Kate Tempesta — Early Childhood Educator and Golf Evangelist
“I walked into the library of this pre-school, and found life. I saw joy, and children learning and playing, and I knew that I wanted to be around that…It was a defining moment for me.”
Founder, Owner and President of Fun
Urban Golf Academy
New York City and Montauk, Long Island
As you can see, part of Kate Tempesta’s title at the Urban Golf Academy includes “President of Fun.” In fact, you don’t have to dig too deeply into her website to believe that she really does enjoy her life’s work. And I suspect that the source of that happiness is based on the fact that she’s combined two of the things she enjoys most in life. And those would be her love of children, and her love for the game of golf…which also seems to be a recipe for her success in business.
Kate Tempesta’s education, and her early career, focused on exercise science and fitness. She later transitioned to the educational arena where she created and taught the movement education program at St. Thomas More Play Group for ten years. After becoming an LPGA Teaching and Club Professional, she founded the Urban Golf Academy, located in the heart of New York City.
According to Kate, “Children are always my source of daily inspiration.”
With Kate at the helm over the past 12 years, UGA has delivered the joy of golf to at least 1,000 children each year. Most recently, Kate and her team have developed the Birdie Basics and Birdie Basics Pro boxes; a joint curriculum, lecture series, and utility kit that gives parents, teachers, and professional coaches the tools and access to implement UGA’s proven methods designed to turn their children and students into lifelong golfers…but more importantly, to empower them as individuals.
Kate has consistently been recognized by Golf Digest magazine as one of the best women teachers in the game of golf (which is even more remarkable, given that she was 30 years-old when she started playing.) She’s spoken on several panels about growing the game of golf, including the Inaugural PGA of America’s Junior Golf Summit, as well as the Youth & Family Golf Summit at a recent Merchandise PGA Show.
Additionally, the PGA of Canada invited Kate to take part in their professional development series, offering Canadian PGA members the opportunity to learn some of the best practices of UGA. These include UGA’s trademark “Birdie-isms”; which are effective and engaging metaphors that take the complex physical, mental, and emotional concepts of golf and make them both accessible and memorable for children.
Kate resides on the Upper West Side of New York City. In her spare time, you can find Kate kickboxing, swinging a sword and planning how UGA can positively effect children the world over. Kate believes in leaving each day a little better off than when it started…and I’m confident that hearing what she has to say will brighten your day.
Kate’s lost sense of purpose and disconnection with “her tribe” during her early years in New York City
The combination of circumstances that enabled Kate to find her true calling in life
Why Kate believes that play is such an important part of learning and personal development for children
How the Urban Golf Academy got started, and how it’s grown over the past 12 years
The concept and mission underlying the Birdie Basics program
What the USGA and PGA should be doing to grow interest in the game of golf at an early age
The common elements found in golf, kick boxing and sword fighting
Why the mind / body connection is essential in the game of golf
On how children learn: “Academics, play, and learning are not mutually exclusive. Play is the method for teaching, and learning is the outcome…I’ve built my entire program on that philosophy.”
On her discovery of golf: “I had played maybe a handful of times as a kid, and I hated it, I thought it was boring…but when I was 30…I was invited to go play at a municipal course out in Yonkers, New York, and I fell in love with it. It hit me like a ton of bricks.”
On why golf makes sense for kids: “This is a great sport for young children, because it teaches movement, perseverance, creativity, and the fine and gross motor skills…all of it.”
On her approach to life: “My mom and dad told me, “You always jump into the fire, and you come out on the other side…I’m somebody that truly lives by my heart. If it doesn’t feel right, in my heart, I don’t do it.”
On how she knew her business would succeed: “When I saw the faces of the children, when I saw other coaches responding to the program, and parents responding to the program, I knew I had something.”
On her Birdie Basics program: “It’s a turnkey program for any golf professional, for sports camps, or for parents…We give them the same tools: the branding, the Birdie mascot, the story lines, the video support, the in-person trainings…you have the ability to run the same programming that we have here in New York City.”
On her broader mission: “I want to see more substantial learning and coaching opportunities for three to seven-year olds, which is a very specialized coaching field that could really move the needle. I’ve heard about broad strokes of how we develop young children, but I want it to go way deeper than that, because there’s an incredible opportunity. I’m never gonna stop until that happens.”