BROOKINGS, S.D.— Former University of Tennessee Director of Instruction/Player Development for men’s golf Casey VanDamme has been hired as the head coach of the South Dakota State men’s and women’s golf programs, Athletics Director Justin Sell announced Monday.
“Casey VanDamme brings a wealth of golf knowledge to this position. He's known as an accomplished golf instructor and a tremendous addition to the Jackrabbit family,” Sell said. “I know he'll be a great fit with our staff, and I believe the student-athletes on our current team and our golf letterwinners will immediately gravitate toward him and his personality.”
VanDamme, who becomes SDSU’s second-ever full-time golf coach, has spent the last five seasons as the assistant coach for the Volunteers men’s golf program. During his tenure, Tennessee equaled its best postseason stretch in school history with five trips to the NCAA Championship regionals in five years, advancing to the 2010, 2011 and 2013 NCAA Championship.
“I would like to thank Justin Sell and SDSU for entrusting me to lead their golf programs. In the interview process, I was blown away by the vision and people enacting that vision at SDSU,” VanDamme said. “There is no doubt SDSU is an athletic program on the rise and I am excited to be a part of it. My family and I can’t wait to become part of the Brookings community.”
During VanDamme’s tenure at Tennessee:
• Coached two amateurs playing in the 2014 Masters (Only the third time in Masters history);
• Mentored 2013 British Amateur Champion Garrick Porteous and 2013 U.S. Amateur runner-up Oliver Goss;
• Helped Vols to seven tournament wins and first No. 1 ranking in school history;
• Coached four all-Americans, five all-region selections, a first-team Southeastern Conference pick and four second-team SEC honorees and three SEC All-Freshman team members;
• Coached Rick Lamb to a 2013 NCAA finals runner-up individual finish;
• Individual accomplishments include: 9 tournament wins, 32 top 5s, 71 top 10s and 138 top 25s finishes;
• Team had the highest men’s sport GPA for six semesters;
• 2012 and 2013 Jan Strickland Assistant Coach of the year semifinalist
• 2014 University of Tennessee Assistant Coach of the Year
Prior to coaching the Vols, VanDamme learned the trade under renowned golf instructor Jim McLean. He spent seven years at the Jim McLean Golf School in Palm Springs, Calif., and Traverse City, Mich., becoming the youngest master instructor in school history.
VanDamme has worked with PGA Tour players, including as an on-site teaching professional to a participant in the 2009 PGA Championship.
He began his collegiate golf career at Marquette before finishing at Northern Michigan, where he graduated in 2000. VanDamme started his tenure under McLean in 1998 while still playing collegiately. He also played professionally on the National Golf Association Hooters Tour in 2003-04.
From 2006 to 2009, VanDamme served as athletic director at Mid Peninsula High School in Rock, Mich., also working summers since 2005 with the CVD Golf Academy in Gladstone, Mich. He also served in 2008 as head golf professional at LochenHeath Golf Club in Traverse City.
VanDamme and his wife, the former Jill Gobert, both are natives of Perkins, Mich., are the parents of daughters, Madelyn and Claire, and son, Andrew.
What They’re Saying About New South Dakota State Men’s & Women’s Coach Casey VanDamme
Oliver Goss - 2013 U.S. Amateur runner-up, 2014 Masters low amateur, Tennessee golf team member
“Coach VanDamme was an invaluable component to the Tennessee men’s golf team; doing everything he could to help us not only to become better players, but also better people. Coach VanDamme was constantly thinking of ways to help us improve and created a fun and motivational environment. Coach VanDamme will be an exceptional addition to the golf program at South Dakota State and they are very lucky to have him leading their program.”
Casey Martin - PGA Tour, University of Oregon men’s golf head coach
“Coach VanDamme is a great teacher and recruiter and also a wonderful person. He will do an amazing job at South Dakota State. They could not have found a better person to lead their program.”
Becky Iverson - LPGA champion, Solheim Cup team member
“I had the opportunity to work on my swing with Casey while I was still on tour. Not only is he extremely knowledgeable about the golf swing, his talents to communicate that knowledge are exceptional. I will always be thankful for Casey sharing that knowledge with me and helping me to play some of the best golf of my life.”
Jim Kelson - University of Tennessee men’s golf coach
“Casey VanDamme worked as our director of instruction/player development for the past five years at the University of Tennessee. He is a phenomenal instructor. I have been fortunate to learn from several of the greatest instructors in the game over the past 30 years. I would rank Casey as one of the world’s premier instructors. One of Casey’s greatest strengths is his ability to enact significant change in a player’s technique through subtle and simplistic instruction. Very few people are skilled enough to accomplish major change with one simple thought. I saw this on a daily basis while he was our director of instruction at The University of Tennessee.
Additionally, I felt Casey was an exceptional coach as it related to on-course instruction. I have told several individuals that I felt like Casey could caddy for Tiger Woods. I think he is that good at course management.
Finally, I think Casey’s biggest asset is his genuine passion for development of people. He cares immensely for all of his players. To say he goes above and beyond would be an understatement. South Dakota State hit a grand slam by hiring Casey VanDamme.
Garrick Porteous - 2013 British Amateur Champion, 2014 Masters participant, Tennessee golf team member
“Casey is an inspiring coach who gives everything to aspiring college golfers. Without Casey’s drive, determination or motivation I would not have achieved my successes to date.”
Jan Dowling - University of Michigan women’s golf coach
“Casey is a tremendous hire. He has an extensive teaching background that allows him to develop his players into internationally competitive golfers. Additionally, this teaching background has given Casey an edge in recruiting. He identifies talent and is able to key in on the minor adjustments needed to take potential players to the next level. His personality is also well suited for both male and female student-athletes. He is personable, knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor that the current players will connect to right away. The future is very bright for the South Dakota State Jackrabbbit golf programs.”
Courtesy: SDSU Michele Schmidt