Exuding confidence and playing some of the best golf in his high school career, David Lipscomb Academy senior Dowling Armstrong goes for a bit of history this week.
Armstrong will attempt to win his second straight TSSAA state championship — his third straight state title — when he tees it up with some of the state’s best players in the two-day Class A/AA tournament, beginning Tuesday morning in Manchester.
“If I’m on top of my game, I don’t think there’s anyone who can beat me,” Armstrong said last week. “I’m looking forward to it, and I like the course [Willowbrook Course in Manchester]. It favors my game.”
Two years ago, Armstrong, playing for Georgia Christian in Valdosta, won the Georgia state tournament when he shot a tournament record 67. Last year at Willowbrook, he rallied on the second day to win the Tennessee A/AA title with a 72-66 — 138. That score tied him for the sixth best in the history of the tournament.
The Armstrong family moved to Nashville prior to Dowling’s junior year when his father Dale took a position as Senior Development Council at Lipscomb University.
“I’ve been playing pretty well over the last month, and our team hadn’t lost a match [until last week’s Region 5-A/AA tournament],” he said. “We won district easily.”
A huge disappointment came last week when Lipscomb finished second to Macon County in the Region 5-A/AA tournament. That meant the Mustangs could not compete for the state team title after they finished second last year.
Armstrong and teammate Logan Matthews made the field as individual qualifiers. Armstrong’s younger brother Dawson, a junior who finished ninth last year, didn’t qualify this year.
“That was very disappointing [not to qualify as a team],” Dowling Armstrong said. “Macon County is good, they have five guys who can shoot in the mid 70s. And it was very rainy and windy that day, and that tends to equalize things.”
Armstrong said he started playing golf at “about age 6 or 7,” mainly due to the encouragement of his father who was a pro player for eight years.
“I hated golf at first because I wasn’t very good at it,” he said. “It wasn’t until I was 14 before I even broke par.”
After that, Armstrong’s game took off, and he started winning tournaments. His brother has pushed him along the way.
Asked if the competition between the two was a friendly rivalry, Armstrong said, “sometimes, not so friendly. We’re both pretty competitive.”
On top of that, their younger brother Davis is a freshman player for Lipscomb.
“He’s going to be very good,” Dowling predicted.
Recently, Dowling opted to sign a full scholarship at Lipscomb University as a direct result of former pro tour player Will Brewer being hired as the Bisons coach Sept. 4. He turned down several other DI offers.
“He is coming down the second day to watch me play,” Armstrong said. “I’ll definitely look forward to that.”
Armstrong will have the unique opportunity to three-peat as a two-state state champ and win the first state golf title for the newly named Lipscomb Academy (formerly David Lipscomb High School).
“I really like my chances,” he said. “Last year, I had a bad first day, I kind of blew it on the last couple of holes [when he shot a 72]. But I got off to a good start and shot 66 the second day. My goal is to shoot 134 this year.”