fb-pixelGolfer Megan Khang is defying the odds — and winning on the LPGA Tour Skip to main content

Her father is the only coach she’s ever had. Now, she’s playing on the LPGA Tour — and winning.

Megan Khang (left) has taken her golf talents to the LPGA Tour, and her self-taught father Lee has been her coach throughout her rise.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Lee Khang has an addiction.

Since he first swung a golf club at age 32, sending the ball screaming into the rough, he hasn’t been able to stop. He wakes up and plays golf. He falls asleep thinking about golf. Some nights, he hardly sleeps. He reads books and watches YouTube videos, itching to understand the perfect stroke.

He was terrible when he started 23 years ago. Now, he is the coach of an LPGA golfer who just secured her first win on the tour.

Megan Khang, his daughter and one of the LPGA’s up-and-comers, is Lee’s protégé. He’s the only coach Megan, 25, has had. In her eighth year on the tour, Megan rallied to her first tournament win at the CPKC Women’s Open Aug. 27 in Vancouver, British Columbia, beating Jin Young Ko in a playoff and securing her third Solheim Cup team berth.

The first call Megan made after winning was to Lee, of course, and her mother, Nou. The family of three reveled in a moment that had been more than two decades in the making.


“He cried and everything, and my dad is not a crier,” Megan said. “It’s truly a dream that we finally accomplished the goal that we had been working toward since essentially when I knew I wanted to go pro.”

Megan could easily find another coach, someone like Butch Harmon or Jim McLean, but why? Her self-taught father is as good for her as any of those big names, maybe even better.

“I know her better than she knows herself,” Lee said. “And I take tremendous pride in knowing the golf swing better than most people.”

Beginnings in cart golf

At 8 years old, Lee and his family fled Laos as the Hmong people were being persecuted for helping the United States fight communism in Southeast Asia. Nou’s family did the same, but the two didn’t meet until decades later in Providence.


Lee escaped Laos by crossing the Mekong River into Thailand, and he arrived in Brookline with nothing more than the clothes on his back through a sponsorship when he was 8.

His success in golf, a sport with built-in barriers to entry including steep costs and limited access, thus appears that much more improbable.

Lee’s golf career began in 2000, when he was 32. He and his brothers set out to play soccer but were forced inside by rain, so they lined up at an indoor driving range. No matter how hard he tried, Lee couldn’t hit the ball straight.

“I would tell my wife, ‘The stupid ball doesn’t want to go where it’s supposed to go!’ ” Lee said.

Frustrated, Lee spent hours each day trying to figure out what was wrong with his swing. He began to golf on weekends at what he called “cow pasture courses,” from the first tee time until the course closed.

Nou called it “ghetto golf,” but the couple couldn’t afford anything else. Lee was working as an auto mechanic in Providence, and Nou was a kindergarten teacher. He would drive to work from their home in Brockton at 5 a.m., leaving him about two hours before the shop opened to hit balls into a net.

Lee Khang didn't start golfing until he was 32 years old, but through rigorous practice, he turned himself into a capable player and coach.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“Night in and night out, he would just study every golf article and video on YouTube, and he just self-taught himself through trial and error and passed on whatever he learned all to me, too,” Megan said.


At 5 years old, Megan began joining her father on the course. She frequently sat behind the wheel of a golf cart with him in the passenger seat — Lee’s way of incentivizing his daughter to play well.

If Megan kept the ball on the fairway, she could drive the cart. If she hit the ball into the rough, Lee would take over. Lee’s only rule was that she couldn’t drive on the first or ninth holes, so the clubhouse staff couldn’t see her.

Megan never missed the fairway, Lee said.

“What 5-year-old doesn’t want to drive a golf cart?” Megan said.

Along the way, Lee figured out which coaching methods, swing techniques, and mental strategies worked best for Megan. He had gone through the same process while teaching himself, constantly researching and tweaking his methods.

Lee Khang (background) began coaching daughter Megan when she was 5 years old, and, through trial and error, learned the approach that would help her succeed on the course.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Megan showed an early aptitude, turning heads with a swing that seemed well beyond her years.

“People would always tell me she’s very special,” Lee said. “To me, she’s my daughter, so she was always special.”

A big commitment

Around the time Megan was 10 years old, Lee and Nou realized that golf could help their daughter pay for a college education. The family wouldn’t have been able to pay for school on its own, but if Megan trained hard enough, golf could help her earn a scholarship.

That year, Lee quit his job to become Megan’s full-time coach, leaving the family to get by on Nou’s salary alone. They bought a house on the sixth hole of Rockland’s Harmon Golf Club, a nine-hole practice course that Lee saw as a perfect fit for the family.


“My mom took a chance on my dad, really trusting that he knew what he was doing and trusting me that I would take it seriously,” Megan said.

Lee’s only condition was that if Megan decided golf was going to be her future, she had to commit to it fully. They didn’t have the money for a backup plan.

“My dad was a big advocate of, ‘Hey, I want you to try your very best, and then we can see if you’re good enough or if we need to keep working,’ ” Megan said. “ ‘If we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it right.’ ”

“My dad was a big advocate of, ‘Hey, I want you to try your very best, and then we can see if you’re good enough or if we need to keep working,’ ” Megan Khang said.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Megan agreed, and within a few years, her commitment began to pay off. Longtime Wake Forest coach Dianne Dailey spotted 12-year-old Megan at a tournament in North Carolina, where she finished third among a field of much older girls. Dailey offered her a scholarship on the spot, according to Lee.

Two years later, at age 14, Megan qualified for her first US Open. There, one player asked where she was going to college. Before Megan could answer, another player jumped in and said, “She’s going to the university of the LPGA.”

“And I had no clue what that meant,” Megan said. “It changed my whole perspective and thought process. I realized this can be so much more than just a college education.”


As her graduation from Rockland High School neared, Megan had a choice to make. She still had the offer from Wake Forest in her back pocket. Or she could go to LPGA Q-School and get a head start on her professional career.

Megan’s parents left the decision completely up to her, and she opted to go pro. She joined the LPGA Tour in 2016 after making it through Q-School, working her way to 35 top-10 finishes and a No. 14 world ranking by age 25.

“It’s a huge accomplishment and I’m super proud of my whole family, and what we’ve done to get to this point and give me the opportunity to live out my dream,” Megan said.

Megan Khang joined the LPGA Tour in 2016 and reached the No. 14 world ranking by age 25.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

To honor her family, Megan’s golf balls feature three dots: one dot for Megan, one for Lee, and one for Nou.

No matter how high she climbs in the rankings, Megan’s entourage remains the same. Though her parents aren’t usually on the course while she competes, she calls Lee whenever she needs coaching, or she channels the years and years of lessons he taught her.

Lee and Nou didn’t turn on the TV during the CPKC Women’s Open until the last hole. They spent most of the day trying to keep themselves occupied at home while, more than 3,000 miles away, their daughter pursued her first LPGA win. Watching Megan play, Lee said, makes them too nervous.

So when she called them afterward, victorious for the first time, Lee couldn’t hold back his tears.

“It’s pretty cool to see that we’re living the American dream,” Megan said.

“She said it correctly: It was a team win,” Lee said. “Our family, that’s our team.”

Emma can be reached at emma.healy@globe.com or on X @_EmmaHealy_.