Kasey Dive: Doing It For The Kids

Kasey Dive gets a buzz from teaching kids how to play golf.

The PGA of Australia and ALPG member has created her own unique stamp with a junior golfing development program at Lane Cove Country Club on Sydney’s lower north shore.

Kasey Dive Kasey Dive (centre) with her students at Lane Cove Country Club (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Dive’s aim is to introduce the game to school children of any age and, most importantly, make it an exciting and fun experience.

The clinics started eight months ago with a handful of local kids from Greenwich Primary School and has progressed to over forty students from all schools attending one of the six classes that run after school each week through the Blue Fit operation.

“The interest has been amazing,” says Dive, who splits her time between being Head Professional at Lane Cove Country Club and playing the Australian Ladies Professional Tour.

“I love the teaching aspect of the game and I am planning to direct my career towards coaching and investing more time in the development of junior golfers.”

Accessibility and affordability, perennial watchwords of junior golf, have never been more relevant.

The importance of the roles the local council golf course and professionals like Dive have in fostering the game should never be underestimated or undervalued.

Council authorities are often too quick to look at the financial costs of providing public courses, as opposed to the intangible benefits their facilities provide to the broader community.

Many Australian professionals got their first golfing experiences playing council courses.

Nick Flanagan, Aron Price, Matt Griffin, James Nitties are just a few. Japan Tour player Neven Basic actually started his playing days at Lane Cove Country Club.

With limited access to the more established clubs, many of which do little or nothing towards fostering junior development programs, the local ‘track’ provides the essential starting point for most of our emerging players.

Dive and other PGA teaching professionals provide the much needed conduit between the golfing grass roots and the elite world tours in the hope of producing our next Norman, Webb, Scott, Allenby or Day.

“Golf is certainly taking off as a alternative sport for kids,” says Dive, who was the Junior Development Officer for the Jack Newton Golf Foundation between 2007-10.

“Once I got my program off the ground and had approval from Council, I had many parents expressing interest about their children joining. A lot assumed golf was for the older kids and clinics for 6-7 year-olds weren’t available. I have a great mix of talent and ages. The kids love the games and competition we run. At this stage it’s all about fun.”

Today’s juniors are winning at an earlier age. With his victory at the 2010 US Junior Amateur, Jim Liu, at 14 years, 11 months and 22 days, became the youngest-ever national champion, breaking the previous record set by Tiger Woods, who was seven months older than Liu when he won the first of his three junior titles.

Girls historically have been the ones making headlines. At 13, Alexis Thompson won the US Girls’ Junior and battled with officialdom to gain LPGA Tour starts because she was perceived as being too young.

In January, 14-year-old New Zealander, Lydia Ko, won the Women’s NSW Open to become the youngest player – male or female – to win a professional event, and she has been number one on the women’s world amateur rankings for nearly 12 months.

“You never know who might be the next superstar,” says Dive.

“That’s the thrill of coaching. Helping and watching kids develop. Some take it up quickly, others need some encouragement. But most of all at this age it’s about fun.”

Dive is quick to point out that the perfect age to start playing golf is not a one-size-fits-all question.

“Much depends upon the individual,” she says.

“Certainly, the earlier you can provide instruction and have kids playing on the course the better. The child must have their own desire to play and they need to have a balance. Team sports are also important. That’s why we play a lot of team games each week in our clinics.”

Dive started playing golf as a 14-year-old at Murrumbidgee Golf Club in Canberra. Her family then moved to Tea Gardens in Port Stephens, about an hour north of Newcastle.

Dive continued her junior golf at Hawks Nest Golf Club and did stints for Newcastle and NSW Golf Clubs in Grade 1 Pennants before starting her traineeship and a career in golf.

Turning professional in 2004 and commencing her traineeship at Merewether Golf Club in Newcastle, Dive did her formative years under Peter Johnston before moving to Sydney and finishing with Colin Bishop at Ashlar Golf Club.

Her maiden professional win came at the 2011 Ladies New Britain Open and that season Dive went on to finish 41st on the ALPG Order of Merit.

Throughout her career Dive has maintained an unwavering belief in simple and repeatable golf instruction. Her teaching techniques include a strong focus on solid contact and creating the feeling that addicts people to the game.

“There is nothing better than seeing that look on your student’s face when it all comes together – when they hit that sweet shot. It’s a motivating factor for both the student and myself,” says Dive.

Dive is a non-technical coach, but appreciates that teaching professionals need to understand the technical side to the swing.

“We need to be skills teachers and get away from being style teachers. In teaching we want to create enjoyment. Everyone wants to enjoy the game, if they like playing, they get enthusiastic about golf.”

Dive’s vision began with her after-school junior coaching clinics at Lane Cove Country Club and her idea and approach towards teaching has shown its weight in gold.

Numbers are growing with her clinics to a stage where there is now a waiting list to get into classes. Kids are taking up the sport – many electing to play golf over tennis and soccer – which is a good thing for our sport.

“I take just as much pride in teaching the beginner to the established player,” Dive says.

“It’s all about fun and letting the kids experience the thrill of hitting that solid shot. If we really want the game to grow, this is what we must do.”