Making strides: Shannon Lipham has the LaGrange College golf team back in the hunt

Published 8:30 am Saturday, April 29, 2023

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The LaGrange College golf program has been a sleeping giant in recent years, but coach Shannon Lipham has revived the program in just under two years in charge.

“We finished the season ranked 53rd in the country out of 209 Division III golf programs,” Lipha said. “We finished in the mid 80s last year, so we are well ahead of where we were a year ago.

“Last year, I had three seniors and this year I started five freshmen, so I expect us to get better from here.” 

After a solid first year in charge, the program has blossomed this year. The team is six strokes better per round than they were a season ago.

“It is about getting LaGrange College back to where it was eight, nine, 10 years ago. There were few stronger programs in the country than LaGrange College,” Lipham said. 

This all started with recruiting. Lipham targeted some high schoolers to bring in and revitalize the starting lineup for the Panthers. Freshman Jeremy Edmunds has been the crown jewel in the program’s uptick in 2022-23. 

“He is ranked 59th in the country, and I believe he is the fourth best freshman in the country,” Lipham said. “There is a lot more to Jeremy than just golf. He is a 4.0 student and won two awards at our honor’s day last week. He is an extremely well rounded young man. Obviously a hell of a golfer, but he brings more than that to the table.”

The season had highs and lows like any other season, but the highs the Panthers reached the season were some of the highest peaks the program has experienced in years. LaGrange College won its first tournament since March 2, 2020, when the Panthers held on to a win the Port City Invitational Championship on March 7 of this year. It was the first 54-hole championship since claiming the Jekyll Island Invitational on March 20, 2016.

“For us to win down in Savannah was extraordinary,” Lipham said. “It is impossible to duplicate the experience for those young guys. It came down to the last day against Hampden-Sydney.

“One of my freshmen, Garrett Armbrust, made an eight-foot par putt, knowing he had to make it for us to win the golf tournament. That was special.”

Eli Rogers (Athens, Ga.) finished in a tie for seventh with a 72-76-77-225 to help push the team over the line at the Port City Invitational. Freshman Martin Prlender, an international player from Argentina, shot 77-75-79-231 and is a player that Lipham expects to make a big jump next season. “He played some wonderful golf this year and was a little inconsistent. He’s going to make a big jump, and I firmly believe that.”

One of the major factors when recruiting golfers to LaGrange is how they will fit into the community. It is not the easy transition to college, but Lipham strives to find the right fits behind the golf course. 

“These guys have fit into the small college, tight-knit community we have here.”

The trick now is to play more consistent golf week to week. The Panthers showed this season that they can compete with the very best this season but were not consistent enough from round to round. With the experience the team got last year, Lipham will demand even more from his team next season.

“If these guys work hard in the offseason, I firmly believe we can be in the top-25 conversation next year,” he said. “It is going to be a lot of improvement, but I believe these guys have it in them if they are willing to work for it.”