"The University of South Carolina has the academics, geographic base and facilities to compete with the best programs in the country. We are also blessed to have a rich golf history and talent base within the state. I am in this business to win championships and compete at a very high level each and every year. I know that we can build a golf dynasty at Carolina because I can see it happening right now with the great young men who represent our program. I am extremely proud, honored and excited to be a part of the Gamecock Nation." - Bill McDonald
A highly successful collegiate golfer, former tour professional and accomplished instructor, Bill McDonald was named South Carolina head men's golf coach in the summer of 2007 after one season as the Gamecocks' associate head coach. During the 2006-07 season, McDonald helped South Carolina to its first NCAA Regional title and a tie for 11th finish at the NCAA Championship.
In McDonald's 10 years as head coach, the Gamecocks have won 18 tournament titles, making him the winningest coach in school history. A Gamecock has earned or shared individual medalist honors under McDonald 19 times, including four by Matt NeSmith, three by Paul Woodbury and George Bryan IV and two each from Kennan Huskey, Will Starke, Wesley Bryan and Caleb Sturgeon.
Nine of the 12 best single-round team scores in school history have come during the McDonald era, including a school and tournament record 265 (19-under-par) in the second round of the 2015 Camden Collegiate Invitational, where the Gamecocks were the eventual champions. In addition, nine of the top 10 tournament totals (54 holes) have come during McDonald's time in Columbia.
Seven of the school's all-time top-10 players for low scoring average have played their college golf under the tutelage of McDonald. Three-time All-American Matt NeSmith (2012-16) finished his career at Carolina in 2016 with the lowest career score average in program history at 71.65. Gamecocks have earned All-SEC honors 12 times and All-America honors 11 times during McDonald's tenure.
McDonald opened his first season as a head coach with a bang as the Gamecocks tied for first at the season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate and took fourth at the Callaway Golf Match Play event to close the Fall 2007 campaign. South Carolina went on to finish in the top four in five of its six spring events, including a second-place showing at the SEC Championship. It was the Gamecocks' first top-five finish at the conference event since 2003 and the highest placing by the program since the 1998 squad also took second place.
His second season at the helm proved to be an even-bigger success. The 2008-09 Gamecocks won four tournament titles, which is tied for the second most in school history, winning the Mason Rudolph Invitational, Rees Jones Intercollegiate, Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational and Cavalier Classic. A tie for second at the NCAA Southeast Regional in Sorrento, Fla., propelled the Gamecocks to the national tournament for the third time in four years. Mark Silvers III and George Bryan IV were named GCAA/Ping All-Americans, and Silvers was named the Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
His 2010 squad kept up the pace, winning a pair of tournament titles, moving into the nation's top 10 for a large portion of the season, and advancing to the NCAA East Regional. Bryan IV earned his third All-America nod, becoming just the third player in school history to be named an All-American three years, and Wesley Bryan and Paul Woodbury were named to the All-Southeast Region team.
In 2011-12 McDonald guided the Gamecocks to four top-five finishes, including a runner-up showing at the Rees Jones Invitational. Carolina received its fourth NCAA Regional bid in five years under McDonald as it traveled to Norman, Okla., for the NCAA Southwest Regional. The Gamecocks finished eighth at the regional, with Wesley Bryan leading the way with a tie for 18th showing.
In 2012-13 the Gamecocks recorded eight top-five finishes, with seven of those being third or higher. Carolina captured the Wendy's Kiawah Classic title by 20 strokes, which was the program's first tournament win since 2009. The Gamecocks finished runner-up at the SEC Championship and tied for second at the NCAA Columbus Regional, securing the program's first NCAA Championship berth since 2009. Dykes Harbin (AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic) and Caleb Sturgeon (Wendy's Kiawah Classic) won medalist honors in back-to-back tournaments, marking the first time the Gamecocks have had medalists in back-to-back events since Carl Paulson won two straight in October of 1993. The Gamecocks also had a strong presence on the postseason awards list. Matt NeSmith earned PING honorable mention All-American and PING All-Southeast Region honors. He was also named the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Harbin was a second-team All-SEC selection and was named to the PING All-Southeast Region Team.
McDonald guided the Gamecocks to another stellar season in 2013-14. Carolina won three tournament titles, finished with the second lowest scoring average in school history (287.46) and tied for the second most top-five finishes in a season in school history with nine. Carolina recorded its second-highest finish at the NCAA Championship, claiming ninth at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. The Gamecocks fell one stroke short of being in a three-team playoff for the eighth and final spot in match play. In its three tournament wins, South Carolina won by an average of 21.67 strokes, winning the Badger Invitational by 24 strokes, the Kiawah Classic by 22 shots and the Seahawk Intercollegiate by 19.
Individually, two Gamecocks won medalist honors, as Caleb Sturgeon took home the Badger Invitational title and Will Starke won the Seahawk Intercollegiate. Matt NeSmith earned second-team All-SEC and first-team PING All-Southeast Region honors, while Will Murphy earned All-America honors with his tie for 15th finish at the NCAA Championship.
The Gamecocks turned in one of the greatest seasons in school history in 2014-15 under McDonald's guidance. Carolina won a school-record five tournament titles, recorded a school-record 10 top-five finishes and shattered the school record for team scoring average in a season by more than four strokes (282.85). The Gamecocks finished the year ranked No. 6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings and No. 7 in the Golfstat Relative Rankings. Carolina finished tied for second at the SEC Championship and finished runner-up at the NCAA Bremerton Regional to earn the program's third-straight trip to the NCAA Championship. Matt NeSmith became just the second Gamecock to win the SEC Championship as he claimed medalist honors by six strokes with a school-record total of 196 (-14). Will Starke was a second-team All-American selection by both Golfweek and PING, while NeSmith was a third-team selection by Golfweek and PING. Starke and NeSmith both earn first-team All-SEC and PING All-Southeast Region accolades.
In 2015-16, McDonald led the Gamecocks to perhaps the finest season in school history. South Carolina finished seventh in the stroke play portion of the NCAA Championship, a program record, and the Gamecocks advanced to the match play portion of the event for the first time. Matt NeSmith became the first student-athlete in program history to win PING First Team All-America honors, and he was also named to the All-Nicklaus Team and the Golfweek All-America Team. Fellow senior Will Starke joined NeSmith as a PING All-American, while sophomore Keenan Huskey joined NeSmith on the All-Southeast Region Team. Both NeSmith and Huskey won two tournaments individually, and as a squad, the Gamecocks found the winner’s circle four times, the second-best mark in program history. In the end, Carolina was listed 10th in the nation in Golfweek’s final rankings of the season.
Coming to the University was actually a return to Columbia for McDonald. He began his teaching career as the director of instruction at the University Club (now Cobblestone Park) from 1996 to 1998. McDonald left Columbia to get back to his home state as an instructor at The Atlanta Golf Center in Norcross, Ga. until 2000. During his final year in that position, he helped design and build the City Club Golf Academy, a driving range and golf academy on a land fill near downtown Atlanta, then was the director of instruction at the facility until 2003. McDonald left that venture for another start-up organization as he was a founding partner and instructor at the Atlanta-based company Accelerized Golf. In 2006, he was named director of instruction at Cartersville Country Club, where he remained until joining the Gamecock staff.
During his 10 years of teaching, McDonald was well-known around the Southeast for his ability to develop junior golfers into college players. He coached more than 50 girls and boys that went on to receive college scholarships. In 2005, McDonald was a featured instructor on The Golf Channel's "Your Game Night."
McDonald got his coaching start as an assistant to Puggy Blackmon, Carolina's current director of golf operations/women's associate head coach, at Georgia Tech in 1994-95. That season the Yellow Jackets, who finished second in the ACC Tournament, qualified for their seventh-straight NCAA Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championship in Columbus, Ohio. McDonald's focus with the team, which featured winner of the Fred Haskins and Jack Nicklaus Awards Stewart Cink, was on recruiting, physical conditioning and helping to develop the team's depth. McDonald helped recruit and sign Carlton Forrester, who went on to become an All-American.
McDonald played his college golf for Blackmon at Georgia Tech (1985-88) where he was the runner-up at the 1988 NCAA Championship and a two-time All-American (1985, 1988). As a senior in 1988, his second-place finished helped the Yellow Jackets to seventh in the team standings, then the highest finish in school history. McDonald went on to compete professionally from 1989 to 1994, playing in South Africa and Canada and several PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour events.
McDonald has competed in three PGA Professional National Championships (2003, 2004, 2006) and won the Big Oak Putter Classic in 2006. In addition, he was consistently a top-10 player in the Georgia PGA Section.
McDonald, who earned his bachelor of science in industrial management in 1989, was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He has been a member of the Professional Golfers' Association of America since 2002. McDonald and his wife, Tanya, are the parents of two boys, Trace and Tyler.
The McDonald File: