NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the history of the Lipscomb golf program, no player has ever been better than Dawson Armstrong.
After four years of rewriting the record books and putting together the most decorated career in program history, maybe even Lipscomb athletics history, Armstrong announced Sunday his decision to forgo the remainder of his senior season with the Bisons to start his professional career.
“After much thought, prayer and conversation with those around me, including coach (Will) Brewer, I have decided to bypass postseason and turn professional,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong’s decision will keep him from competing in the NCAA Tournament after being selected last week to play in the Raleigh, North Carolina Regional as an individual.
He automatically qualified for regional play by winning a second-straight ASUN crown in late April. It would have been his fourth straight appearance in the NCAA’s.
“This is a very bittersweet decision as I cannot be more proud of the accomplishments and memories at Lipscomb,” Armstrong said. “For this I will forever be thankful.
“I hope to make Lipscomb proud as I begin my pro golf career.”
After securing a sponsor exemption, Armstrong has set his eyes on May 24-27 to make his professional debut when the Web.com Tour makes a stop in Music City for the Nashville Golf Open benefitting the Snedeker Foundation. He hopes to have a leg-up on the competition as the tournament will be played at the Nashville Golf & Athletic Club, also known as Lipscomb’s home course.
“A huge thank you to Web.com for giving me this incredible opportunity to make my hometown proud,” Armstrong said. “I hope to see everyone out at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club.”
Ranked 16th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and No. 6 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings, Armstrong’s debut could come later this week, however, as he attempts to qualify on Monday for the Web.com’s Knoxville Open, which is set for May 10-13. He tees off at 7:15 a.m. at Oak Ridge Country Club in a field of 312 players, where he must finish in the top six to qualify for this weekend’s Open.
“We want what’s best for Dawson,” Lipscomb’s Director of Golf Will Brewer said. “So we feel for his career at this time, it’s best for him to go play these opportunities that he has been given. I think he would have been successful at the regional and without question, I think he could have won the NCAA’s.
“That’s always the upside, but for college golf, that’s the end of that upside. We felt like if he could get this opportunity, and especially being so close to home, it would have been selfish to ask him to play in the NCAA’s rather than turn pro right now. This is what he wants to do for his career, it’s what he’s been building to for so many years now. You can’t pass on these opportunities when it’s given to you on a platter.”
The Brentwood native will then go north to continue his pro career on the PGA Tour Canada, known as the Mackenzie Tour.
In late March, Armstrong successfully qualified for the Mackenzie Tour in a 72-hole event at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida when he capped a furious charge on the final day with a -6, 66 to win the event. The victory granted him fully exempt status for all 14 stops across Canada on the 2018 schedule. If he is the top finisher on the Mackenzie Tour at the end of the season, he would then earn an exemption for the full 2019 Web.com Tour.
“Dawson’s had a phenomenal college career and we feel like he's going to have a phenomenal professional career,” Brewer said.
What Armstrong did in his career as a Bison is nothing short of legendary.
He is just the second player in ASUN Conference history to win three Golfer of the Year awards (2016-18) as well as earn four All-ASUN First Team selections.
He became the first player in 12 years to win back-to-back ASUN individual titles after finishing on top of the field by three strokes with a -7, 135 (69-66) two weeks ago at the ASUN Golf Championship in Braselton, Georgia.
He also was named ASUN Golfer of the Week an astonishing 13 times, breaking the conference’s record for the most weekly awards in any sport in ASUN history.
“Dawson was a tremendous recruit when we recruited him here,” Brewer said. “We knew he was going to be a good player, a really good player, but I don’t know if any of us dreamed that he would be as accomplished in four years as he has become.
”He is the most accomplished player to play at Lipscomb and in the ASUN.”
Expected to soon be a two-time All-American, Armstrong leaves Lipscomb at the top of every statistical category.
His 71.20 career scoring average is the lowest mark in school history. He lowered his average in each season - 71.94 as a freshman, 71.71 as a sophomore, 70.93 as a junior and 70.26 as a senior. Those are the four lowest single-season scoring averages in program history.
He won 10 tournament titles for the Bisons – no other player in program history has ever won more than three. Of 142 total rounds played in his career, he finished at par or better in 86 of them, that is twice as many as the next in line.
He drained 505 career birdies, including a single-season record of 143 as a junior. Fellow senior Bison Eric Ansett is second on the all-time list with 385.
Armstrong has also chipped in 19 career eagles, and owns 12 of the 15 lowest rounds in program history. Earlier this season at the Ryman Hospitality Intercollegiate, he fired a Richland Country Club course record with a 63 in the final round. Officially, that is the lowest round in the program’s NCAA era.
In 2017, Armstrong also set The Grove Club’s collegiate course record with a 65 in the second round to help him earn the NCAA College Grove Regional Medalist honors at -8 (69-65-74).
“That is a testament to his work ethic, his desire and his character,” Brewer said of Armstrong’s career accomplishments. “Ben Pellicani, our associate head coach, helped has helped him on the technical side, while I have helped him on the mental aspect. I think because of this, he developed into a polished product.
“I feel it emphasizes the fact that we know how to prepare players. I don’t say that arrogantly, I just think it shows we know what it takes to get a player where he needs to be.”
Armstrong’s amateur career not only includes wins at the 2015 Western Amateur and 2015 Dogwood Invitational, he was an alternate on the 2017 Walker Cup Team, a two-time selection to Ben Hogan Award Watch List and was named a semifinalist for the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year.
When Armstrong signed his letter of intent to play for Lipscomb in 2014, the Bisons program was ranked 185th in the country. He now leaves the Purple and Gold as a top-60 program and in much better shape than it was four years ago.
The departure of Armstrong could have some wondering what’s next for the program. For sure things will be tougher in 2019 with a once-in-a-generation type player gone, but Coach Brewer believes this is just the beginning.
“I'm just happy to know that we have a platform now at Lipscomb that can provide the opportunity for a player to come here and grow enough to be able to pursue his dream of playing on the Tour,” Brewer said. “I had the same dream when I was a player, but in the end God has a plan for everyone. His plan for me was to be here when Dawson came in and I'm glad I got to be a part of that.
“I think I think the one thing that we can do for Lipscomb and for Dawson, is to turn up in droves on May 24 with our Lipscomb shirts on and encourage him to play well. We want to show who Lipscomb is and what we can become.
“We need to be thinking bigger than we’ve ever thought because Lipscomb can do great things. We just have to believe it and trust it.”