Across the pond talent, Megan Clarke’s journey as a Lady Topper golfer

Megan Clarke on the green during a practice round at Olde Stone Country Club.

Nick Kieser

Senior Lady Topper golfer Megan Clarke, who hails out of Heckmondwike, England, made her collegiate debut on Sept. 16, 2017, at the USA Intercollegiate. Three seasons later Clarke is on the verge of graduating and opted to forego her extra year of eligibility awarded by the NCAA due to COVID-19. 

“For me, I wanted to go home and become a professor,” Clarke said. “What I am thinking is I will go home and have another year of training. I got happy with the idea of doing four years, it was enough for me and I really enjoyed my time.” 

The English golfer is a major in psychology and communication studies. Clarke said she would like to teach psychology but is also open to teaching math at any age level.  

Additionally, Clarke is the captain of the Lady Toppers this season and has one more shot at redemption while competing in Conference USA before moving back home. Last season WKU was slated to open its C-USA portion of the season in Dade City, Florida. 

“It was pretty crazy. We were in Florida at a tournament when we got the call that we had to come home. I knew I had an extra year so there was no worrying from me,” Clarke said. 

In the spring semester, Clarke said she was sitting in her dorm room when she received a school-wide email from WKU President Tim Caboni about transitioning to remote learning. Clarke was on the phone with her mother and told her she would have to come home. 

“The border was closed between Europe and the U.S. Luckily because I have a student visa I was allowed to travel home. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be here right now,” Clarke said. 

Head coach Adam Gary expressed his concern to retain Clarke on his roster following her departure home for the summer.

“It was even up in the air if I was going to get her back or not with the borders being shut down,” Gary said. “I’m just so happy she was able to get the visa updated to be able to get ready to play this fall. She is a joy for sure.” 

Arrival to WKU 

The English golfer moved 4,016 miles away from her home to come to Bowling Green, Kentucky the fall of 2017. For the first two weeks, Clarke’s parents accompanied her to get her settled in. 

Clarke said upon her arrival that having fellow countrywomen Abigail Smee and Georgina Blackman present was like a comfort blanket following her parent’s departure back to England.

“I knew Abigail really well from junior golf and we’re almost from the same area,” Clarke said. “I spoke to a few different coaches and I got along with Adam really well, that helped me decide to come to WKU.” 

The climate and time change was a hurdle for Clarke as she had to acclimate to a six-hour time change and the warmer temperatures. She said that the people were different in the U.S. but in a good way, everyone was welcoming and made her feel at home. 

‘My Partner in Crime’ 

Junior Lizzie Loy, a Jamestown native, hit it off with Clarke since coming to WKU. The two are best friends and according to Loy, the duo will take turns visiting each other following their collegiate careers at WKU. 

 “We got to know each other better through team gatherings and qualifying. She started riding to practice with me and we started going on grocery runs,” Loy said. “I am super close to her. She is one of my best friends. She’s like another sister to me.” 

On the course, Loy and her fellow teammates get to witness an alternate side of Clarke’s life. Loy said that Clarke is soft-spoken and quick to listen and slow to speak. If a problem was to arise Clarke is very level headed about it and knows how to lead on and off the field.  

Away from the course and school, Loy has included Clarke in holidays, namely Thanksgiving when the end of the fall semester nears. 

“Her family has been welcoming to me, they’ve invited me to Thanksgiving, and I am always welcome to go home with her anytime,” Clarke said. “She’s always there If I ever want to hang out with someone.”

When asked about Clarke’s personality, Loy chuckled. She said that Clarke is funny and on the course she has her game face on. Away from the course she likes to sing and dance and is very outgoing. 

Loy provided an example of how her best friend behaves away from the course and the humor she transmits off the course. 

“Instead of saying do you want to go to Chick-Fil-A, she says ‘do you fancy Chick-Fil-A?’ She also calls a trash can a bin and when she’s outside she calls the ground the floor,” Loy said. 

Despite the friends having different interests Loy knows she can go to Clarke whenever she needs her and vice versa. 

“We’re connected through golf but we keep up with one another outside of the golf course,” Loy said. “We have a friendship where if anything is going wrong in our lives we can sit down and talk about that. She’s like that to everyone and is a friend to all.” 

Once time runs out on the spring semester and Clarke sinks her last putt the relationship, Loy has embarked upon since her freshman year will not end there. 

“I know that she is intentional about reaching out and about checking in,” Loy said. “Even though I know I won’t have my partner in crime on and off the golf course I know our friendship will still remain the same.” 

Pedigree of Clarke

Prior to college play Clarke was being coached by Andrew Nicholson. According to Leadbetter Golf Academy,Nicholson is a Tour Coach, England Golf coach and past BBC Swing analyst. His passion is development and in particular developing children to Elite National levels. His alumni includes European Tour Winners, Multiple National Champions, National teams and squads. 

“I knew she had top level training and she was a solid ball striker. The experience she has gotten has really made her a world class player,” Gary said. “I really can’t say enough to how she’s helped us get to where we are now in our rankings.”

Gary had to rely on word of mouth as opposed to going over to England to see Clarke in action before committing to WKU. 

“She’s been able to focus her energy and she’s a really hard worker, incredibly intelligent, has a really high golf IQ with what’s new and improved and I couldn’t be happier for her,” Gary said of Clarke. 

Memorable moments 

During Clarke’s sophomore campaign at the Little Rock Golf Classic she shot 212 at the 54-hole course event. This was her first-ever individual victory as a Lady Topper. 

“She didn’t really even know she was in the lead, she was just playing her game and she got done and I was like ‘congratulations you just won’ and she had no idea she just won the tournament,” Gary said. “That’s the kind of player she is and takes care of her business.”

“That was probably my biggest highlight ever. I really enjoyed that, but it was kind of scary,” Clarke said. “I was playing with the leader on the last day and I knew I needed to do something to win and I did.” 

Aside from any serious accolades, Clarke said the team made a Tik Tok account on the Lady Toppers most recent trip to South Alabama. 

This past school year Clarke was named to the President’s List in the fall and spring semesters and competed in all seven of her competitions as a junior. 

Beyond the links 

As of now the Lady Toppers will have its usual slate for the spring, but COVID-19 may cause tournaments to shift during Clarke’s last season. Gary said that the plan is to play in five tournaments in the spring. 

“I still think the best is yet to come, I was bummed for her not being able to finish off last spring because she was playing some good golf when we got shut down,” Gary said. 

Clarke will have one more fall competition at Mercer University on Nov. 9-10 and then the spring season before flying home to England to embark on life beyond the golf course. 

“My dream, when I was younger, was to be a professional golfer. As I have done my four years of college I’ve been realistic and compared myself to others,” Clarke said. “I do believe in myself but I don’t think I would be successful enough to make a career being a professional golfer. It’s kind of sad but I will always play golf and love it.” 

“It is up to her, she’s got some unbelievable skill and talent,” Gary said. “I think the sky is the limit for her for sure.”

Sports Editor Nick Kieser can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.