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Catching Up With...

Catching Up With... Chris MacDonald, BCS'91

Head Coach of the men’s and women’s golf teams at the University of British Columbia and a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of Canada (PGA) since 1999, Chris is revered by the golfing community as one of the very best and most successful in the industry.

A passionate and dedicated golf coach, earning a Master’s Degree in Coaching Science from UBC in 2012, he has led the UBC golf program to the top of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)—winning 27 national championships during his 21 years with the Thunderbirds. He attributes the success to everyone around him and the donors who give to the golf program.

In October 2017—in typical head coach and fiercely supportive BCS alumni fashion—Chris surprised our Senior Boys Soccer Team with hot chocolate, dry clothes, and NHL tickets while they were in Vancouver competing in a rainy CAIS Soccer Tournament.

Chris was recently featured by the PGA of Canada about his “journey to becoming one of the most successful golf coaches in the NAIA.” We had the chance to catch up with Chris to hear about his journey from BCS’ Memorial Arena to the University Golf Club golf course at UBC.

Where are you now and what are you up to?
I’m the Head Coach of golf at the University of B.C. I’ve been coaching golf for a total of 27 years. My coaching philosophy is that when you play with good players, you play better yourself. So I encourage focus and being the best you can be by challenging yourself and keeping a balance between academics and sports. It shows you what you are capable of.

What led you to study at BCS?
I had family that attended BCS in the 50s and 70s. Before attending BCS I was at a high school in the Maritimes—the biggest in the Commonwealth—and I needed a change. BCS had a strong hockey program and a focus on academics and it was the mix I needed to make the move.

Clearly, it was the right move! His younger sister Alison MacDonald, BCS’94, followed suit soon thereafter.

How did your time at BCS prepare you for what you are pursuing now?
Being part of a team at BCS gave me a love for sharing in victories and demonstrated how one performs better when part of a team. 

What are your fondest memories from your time at BCS?
I have many fond memories from my time at BCS but cold walks from Chapman, everyone in their uniform in chapel, and playing in Memorial Arena are all favourite memories. BCS is also where I met my wife Hilary Dunn, BCS’93. BCS gave me lifelong friendships that have been deep and meaningful.

What’s something you wish you could tell your BCS self? /What advice do you have for our current BCS students?
These are all ideas I would share as they took me longer to learn than they should have:

  1. Attitude is everything. People want to be around others who bring energy and a sincere positive attitude, work for solutions to problems, and find time to laugh with others (and at themselves sometimes).
  2. Learn another language. It will open many doors for you, creating both friendships and employment opportunities. Also, generally, see the world when you’re young with that language if you can.
  3. Work hard, as there is real value in that ability to focus and push yourself, but make sure to take time to play with close friends and family, as they are the real true gift.