea when you first approached them?
KT: I asked the director of my preschool to start an afterschool golf program, and when we asked UES parents – of course they loved that we would teach the children golf! Many of the parents were already players themselves. Plus, the children already loved the creative movement classes.
KCS: So how did you go from after school classes to Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy?
KT: I was teaching for two years on Mondays and Wednesdays, but then the kids graduated and went to kindergarten. However, they wanted to stay in the program, so I had to find a way to expand into new classes. I continued to run the program in the school, but took on the alumnae at Central Park. Also, now it was outside, instead the classroom!
Then I met my business partner Mari as I was teaching her two girls. We sat down for coffee and she said she wanted to help reach more children. She is the one who saw the beauty of the program and where it could go. I wanted to grow into other schools, but not like her – she saw the big picture. And thus, Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy was created!
KCS: That’s great! As a golfer myself, I like to see that golf is making a comeback with children.
KT: It’s definitely making a comeback with children. Since Mari and I met in 2010 and officially started UGA we are in between 15 and 20 after school programs seasonally and also offer approximately 25 classes a week in NYC Parks come spring (that you can sign up for right here on Kidz Central Station!) We also rent indoor spaces during winter months.
KCS: Yes, you can now sign up for spring classes right here! What ages do you offer?
KT: We start with age 3, and are expanding levels for 4-5 year olds now too. For children 10-12 years old, we even use a bus service to go to local golf courses.
Now the kids can progress through the levels. I do this for the children – its growing the child and giving them a whole program that’s creative and fun using early childhood skills.
KCS: So you believe golf is a great way for children to learn new skills for life, not just a fun sport?
KT: Golf is absolutely a great way to learn and start life skills in addition to being a fun, lifelong sport.. At UGA our focus is fun, while teaching the fundamentals of golf in child-friendly speak. We care about safe, silly, and successful. As children progress with our program and they advance developmentally, we become more technical, when they are ready. All along they are learning golf.
The class with the 3 year-olds is really an introduction – lots of listening skills, sports skills like throwing and catching a ball. Obstacle courses. Building an athletic foundation.
Parents get it, and trust that I will build a progressive program that will engage these learners through golf. We coach human beings that happen to be learning through golf. We use a whole child approach and make learning fun, setting the stage for their love of learning for a lifetime.