“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
- 28 tournament wins (most in school history)
- 30 individual tournament winners
- 21 All-America honors
- 19 All-SEC selections
- 3 former players who have spent time on the PGA TOUR (Mark Anderson, Wesley Bryan and Matt NeSmith)
- 38 GCAA All-America Scholars
- 126 student-athletes on the SEC Honor Roll
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. He served in an interim head coach role for the spring of the 2006-07 season. During his interim tenure, McDonald helped South Carolina to the 2007 NCAA West Regional title, the first regional title in program history, and a T-11th finish at the NCAA Championship.
The 2023-24 season marks his 18th at the helm. In McDonald’s 17 years as head coach, the Gamecocks have won 28 tournament titles, making him the winningest coach in school history. A Gamecock has earned or shared individual medalist honors under McDonald 30 times, including four wins by Matt NeSmith, Keenan Huskey and Ryan Hall, three by Paul Woodbury and George Bryan IV and two each from Will Miles, Will Starke, Wesley Bryan and Caleb Sturgeon.
Seventeen of the 18 best single-round team scores in school history have come during the McDonald era, In addition, 19 of the top 20 tournament totals (54 holes) have come during McDonald’s time in Columbia. The team broke both the 54 and 18-hole low score records at the 2019 J.T. Poston Invitational. Carolina shot 806 (-46) overall and 264 (-20) in the second round.
Nine of the school’s all-time top-10 players for low scoring average have played their college golf under the tutelage of McDonald. All-American Ryan Hall (2018-22) finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in career scoring average at 70.66, the only sub-71.00 scoring average all-time at Carolina. All-American Scott Stevens (2015-19) sits second at 71.57 with three-time All-American Matt NeSmith (2012-16) right behind at 71.65 as well as All-American Keenan Huskey (2014-18) at 71.66.
In his 17 seasons in Columbia, McDonald has produced 11 different All-Americans and 21 total All-America honors. There’s been 19 All-SEC selections under his tutelage as well. McDonald’s student-athletes have also been outstanding in the classroom too, with 38 GCAA All-American Scholars and 126 players named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. In the spring of 2020, the team recorded the highest single semester GPA (3.67) in program history.
In 2007-08, McDonald opened his first full 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. 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.
A young Carolina squad with no seniors was at McDonald’s disposal in 2016-17. The team made its 10th appearance in 11 seasons under McDonald at the NCAA West Lafayette Regional. The Gamecocks finished ninth in what was ranked the hardest regional by Golfweek, snapping a school record four-straight trips to the NCAA Championship. Carolina finished in the top-five in eight of its 12 events, including its third consecutive title at the Hootie At Bulls Bay Intercollegiate. McDonald’s team, which showed steady improvement throughout the season, took fifth in the stroke play portion of the SEC Championship, advancing to the first ever SEC Match Play. Team Captain Keenan Huskey earned Honorable Mention All-America honors from Golfweek. Huskey and sophomore Scott Stevens each earned Second Team All-SEC honors and both were named PING All-Southeast Region. Huskey tallied the third lowest single-season scoring average in program history in 2016-17 (70.63), while Stevens carded the lowest scoring average all-time for a sophomore (71.26).
In 2017-18, McDonald led Carolina to its sixth-straight NCAA Regional and the program’s 26th all-time appearance in the postseason. The Gamecocks finished seventh in the Bryan Regional, just missing the fifth-place cutline for the school’s fourth trip to the NCAA Championship in the last five seasons. Carolina finished the season with a 286.97 scoring average, its fourth-lowest mark all-time, and five top-five finishes. The Gamecocks ran away with the 2017 Camden Collegiate Invitational title, and finished runner-up at the 2017 Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic in Hawaii. Stevens led the team with a 71.44 scoring average, two top-five finishes and seven top-20s, including runner-up medalist honors and a T-11th showing at the NCAA Bryan Regional. Huskey earned SEC Golfer of the Week honors after winning the 2018 All-American Intercollegiate. He shot 201 (-15, T-4th lowest 18-hole score all-time) en route to his fourth career win, which is T-2nd on the all-time victories list at Carolina. Huskey finished his illustrious Gamecock career second on the career scoring average list (71.66) and T-6th all-time with 16 career top-10s.
South Carolina made its return to the NCAA Championship during the 2018-19 season, fueled by a strong spring that featured three wins. The Gamecocks took down Colorado State in a five-man playoff for the final spot out of the NCAA Pullman Regional. Carolina missed the 15-team cut at NCAAs after 54-holes by just two shots and finished the campaign ranked No. 17 in the final Golfstat Team Rankings. Overall, Carolina had nine top-five finishes in 13 stroke play events – T-2nd most for a single season in program history. The team’s 285.33 scoring average was the second lowest all-time. The Gamecocks won the Palmetto Intercollegiate, Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate and the Southern Intercollegiate. At Palmetto Golf Club, Carolina won by 35-shots while setting the school record for lowest 54-hole score at 813 (268-269-276). Carolina also made it to match play at the SEC Championship for the second time in three seasons under the new format. All-American Scott Stevens led the team with three top-five finishes, while logging the second lowest scoring average in program history (70.59). He was named First Team All-SEC and PING All-Southeast Region. Stevens did not miss a tournament in four seasons and finished his illustrious career with the lowest scoring average all-time at Carolina (71.57 in 148 rounds played). He matched a career-best performance at the NCAA Pullman Regional, shooting 198 (-12) with a final round 65 (-5). All-American Will Miles won twice in the spring at the Palmetto Intercollegiate and the Southern Intercollegiate. At Palmetto Golf Club, Miles shot 197 (64-65-68) en route to a nine-shot win, T-2nd lowest 54-hole total ever by a Gamecock. Miles tallied a 70.97 scoring average, the fifth-best mark all-time for a single season. His career scoring average of 72.40 was the sixth-best all-time. Miles earned Second Team All-SEC honors and was named PING All-Southeast Region. Freshman Ryan Hall logged the lowest scoring average by a freshman in program history at 71.00 en route to earning PING All-Southeast Region honors.
In 2019-20, the team’s season was unexpectedly cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no postseason play for the first time ever in the sport (first NCAA sponsored championship was in 1939). The Gamecocks played in seven tournaments total (five in the fall, two in the spring) before play was stopped across the country in collegiate golf in the middle of March. The team had four top-five finishes, tallying a season scoring average of 285.43. Carolina had its best showing of the season at the J.T. Poston Invitational (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) in the fall. The Gamecocks took second but were able to set the program 54-hole scoring record at 806 (-46) and also broke the 18-hole scoring record after shooting 264 (-20) in the second round of the event. Sophomore Ryan Hall was medalist for his first career win with a 54-hole total of 199 (-14) after tallying just the sixth sub-200, 54-hole score in school history. Senior Jamie Wilson earned PING Honorable Mention All-America after finishing outside of the top-15 just twice in seven starts. He paced Carolina in scoring average (70.86 – fifth-lowest all-time), rounds of par or better (14) and scores in the 60s (8). Wilson was also named First Team All-SEC and PING All-Southeast Region.
The Gamecocks returned to a full slate of competition in 2020-21. South Carolina made its 13th NCAA Regional appearance (28th all-time) under McDonald. The team also made its third SEC Match Play appearance in four seasons of the new format at the SEC Championship after finishing seventh in stroke play. The Gamecocks and the rest of the league made history playing a three-event, All-SEC fall schedule beginning with the Blessings Collegiate Invitational (Oct. 5-7), which was televised live by the Golf Channel and featured all 14 men’s and women’s programs across the conference. Ryan Hall, who had one of the best single seasons in program history, won the NCAA Albuquerque Regional (May 17-19) by a shot after shooting 205 (-11). He advanced to the NCAA Championship at Grayhawk as an individual with the win. Hall joined Kyle Thompson as the only NCAA Regional Champions in program history. He was named a PING First Team All-American, joining Matt NeSmith as the only first team selections all-time at Carolina. Hall, a First Team All-SEC and PING All-Southeast Region selection as well, became the first South Carolina golfer all-time with a sub-70, single season scoring average (69.97). In the regular season finale on Easter Sunday, he won the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational (April 3-4) to earn a sponsor exemption into the PGA TOUR’s 3M Open in July. He also played for the winning American side in the Arnold Palmer Cup (June 11-13) at Rich Harvest Farms over the summer, becoming the first Gamecock to compete for the United States Team in the event.
In 2021-22, South Carolina finished the season ranked No. 26 in the final Golfstat Team Rankings. The Gamecocks won three tournaments (J.T. Poston Invitational, Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate, Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate), marking the fourth time under head coach Bill McDonald the team has won three or more events in a single season (last time it happened was 2019). The Gamecocks were the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Normal Regional, marking the 14th NCAA trip under McDonald’s direction and the 29th overall in program history. Carolina would finish 6th at 2-over, seven shots shy of cracking the top-five and advancing to the NCAA Championship. Transfer Evans Lewis advanced as an individual as the highest finisher on a non-advancing team, becoming the fifth Gamecock to advance to the National Championship as an individual. All-American Ryan Hall was a Second Team All-SEC selection. He and Jack Wall were named PING All-Southeast Region as well. Hall won the Palmetto Intercollegiate for his fourth career win, tying him for the second most victories all-time in program history. He finished his illustrious Gamecock career with the lowest scoring average in program history at 70.66. The Knoxville, Tenn., native had 25 top-20 finishes, 13 top-10s and 10 top-fives (sixth-most in program history) in four seasons (2018-22).
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 PGA of America since 2002. McDonald is the father of two boys, Trace and Tyler.
The McDonald File:
2007-present: Head Coach, University of South Carolina
2006-07: Associate Head Coach, University of South Carolina
1994-95: Assistant Coach, Georgia Tech
2006: Director of Instruction, Cartersville Country Club, Carterville, Ga.
2003-06: Founding Partner and Instructor, Accelerized Golf, Atlanta, Ga.
2000-03: Director of Instruction, City Club Golf Academy, Atlanta, Ga.
1999-2000: Designer for City Club Golf Academy, Atlanta, Ga.
1998-2000: Instructor, The Atlanta Golf Center, Norcross, Ga.
1996-98: Director of Instruction, University Club, Columbia, S.C.
1989-94: Played professionally in South Africa and Canada and PGA and Nationwide Tour events
1985-88: Georgia Tech men’s golf team
1995 Inductee to Georgia Tech Sport Hall of Fame
1988 NCAA Championship Runner-Up
1988 GCAA Honorable Mention All-American
1985 GCAA Honorable Mention All-American
Bachelor of science in industrial management, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1989