Coach Spotlight: Mark Gaynor


Photo by: Contributed Photo

In his eighteenth year as the head golf coach at FMU, Mark Gaynor works to further his impressive legacy.

Despite coaching at FMU for nearly two decades, Mark Gaynor, the head golf coach for the golf team, is coaching his 18th year at FMU happily, relishing his time in Florence coaching and playing the sport he loves.

“I just like the game,” Gaynor said. “People who have not played do not really understand the competitiveness of it, and it’s really, as you get better, a competitiveness with yourself; you basically are playing yourself.”

Gaynor thrives from this self-competition and uses it within his coaching. He focuses on each player individually, working with their unique strengths and weaknesses to help them reach their greatest potential. To improve is to compete with and beat yourself.

“That’s the fun of it—trying to figure out each guy, what they are good at, what are they bad at,” Gaynor said. “The thing that I like about coaching the most is coaching the individual to make them the best player they can be.”

His experiences in coaching have taught him that each player is different, and to make a successful team involves individual improvements.

“The longer I coach, the more I find there is no right way of coaching golf, there are just more ways of being a better golf coach,” Gaynor said. “That is the beauty of the game; you can do it by yourself, you can do it with a team or you can do it with friends. We are an individual sport that plays as a team.”

He does prefer one method of coaching, though: playing.

“I come from more of a playing side of golf,” Gaynor said. “You learn more from playing. You have to play golf to know what you need to practice, you do not practice to go play golf.”

His philosophy has certainly been successful thus far. In his long career at FMU, he aided the transition from Division II to Division I, earned several coaching awards and coached many All-Americans. His legacy is a strong one and is only continuing to grow.

Gaynor has led his program to establish roots within the Florence community. The Patriots use local golf courses to practice and play, which allows them to interact with the community and create relationships.

“Where we practice is where people are,” Gaynor said. “The people at the golf courses know who you are, and the guys are used to occasionally other people playing with us.”

Gaynor is also an avid golf player in his free time, still passionate for the game he has played for decades. His appearances at the golf courses and his coaching position have allowed him to make connections within the Florence community personally as well.

“The longer I have been here, the more I like it,” Gaynor said.

Besides playing and coaching golf, Gaynor likes to take around a month off in July every year to travel. He has been all over the world—Asia, South America, Europe, Scandinavia, to name a few. He is very excited to resume his travels now that the pandemic is coming to an end.

“I do about a month of traveling in the summer for the last 17 or 18 years,” Gaynor said. “I have yet to find a country where I do not like the food.”

You can find the Patriots on the golf courses around Florence, or at their last invitational,  which Wofford College will hold on April 12.