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"You need women in the industry." -Megan Padua Buzza, Maidstone Club

Megan splits her time between New York and Florida, and has been at her club in New York for 13 years. She has been recognized in numerous ways in the golf industry for being an incredible teacher making an impact in the world of golf. She recognizes how much of an opportunity it is to be a female in this industry, and her determination to stand out in everything she does is what has led her to where she is today.

Megan has some great advice for young women entering this industry, and I am so excited to know that she is mentoring the next and current generation of young golfers! Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about your current position in the golf industry.

I'm actually heading up to my summer job right now. I've been at the same club during the summer for the last 13 years. It's called Maidstone Club in East Hampton. The Maidstone Club is a top 100 course and I definitely feel like it's my home after being here this long. I'm really excited to go back up for another season. When I'm not there, my other home is now at Bonita Bay Club, which is near Naples, Florida and I strictly teach there. In the summertime, it's more junior golfers and running a top junior golf program and during the wintertime, I focus my instruction on adults. With this seasonal split it really changes it up and keeps it fresh and entertaining, which I love. I've been lucky in my career path to go straight into teaching; I never tried to play or take my game on tour. It was definitely the right fit for me. I'm just incredibly passionate about it and I've gotten some really nice recognitions just for doing what I love doing, which is always a plus.

What are some of those awards?

I'm a Golf Digest best young teacher. I've been on that since I was 27 and I'm turning 36 this year, so I have only a few more years of eligibility in the top 40 under 40! I've been on the best in state in South Carolina back when I was working in South Carolina, but currently I am not yet listed on the list for Florida which will be a great accomplishment if I can achieve that someday. I'm a golf range association of America (GRAA) top 50 Elite teacher and that's about growth of the game. I'm a U.S. Kids Golf master kids teacher and an LPGA top 50 teacher. It's been nice to get acknowledged since people are recognizing me for just doing something that never feels like a job; it’s my passion. I definitely feel very fortunate to have found the right career path and my purpose.

When did you first start playing golf?

I started kind of late compared to the kids these days. I started when I was about 12 or 13. I have two brothers and my two brothers and my dad were playing a lot of golf. I wanted to tag along and try to keep up with them in anything that they did. I really followed my older brother's footsteps, and whatever he did I wanted to do too. My older brother became a golf pro and he did the PGM program at NMSU. After seeing his journey, I thought, "Well, gosh, that's an option." So, I started looking at different places where I could go play college golf and major in golf. I ended up at Penn State where I was able to play on the golf team and also make golf my major. It was such a good route for me and truly has helped shape my life’s story.

Once I got into golf, I was hooked. I knew that if I put my focus into it I could accomplish great results. I just loved it and dedicated everything to golf. It is really cool because it is one of those games where you can make a lot of happen in a short amount of time. So yes, it was really nice to be able to make it into something that really changed the whole journey of my life. My friends all have something to do with golf, I met my husband through golf. It’s certainly more than just a game; it’s given me so much.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

It's definitely the connection to my students. I just really feel that I've been able to change their experience and journey with golf. The biggest thing is when you see it with the juniors. You could really change the path of a junior golfer's life, big time. Some of these kids I've been with for 13 years. Some I’ve even taught to tie their shoes and now they're off in college, and that's amazing. It's so much more than just the golf. Golf really is the platform or the avenue that's allowing you to connect with them. But you can connect in so many more ways. You can help them with whatever they're going through in their life, and with the juniors to mold them to become better people. It's just such a great opportunity to help people on a bigger scale where you're just using golf to get to them.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I have thought a lot about that question. Because, in some ways, I feel like it's such a blessing to be a female in the business. I'm not saying it's not hard. There's definitely challenges. But so many times, I think some people will focus on how hard it is, instead of how much of an opportunity it is. For example if you’re the only female in the room full of men, it may feel uncomfortable but it’s also an opportunity to stand out. The other part of it is surrounding yourself with people that are going to be supportive. Are you working for the right person? I’ll never forget one of my first employers said, “Because you're a female, you're going to need to work harder and do such a better job than everyone else.” I kind of adopted that mentality that this means I'm just going to have to be as good as I possibly can be, not just so that I'm the best female in the room, but so I can hang with everybody. It's not about being the best female professional, you're the best professional you can be, period.

How do you think the golf industry benefits from having female leaders in the industry?

At this point, I feel like it's been proven that you need women in the industry, and they're making such big differences. I've just noticed that there's such a need on the membership scale. With women and girls being one of the largest segments of growth in the game, they want to walk in and see someone that they can relate to working at the club. For example, at my club we have myself and another amazing assistant that is a female, so we have two of us that run the program which has led to extreme growth in young girls playing golf. Now we are facing a time where we need to get a male mentor to grow the boys' interest level in playing golf. This shows the importance of having that role model there that they can look up to and relate to.

How do you think we can get more women working in the golf industry?

You really do need someone to show you that it's an option. The only reason why I knew about it was through my older brother. I know there have been some campaigns and the PGA and LPGA have tried to raise awareness about opportunities in golf. I try to do it personally and share all the time how much I love my job on social media and through word of mouth. I think the PGM schools are a big part of it. However, many of the schools are cutting their PGM programs which means it’s more important than ever for golf professionals to recruit young professionals. A huge part of the recruitment of future women will need to come from the LPGA and through events because that's where people are really watching. They're watching tournaments and effective commercials on becoming a golf professional could make a huge impact. I think it has to be the responsibility of women in the business sharing that, "Hey, this is an option" in part with mentoring the younger girls.

What advice would you give to women just starting out their careers in the golf industry?

Don't be afraid to go up and shake hands and meet people in the business, at your facility, and everywhere you go. You never know who you’ll meet. That is one thing that I had always done really well, I think it kind of determined what ended up happening with my career. I just went up and shook everyone's hand and wanted to get to know everyone and find out what you can learn from each person, because every single person has their story. I think one of the biggest things is when you're a female in a room full of men, you have a choice. You can sit there in the corner and not say anything or you can force yourself outside of your comfort zone and try to make connections. That made a big difference for me in my career.

Thank you so much to Megan for sharing your story! You can follow Megan on Instagram, @megangolfpro and remember to follow @golf.hers!

Look for a Podcast from the ModGolf Podcast featuring Golfhers very soon. And remember, the scholarship application is due August 15th!

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