Monday, December 12, 2011


“When meeting people from a foreign culture, offer a few gifts that reflect your interests as a gesture of friendship. Better yet, give things you’ve created yourself. Also, explore their interests and their culture. Ultimately, the best way to forge a lasting friendship is to create something together. Whether it’s a meal, an art project or a spontaneous dance party, when you create something with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.” – International Diplomacy Guidebook

That was the quote that sat on the big screen as we walked into Blueman Group last week. Needless to say, it sat with me, too. I loved the performance—it was moving and engaging and a thrilling treat—and I just kept coming back to this original quote. It’s what I try to do with the children in my program. It’s what I always talk about--- getting on their level. Listening. Being present. But the quote also put it into new words for me—creating something. Yes. Creating.
We create experiences, memories. We create a moment together. It’s not about the golf swing, it’s about the experience surrounding that moment. It’s about how we learn, the ways in which, in that classroom, we come together.
Getting on a child’s level isn’t about teaching them something. It’s not about imparting wisdom, projecting a learning system. It’s about sharing something. It’s an offering. It’s saying: “For this hour, this afternoon, I am yours. I will be completely present for you. I will offer you what I know in exchange for what you know, and we will make something together.”
The shared experience then becomes something they can be free in. Be themselves in. We have rules, of course we do, but because I communicate in their language--- because I get on their level--- they are free to really open up. To begin to internalize and understand in a way that works for them.
I always say I do not set out to teach golfers, I set out to teach the child. In the process, of course, the child teaches me. The child teaches me the way they learn. They teach me how to explore their own abilities with them--- what they need from a lesson, how they wish to move forward. By just being present, by offering, they instruct me on everything I need to know. It’s no wonder children keep coming back to the program. A love of golf develops from a love of the experience. From the love of the moment
Of course, The Blueman group was not referring to children. They were referring to diplomacy, to life. Try, in your interactions, to offer. Try to share. Instead of telling someone how you see it, try to listen to how they do. Hold space for them to express where they’re coming from. When you get on someone’s level, you open up the moment to be something bigger than the both of you. And that moment, that expansion, has the ability to last a lifetime.
Play in love,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


by guest blogger Lars J. Hanson

KTUGA's number one goal is to get children excited about playing golf. We believe that joy of the sport, of the experience, is what commits children to golf. Nothing makes us happier than seeing students empowered by their successes in our program!

This Thanksgiving season we are supremely thankful for having jobs where we get to do this everyday.

We are equally thankful when parents like Lars tell us how much they understand and appreciate the totality of our approach. One Saturday during class, Lars shared with Kate his appreciation for her technique. His feedback made Kate's heart sing so we asked him to write this blog.

Thank you Lars! Thank you KTUGA students!

Happy Thanksgiving from the entire KTUGA team.
Kate, Mari, Christy, Buddy, Eben, Deborah, Val, Gina Gr., Gina Go., Wally, Krystal


When I watch my son Graydon play golf with Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy, I see a child immersed in the lessons and flow of Play.

KTUGA offers a change of pace and place from the golf course and the driving range. Playing with a golf ball that doesn't travel all that far to begin with (or might even look more like a napkin ring) means that the focus won't be on how far the ball was hit. Rather, the focus can be on how the ball was hit.

Playing golf in Central Park and not at a golf course means that Graydon is engaging his imagination as he devises the par level and creates the course.
Expectations that usually come with playing on a golf course or at a driving range are not really applicable because the usual pressures are not there when “playing to learn” with KTUGA.

I also appreciate how Graydon’s confidence thrives when he is designing a golf course in Central Park. He is having fun while he makes choices about the obstacles and the par level, refining his technique as he plays the course he has just created.

Because Graydon has been playing golf for three years, sometimes it is easy for me to forget that Graydon is only eight years old. And guess what? Eight year-olds enjoying playing!

Kate really gets that about kids and golf and that is the primary focus of KTUGA’s curriculum and how the entire team teaches/plays golf. When Graydon turned 7 we approached Kate to lead a Birthday Party for Graydon and a number of his friends.

Graydon and his friends had a blast in the gymnasium because the party wasn't all about golf. Games incorporating balance and ball trajectory were mixed in amidst running, leaping and a scavenger hunt.

I have always been grateful to KTUGA because they understand the invaluable role that Play serves in teaching the fundamentals of Golf to beginners and youngsters. Graydon loves his lessons with KTUGA, is steadily improving as a golfer and I am most certain he is hooked for life.

-Lars Hanson

Lose Yourself

You know those moments where the stars align, the universe opens, and you just loose yourself? Sometimes it can happen in nature—on a hike, witnessing the perfect sunset. Sometimes it can happen in a conversation with a loved one. And sometimes, like last night, it can happen at a rock concert.
I went to see a band I’ve loved for a long time, and they played a song that has been a favorite of mine. The music began to surround me and all of a sudden I felt myself opening to the moment. I was totally and fully present in my life—right here and now. We often talk about “losing ourselves” in the moment, but that loss of self is actually self-realization. It is total awareness. And it’s what I find every single day that I teach.
It is a gift and a blessing to have the knowledge that you are right where you need to be in this life. I know when I teach, when I’m with the children, that there is nowhere else in the world I should be, and no one else I should be with. It’s the deepest, purest kind of presence—it’s knowing that the moment is exactly as it should be.
There are times in our lives where we cannot be where we need to be, not in the way I just mentioned. Duty calls. Money needs to be made. People need to be fed. Hearts need to be healed. Life is a journey and not every moment will be one we relish. The trick, then, is to let the moments that DO feel divine, that open us up, to act as reminders. Feeling present is not dependent on circumstance, but instead on attitude. It’s a choice. Am I going to love what I do, and give my all to it? Or am I going to suffer through my day? And as we move with that attitude, the attitude of grace, we begin to get clearer and clearer about what we want in our life—how to follow our heart to the path where our circumstances match our internal landscape, our attitude.
It’s not always easy. There are days when it feels like being present is no more than a pipe dream—like picking up in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday and deciding to go to Paris. Sometimes we need to do those things, to live spontaneously. Sometimes our life is calling us to just hop a plane. But other times, most times, we are just called to pause. To be present. To appreciate. And to know you are on your way. Even if you are not in Paris, if you’re not a rock star up on that stage, you are on the path. Simply by being, you are on the path.
Do I think that band woke up one day and had a bestselling, platinum album? Absolutely not. Were there tough days, years of being starving artists? Of course. But they hung in because they knew they were on the path. And the path delivered them where they needed to go.
I think the thing we often don’t realize is that the very core of life is a process. There is no “there,” there is just becoming. We are all works in progress. The children remind me of this constantly. They remind me to not think about some day far off in time where “it will all be worth it,” because it’s worth it right now. The worth is in the moment. It’s in getting on a seven year old’s level and watching him smile. It’s in playing a warm-up game with a five-year old girl and seeing the pride on her face as she picks up a club. Real success is honoring the path. It’s understanding that happiness does not come from reaching the mountaintop, but from enjoying the climb. It’s in living every moment—washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, running, cooking, working-- like you’re playing to a sold-out stadium.
Lose yourself in a moment today. Trust me, you just may find something else.
Play and love,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Get Off the Bus!

I like to tell the following story about my uncle Brian:
He’s a big golfer, and once a year he goes over to Ireland with his buddies to play a few rounds of golf on the gorgeous Irish courses. They always rent a van and on this particular trip, and for the purposes of this particular story, they were making their way from one course to another, and en route to a hotel. They were passing a bar my uncle had heard of and he wanted to stop. “Let’s have a drink,” he pitched to the group. No one agreed. It was late. They had an early-morning tee time. Who cares about some bar? Let’s just get to where we’re going.
But my uncle persisted. He had a feeling. He wanted to go to this bar! He made the bus pull over and with just one other guy, he got off. They went to the bar for a drink--- a small place, definitely off the map. It was packed. Jammed to the brim. My uncle thought hey, he was right, this place was a hit! Just then some musicians came in to play. People cheered, slammed down beers. My uncle and his buddy listened to Van Morrison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ron Woods for the next couple of hours.
When my uncle tells the story he always ends it this way: Sometimes, Kate, you gotta get off the bus.
A few weeks ago, my uncle invited me on that same golfing trip. He offered to fly me over, put me up, play with me. I could, of course, think of a million reasons not to go. KTUGA is just back from summer. We’re starting new programs, picking up with our students. There is a ton of work to be done, work that needs my time and attention and presence. But then I remembered this exact story--- sometimes you gotta get off the bus.
I went.
It was an incredible trip, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to go. It was wonderful to spend so much time with my dear uncle, and to get to play on some of the world’s leading courses. But truth be told, the lesson was really the greatest part of the vacation—get off the bus. Often we think that saying “yes!” to things is a way of meeting a challenge--- of standing up to work, to difficulty, and bellowing our intention. This is true and it’s a big part of what I teach--- “Yes I can!” But sometimes saying yes is just getting off the bus. Sometimes saying yes is saying yes to adventure, to a change of course, to a silly idea no one has time for. Sometimes saying yes is giving yourself the opportunity to allow your ideas about success, progress, productivity-- to shift. It would have been prudent for my uncle to stay on that bus, to get a good night’s sleep and play a good round the next day. But he didn’t say yes to prudence, he said yes to something else--- some impulse of FUN. And he has a story now for the ages.
Think about getting off the bus this week. Think about saying yes to all aspects of your life--- to challenge, to adventure, to joy.
With love,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Saturdays with Lily

For the last three summers I’ve worked with a little girl named Lily. Lily is going into second grade this fall and we began our time together when she was just about to start Kindergarten. Saturdays with Lily are one of the highlights of my week. I’ve seen her grow from a shy, soft-spoken girl into a force to be reckoned with. Lily has some health challenges that make it difficult for her to do contact sports. Her mother, wisely, did not want Lily to miss out on physical activity and thought golf would be perfect for Lily---she was right. This is another thing I love about golf---how accessible it is to people of all needs. It’s truly a lifetime sport and something I feel blessed to journey.
Every Saturday Lily shows up for our lessons with a smile on her face. Her progress has been extraordinary, but that’s not what I want to share here. What I want to talk about is the ways in which Lily has made me a better instructor. I talk a lot about allowing students to be exactly where they are. I also say that it’s important for teachers to “get on their level.” Speak in language they understand, use games to demonstrate techniques. But the single most important thing I believe you can do as a teacher is to hold space for a child to be where they are, when they are. If they’re having an off day, be silly. If something isn’t working, change it, and change it again. Children are remarkably adaptable but as adults we sometimes forget how important it is to sway, to move. To shift. To be.
Working with young children is an incredible experience in presence. In order to hold space, to allow children to be exactly where they are, when they are there, I need to be present. That means I’m not thinking about outcomes. I don’t spend the lesson worrying about what their shot is going to be like at age fifteen or whether they are going to go pro. Those things will happen if they are right for that child and as that child reveals to me the directions they want to move in, we will move there. But the child must lead. The reason my program works is because I work with children, not above them. We’re in this together. As partners. Friends.
Saturdays with Lily are a constant reminder of my partnership with these children. Of the deal I make with them when they step into my classroom or onto my course: I will hold space for you to be exactly where you are, when you are there.
It hasn’t failed me yet.
Be where you are. When you are there. And then play there.
With love,

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Like-Minded Meeting

Last week I had lunch with sport psychologist legend Patricia Donnelly. She’s an incredible woman and a pioneer in her field. In 1998 she published an extensive study linking child development with golf instruction techniques--- incredible stuff, and what’s more, her findings exactly match my own philosophy. She writes: “Children of approximately 3 to 6 years of age enjoy moving their bodies in ways that are fun.” My early birdies are indeed close to my heart but Patricia and I share a passion for sustained learning. The point of starting children young is that they develop a love for the sport early on, and they can grow with and into it. Patricia goes on to say: “Similarly, a golf teacher could encourage children to find or make their own clubs using sticks or broomsticks…it would also add what Piaget referred to as animism, attributing lifelike qualities to inanimate objects, for example, pretending the club is a snake.”
Reading Patricia’s work I was not only encouraged (and validated!) but also extraordinarily motivated--- to keep reaching children in the way that I do. I’ve always known myself that our program works, that it’s effective, but seeing it printed in black and white and hearing her scientist take on it filled me with a supreme sense of purpose. We’re on the right track.
Patricia spoke a lot about how the industry simply wasn’t ready for this type of information fifteen years ago. There weren’t the PGA and LPGA initiatives there are now, initiatives to get junior golfers excited about and committed to the game. Patricia spoke about how she thinks sports instructors are going to start opening their eyes more and more to the reality that sports education is about just that, education. You can be the best golfer on the planet but if you don’t have the education resources to draw on, if you don’t know where your students are at developmentally, you can’t really succeed at teaching.
We spoke a lot about my program. I told her about our affirmations—“I can” before the golf swing. About the games we play and the tools we use. She loved it all.
Our meeting was wonderful for showing me we’re on the right track in our program, a program I have and continue to believe in with my whole heart, but it gave me something else, too. It gave me a mentor. I often advise young professionals to seek out someone who has done what they want to do and done it well. It’s important to have a point of reference, someone to look up. Even as a pioneer, on an unchartered path, there is always someone who has walked it before. That’s what I found so incredible about my meeting with Patricia: everything I do, everything I believe in, she believed in as well.
It’s a remarkable thing to find people who are on your path—ahead, behind or right next to you, side by side. They are reminders that we’re going the right way. No one’s personal or professional journey is exactly like anyone else’s. We all take our own detours, branch off in our own time. But finding like-minded people, people who when you speak and act stand up and say YES, are wonderful things indeed. They remind us of how important community is, and how we all play a roll in the lives of those around us.
This is why I want to get out there and train more instructors, teachers, parents. I want to create a dialogue about physical movement and development--- a dialogue that will remain. Because sometimes on the path you walk you have to stop and plant a tree so that someday, years from now, another traveler can pluck a fruit and be sustained. Patricia’s 1998 study was a seed. KTUGA is now ready to blossom.
PLAY golf,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Continued Education

Last week I woke up to an email from a mother of two girls that I used to teach years ago. I had recently re-connected with them out east last summer and the mother was writing to invite me her daughter’s last basketball game of the season. She told me how much her daughter would love to have me there and wondered if I might consider making a stop-by. I had been to another game earlier this year and saw about six other children I used to teach. It was amazing to touch down with these families I love, so when I got her email, I jumped at the opportunity.

I got to Sacred Heart at half time and was greeted with hugs and screams from the girls. Seeing their smiling faces reminded me, yet again, of why I love this job. How much I adore these children. I am so proud to contribute to moments of joy like this in a child’s life and to be someone they are excited to see, in class and outside---In the moment, and years later.

The experience made me think, as I often do, about how much more this job is than just golf or movement. It’s about play and love. It’s about being a role model, one they can look up to and at the same time directly in the eye. One that they know understands, and shares in their joys and successes. I love that I get to be a part of their education, and that I get to participate in their learning, growth and development. It’s a remarkable thing.

A few days after the big game I got another email, this time from the mother of a young girl I had in movement class who wanted to know if she could come to my Marymount program and be my helper. I was thrilled. She showed up with a smile on her face, ready to work. She listened to my instruction and was so helpful with the younger girls--- patient and calm--- she repeated the lessons she saw me giving. She was encouraging and playful and I was thrilled to have sparked her interest in not just golf, but also teaching. I love empowering students to feel like they have lessons to share and offer. It’s a wonderful gift to be of service to others and teaching is an incredible way to do it.

I am blessed to have a job that lets me be present and playful every single day. What I learned this week is that the thing I do has a long-term effect and that the lessons we share in the classroom don’t stop growing inside the children after they leave those physical walls. I am so proud of all of my students, young and old, and thank them for the way they teach ME daily.

Continue to learn, grow, teach and SOAR,