Dr. Vanessa MacKinnon

Associate Professor

Department of Exercise Sciences and Sport Studies


Dr. Vanessa MacKinnon teaches primarily within the professional golf management program, for which she also serves as the internship coordinator. Prior to coming to PennWest California, Dr. MacKinnon spent several years as a golf teaching professional, coaching and instructing golfers at golf academies in Florida, Canada, and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. During that time, she earned Class A membership as a teaching professional with both the LPGA and the PGA of America. She competed as a member of the varsity women's golf team while an undergraduate at Yale University in the early 1990s, and subsequently competed on the professional long drive circuit, qualifying for five consecutive Remax Long Drive World Championships. While she now golfs only occasionally and recreationally, she continues to love the game and to retain her PGA and LPGA membership for continuing education purposes and to provide better opportunities for her students. Dr. MacKinnon's research interests focus primarily on golf-related topics and on gender issues in sport. She is passionate about getting more women involved in sports, particularly golf. She works with several non-profit groups that promote women's sport, and is actively involved in the international Sport for Peace and Development movement.
Dr. MacKinnon is an avid fitness enthusiast. She is a certified group fitness instructor with the American Council on Exercise and has completed multiple fitness-related continuing education courses, particularly those pertaining to fitness for golf. She is a recreational triathlete, having completed her first full Ironman-distance race in 2015. She also enjoys bodybuilding, martial arts, and yoga.  She enjoys helping her students understand how physical and mental well-being are crucial elements of a well-rounded and holistic golf instructional program.
Prior to coming to PennWest California, Dr. MacKinnon spent several years in the Washington, D.C., area where she served as a research analyst on foreign policy, law enforcement, and women's issues for a think tank, the US Congress, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. In her spare time she enjoys studying foreign languages and backpacking overseas. 


  • Various courses in Professional Golf Management

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the PGA of America
  • Member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division
  • Certified fitness instructor, American Council of Exercise and Titleist Performance Institute

Research Interests

  • Golf fitness
  • History of gender discrimination in golf
  • Improving access to golf for females
  • Best approaches to teaching golf to women
  • B.A.: Double major in History and Political Science, Yale University
  • M.A.: Political Science, McGill University
  • Ed.D.: Sport Management Specialization, North Central University