Divot entertains, teaches golf to kids
By Rick Ingebritson
News-Sun Sports Editor
Her eyes wide, her mouth open, the youngster simply couldn’t believe her eyes.
“I didn’t know you could drive, Divot!” she exclaimed as the clown positioned a golf cart near his stage at Ocotillo Park Golf Course on Tuesday afternoon.
Divot the Clown, a.k.a. PGA golf professional Kevin Compare, delighted nearly 500 area youngsters who took part in Ocotillo’s annual Junior Golf Day. Dressed in a red and white striped jacket, large bow tie, polka-dot pants, red wig, golf hat and oversized shoes, Compare performed two 40-minute trick shot demonstrations.
But before he started, like any clown knows, he first had to stretch out. Fully limber, he stood up and impatiently tapped his oversize shoe and looked at his watch, waiting for his audience to make their way over from the covered picnic area.
Once the performance began, Divot was assisted by Ocotillo head professional Doug Lyle, who helped explain to the youngsters the clown’s every move.
Compare taught the basics to the novice golfers, demonstrating proper stance, club selection and the mechanics of a golf swing. While keeping the youngsters in stitches with corny pratfalls, Compare wowed the older golfers and parents with impressive left-handed drives, including a 200-yard drive from his knees.
Demonstrating the importance of selecting the right length of club, Compare began with a two-foot club and increased to the “Giraffe Club”, a club about 7 feet long. No matter the size of the club, Compare’s drives consistently reached more than 200 yards.
Continuing with trick shots, he teed up a dozen golf balls inches from one other, and slowly made his way from the first to the last, striking each with a one-handed swing. Between his legs. Some 200 yards each.
Showing he isn’t a one-sport wonder, Compare hit a golf ball off a teed-up football. He then teed up two balls, one on top of the other, and lined up a shot using a club that had a baseball bat for a shaft. He struck the bottom ball, which sailed out straight, while the second ball popped into the air where Compare lined it up the middle for a single.
For his last trick, Compare stood before a dozen balls teed at different heights, from average height to nearly shoulder high. Methodically, he struck each ball with his sweet left handed stroke without any noticeable drop off from the first to the last.
After the performance, Compare turned his back to the youngsters, so as not to give away his ability to speak, and explained how he became “the world’s most famous golfing clown.”
“I’ve been a pro since 1981, and back in 1990 I was teaching kids at a PGA of America event with another pro, and he jokingly said that one of us should dress up as a clown to get our point across,” Compare said. “That’s how it all started.”
Since adopting the Divot persona, Compare has averaged 45-50 performances a year. He was in Chattanooga, Tenn., Salt Lake City and Denver last week, and arrived at the Midland airport Tuesday morning. Following his Ocotillo performance, he was to catch a 5:30 p.m. flight from Midland to his hometown of Vass N.C. The next two weeks include performances in Minneapolis, Charlotte, N.C., Palm Beach, Fla., Indianapolis and Tupelo, Miss.
“It’s just so enjoyable to see the kids smile and get into the game of golf through what they learn through Divot. It’s just a great experience,” he said.
“And it sure beats working.” Compare said with a smile and nudge.
Asked his thoughts about his trip to Hobbs, Compare thought a second and then said, “Well, it’s a tough place to get to. Seriously, this is a great club and Doug does a great job, especially hosting events like this which get the kids interested in a wonderful game.”
Lyle was impressed by Compare’s performance.
“I loved it,” he said “I thought it was just terrific, especially because the kids enjoyed it and learned from it. This is just part of our goal to introduce the sport to area youngsters and show how fun it can be when played correctly.
“We’ve had a great day. Thankfully, the thunderstorms have stayed away, no one’s gotten hurt, and the kids have learned a lot. You can’t ask for much more.”
At left, Divot the Clown, a.k.a Kevin Compare, performs golf trick shots and keeps the audience in stitches during Ocotillo Park Golf Course’s annual Junior Golf Day. Above, 6-year-old Kyla Elder laughs at Divot the Clown during his performance Tuesday.
Hobbs Daily News-Sun