Megan and I connected through Instagram and she has been a supporter of Golfhers from the beginning. She posts great material on social media and is a teacher that loves her job and shows her passion through her work. Megan shares fantastic advice for women in the industry and has bold aspirations for her future.
Here is her story:
What is your current position in the golf industry?
Director of Instruction at Kings Ridge Golf Academy for one year. Before this, I was an instructor in the Villages, worked at the Country Club of Orlando, and have worked with a Golf Digest top 50 instructor and the Troon golf organization in Arizona.
When did you first get introduced to golf?
My grandfather was the manager of my local golf course in Northern Ireland. I played every day after school and copied my uncle and grandparents from the age of four.
When did you know you wanted to work in the golf industry?
From the age of 12, I remember telling everyone I was going to get a golf scholarship to play golf in America. After college, I played on the Mini Tour in Arizona and by working with Tim Mahoney, I realized I enjoyed teaching as much as I do playing. I don’t think a job outside of golf was ever on the cards for me.
Describe your journey in the golf industry to where you are now.
I played for the Northern Ireland and Irish National junior teams. From there, I earned a college golf scholarship to Missouri State University. I was All Conference three out of four years. Then I moved to Scottsdale to intern under Tim Mahoney and play the Cactus Mini Tour. After working and playing in Arizona for a year, my now husband got an amazing job opportunity in Orlando so we decided to move.
I started at a country club but soon realized teaching was my calling. I joined the First Tee where a lady named Sherry Dierks encouraged me to join the LPGA teachers. I switched from my PGA program to LPGA as it was more teaching-based.
The connections and people I have met through the LPGA has really made Florida feel like home. I still plan to go back and finish my PGA in the future. I got a ton of experience teaching in the Villages, but I live in Clermont and when the teaching job came up at the local retirement community, I knew it was the right move for me. I now run my own program and have had great success with private lessons, groups, and juniors. My after school program is booming! We have a wee tees class for 4-6 year olds, LPGA 101 classes for lady beginners, and girls golf.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Getting text messages of success, people meeting goals, juniors getting excited because they hit past the tree, kids drawing me pictures and thank you cards, older people with injuries realizing they can hit the ball great again with small changes.
If you've seen Megan's Instagram, it's easy to see her passion for each and every person she teaches.
What were some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The hardest thing for me was moving to Orlando. I went from working hard in Scottsdale and building a name for myself to the other side of the country where it felt like no one in the industry knew me or believed in me. I felt like I was starting over.
Adjusting to life in Missouri at age of 18 was a struggle too. And as a female I still deal with some stubborn older gentlemen who don’t think I can help. But I keep my head down and work hard. As soon as their wife starts beating them, they always come to me for that lesson!
Do you feel your experience as a professional differs from the experience of a man in the same position?
Yes and no. I think a lot of women prefer female teachers so in that sense I think I get a lot of new female students because I’m the only female in the area. Vice versa, it takes a while for males to warm up to me. But I always believe if you work hard it all balances out eventually.
How do you think the golf industry benefits from having women in leadership positions?
Every sport and every position in every job should have both qualified males and females. It should be who works the hardest who gets the position.
I believe any girl reading my story may see that there is a whole world that can open up through golf.
I got to travel and live in another country, a great college education, friends around the world, a husband, a home, and a career all from hitting a golf ball. If I can do it, any girl can.
There were lots of people in my childhood that told me golf is not a real job and I need a backup plan. That pushed me to prove them wrong. There are a million jobs that can come from golf and golf can open many doors in other industries too.
As a woman, how do you feel knowing that we make up less than 5% of PGA professionals and only 30% of college coaches for women’s teams?
It’s disappointing but I think the LPGA is going to change this. And I believe that the PGA President being a female is going to change this too.
How do you think we can get more women working in the golf industry?
Get more junior girls playing and falling in love with the game. You always want to work in an industry that your passionate about. If we as leaders show that you can get high up in the golf industry as a female and we as teachers allow junior girls to fall in love with the game, the rest will take care of itself.
What are your future aspirations in the golf industry?
Larger girls golf program, LPGA top 50 instructor, Golf Digest Best in State, owner of my own academy, and some more tournament wins would be a bonus too.
If you had any words of inspiration or advice for young women beginning their careers in the golf industry or considering going into your field, what would they be?
Figure out your goals, make a plan and don’t let anyone stop you. Find a strong mentor and never be scared to ask for help. I’ve come home from work and hated days. I’ve moved jobs and worried it was the wrong decision but if you work hard, it will all work out. Try and fail, and learn from your mistakes.
Thank you to Megan for sharing her journey and passion for the sport and industry. You can follow her on Instagram, @meganjohnstongolf, and remember to follow @golf.hers to keep up with the latest stories. Subscribe below!