Upstate Amateur Golf

Smithfields and Ernst team up to start teaching academy

Mark Ernst has joined with Smithfields Country Club to form the Mark Ernst Teaching Academy at Smithfields. The long time PGA Professional was joined by his daughter Austin, a 3-time winner on the LPGA Tour and Smithfields General Manager Coby Gambrell for the announcement. (GolfClub Photo)

Golf instructors are usually rated by the success of their students. With more than two dozen junior students who have gone on to earn college scholarships, Mark Ernst has a well earned reputation as an outstanding instructor.

The number of golfers he has helped to earn scholarships to play in college does not include his two most successful students, his son and daughter.

Ernst’s daughter Austin won the NCAA individual championship as a freshman at LSU before turning pro and now has three wins on the LPGA Tour.

His son Drew played college golf at Coastal Carolina and won the 2010 South Carolina Amateur championship.

Mark has been his daughters coach since she began playing golf at age 6. He hopes to help today’s young golfers develop their skills to the best of their abilities at his new golf Academy,

Ernst once served as an assistant professional at Smithfields before becoming the Director of Operations and PGA Professional at Cross Creek in Seneca.

Ernst has now returned to the Easley club to partner with Smithfields to form the Mark Ernst Golf Academy at Smithfields.

“Creating an instruction program here has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Coby Gambrell, the Smithfields General Manager. “Bringing in Mark to work with juniors and provide instruction opportunity for our club is going to be a great addition,” he said.

The Academy is expected to begin operating towards the end of February. Ernst will offer the Operation 36 Junior program as well as individual instruction for young golfers.

“Operation 36 is a great way to build skill and confidence in young golfers. The program helps develop long term success. The way our program will work, parents will be able to follow the success of their young golfer online,” he said.

Ernst’s son Drew won the 2010 SCGA Amateur title and now works with his sister as her caddie on the LPGA Tour. (GolfClub Photo)

The goal of Operation 36 is to start golfers closer to the hole rather than starting on the tee. As young golfers skills improve they move back further from the green eventually working up to play the full length of the hole.

Ernst will continue as a volunteer assistant with the Clemson women’s team and will provide individual instruction for golfers of all ages.

“I’ve traveled with Austin around the LPGA Tour and I’ve been able to see the latest technology that is used by Tour players. I’m going to have a launch monitor and will also use Body Track to help golfers,” he said.

Ernst has also arranged to use the indoor facilities at the Orange Whip World Headquarters in Easley when needed.

The arrangement with Smithfields does not limit Ernst’s lessons to only Smithfields members. Gambrell believes opening Ernst’s instruction to non-members could turn some of his students into club members.

“We have a great club here and we would hope some of the students might like to find out more about our club and consider becoming members,” said Gambrell.

ot every golfer Erst has worked with has gone on to play in college or turn pro, but the veteran professional is proud to have helped many more golfers enjoy the game.

“I’m very proud of all my students who went on to play college golf, but I’m just as pleased to know that I’ve been able to help many others improve their play and make golf a part of their lives,” he said.

A website for the Academy is in the process of being built. Until it is online Ernst can be reached at or by calling the Smithfields Golf Shop at 864-859-9545.

Categories: Upstate Amateur Golf

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