Home Golf South Carolina parts ways with longtime men’s golf coach Bill McDonald

South Carolina parts ways with longtime men’s golf coach Bill McDonald


South Carolina is making a change.

Gamecocks’ athletic director Ray Tanner announced Thursday afternoon that the school was parting ways with head men’s golf coach Bill McDonald after 18 seasons.

McDonald’s teams had qualified for 15 NCAA regionals and seven NCAA Championships, with a best national finish of T-5 at the 2016 NCAA Championship in Eugene, Oregon. McDonald racked up 29 team victories and had 34 individuals win tournaments. This season South Carolina finished eighth at regionals to cap a season in which the Gamecocks competed for several events after its best player, Nathan Franks, fractured his elbow in a team van crash.

“I just had an incredible run,” McDonald told GolfChannel.com earlier in the day. “A lot of feeling good about the people you’re around, a family feel.”

McDonald played collegiately at Georgia Tech before turning professional. Just three years into his pro career, however, he broke a bone in his hand and soon took a job selling carpet chemicals for his dad’s friend in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia. He did that for nine months before transitioning into coaching; he was hired as an assistant under Puggy Blackmon at Georgia Tech, where McDonald studied biomechanics and how that relates to golf. He spent just one year coaching before taking an instruction job in Columbia, South Carolina, for a few years, followed by several teaching stints around Atlanta.

“I wanted to be a biomechanist, but I was a complete idiot,” said McDonald, who jokes, “There’s a picture of me up there [graduating] that says, ‘If he did it, anybody can.’”

About a decade after Blackmon took the South Carolina job, McDonald accepted the associate head coaching position under Blackmon there in 2006, moving his family, including 2- and 4-year-old children, to Columbia on a one-year, $75,000 contract. The Gamecocks won a regional title that season, and McDonald took over for Blackmon that next season.

McDonald coach a few future PGA Tour players at South Carolina, including Mark Anderson, Wesley Bryan and Matt NeSmith, who was a part of that 2015-16 squad, which also included the likes of Will Starke, Sean Kelly, Scott Stevens and Keenan Huskey.

“If I’m sitting on the back porch with a fire going thinking about the good ol’ days, it was that crowd,” McDonald said.

McDonald’s career also included a harrowing period. McDonald was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 2009 and took a chemo pill for seven years; he’s been cancer-free ever since.

“The first six months were hell,” McDonald said. “Now, they can’t find anything.”

McDonald doesn’t know if he’ll coach again, but he would love to do something to help raise awareness and money for childhood leukemia.

“It’s one of the most heartbreaking things on the planet,” McDonald said.

McDonald’s assistant, Brady Gregor, has been named interim head coach while a national search for a permanent replacement is already underway.

South Carolina is the third SEC golf coaching vacancy this year. Georgia recently hired USF’s Erika Brennan to be its new women’s coach. LSU has been interviewing for its new men’s coach ever since Chuck Winstead stepped down last fall, though word is the Tigers have decided on their guy and will announce after the NCAA Championship.

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