Vandamme brings wealth of experience

By Shayne Gottlob Sportswriter

The SDSU golf program will have a new head coach at the helm to lead the men’s and women’s teams into competition this year.

Casey VanDamme was introduced as the new head golf coach in late July, putting him in charge of an SDSU program that prior to his hiring, he didn’t even know existed.

 “I didn’t know anything about (SDSU),” VanDamme said. “Once I got there in the interview and kind of talked to people about (SDSU), I found out it’s a great place and everyone loves being there and so do I.”

Although VanDamme was unfamiliar with SDSU and even South Dakota for that matter, he is no stranger to the Midwest.

VanDamme built a reputable profile as a collegiate golfer at Marquette University in Wisconsin and Northern Michigan University in Michigan. After concluding his collegiate career, VanDamme competed on the National Golf Association Hooters Tour, a professional tenure that lasted from 2003 to 2004.

After his stretch of professional competition, VanDamme remained in Michigan and became the athletic director at Mid Peninsula High School of Rock, Mich., a position which he held from 2006 to 2009.

After the conclusion of the 2009 school year, VanDamme raised his reputation to a whole new level by joining the Tennessee Volunteers, a Division I, SEC program.

With VanDamme as the director of instruction/player development for the men’s golf team at the University of Tennessee, the Volunteers enjoyed much success as they made the NCAA Championship regionals five years in a row as well as advanced to the NCAA Championship in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

This habit of success that is stringed into VanDamme’s coaching methods is what he hopes to instill into the golfers here at SDSU. VanDamme knows his lofty goals for his teams will not be completed overnight.

“My expectations will progressively change. My goals are to have a top-50 program. Once you get there, anything can happen,” VanDamme said. “We are a little ways away from that right now, but I think the groundwork has been laid and set by the previous coach and administration.”

Even though VanDamme’s goals of molding top-50 programs for both his men and women’s team are long term, he has immediate intentions for this season.

“Expectations for this year are to get to know all the players and do a good job recruiting and then to try and make our players better every day,” VanDamme said.

Meaningful relationships with players may take a season to build but VanDamme is confident he is in the right situation and is optimistic about the goals he has set.

“I think some great things are about to happen. I’m happy that I am coming in at a great time.”