Send In the Clown


Playing golf today is no laughing matter. With fortunes riding on every putt, the touring pros rarely crack a smile. And you don’t see much knee slapping from the folks waiting in line to get on the local muny track. Enter Kevin Compare to this gloomy scene. As Divot the Clown, he makes it his business to get people to laugh on the course.

Compare, a 34-year-old PGA professional from Stuart, Fla., created the costumed character to entertain aspiring young golfers. Although Divot came about quite by chance, he’s the ideal vehicle for Compare’s golf philosophy and talents.

During the summer of 1985, Kevin volunteered to help out with a junior clinic at a local club. Absent and unable to object when assignments were given out for a skit, he was voted the clown. But Compare proved to be well suited for the role, with a repertoire of trick shots incorporated into his teaching.

And you can take a golfing clown act on the road, which is handy for a teaching professional in south Florida who watches his pupils go north for the summer.

An upbeat, happy person who likes to make people smile, Compare was dismayed by golfers who took the game too seriously. Through Divot, he encourages players to relax. Like his big-top counterparts, his job is to break up the tension.

In the eight years he’s been doing the act, Compare keeps refining Divot’s costume. His most recent acquisition is a pair of 22-inch-long golf shoes. Handmade at a cost of $375, the oversized brogans give footwork a new dimension. The sport coat he wears over his outlandish outfit, he says, helps keep his swing connected.

Divot, who gets $1,500 plus expenses per performance, did 40 clinics last year and hopes to do 50 in 1992. The majority of his audiences are children who love the clown act, but grown-ups in attendance appreciate the skill of his shots. Rick Martino, director of instruction at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, marvels at Divot’s athletic ability. “It allows him to hit golf shots most people are not capable of playing,” says Martino.

Compare, who also works as the head teaching professional at the Golf and Racquet Club at Eastpointe in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., claims he never practices his routine except to make sure all the equipment is in good-working order.

The “voice” of Divot, a mute, is usually that of the host professional at the club where he is performing. Divot shows his approval by honking a horn or running around a’ la Harpo Marx and displaying a large APPLAUSE sign.

He’ll be doing clinics prior to seven LPGA tournaments and for 10 Clubs for Kids outings sponsored in part by Spalding Professional Golf and by local PGA sections.

For the fourth time, Divot will be at the Alamance County Parent-Child Golf Tournament held in August at the Shamrock Golf Course in Burlington, N.C., which had more than 1,300 players last summer.
- Topsy Siderowt

Golf Digest