By: Andrew Mindeman/Director of Athletic Communications
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- In the fall of 2016, a tall and lanky left-handed golfer made his Covenant debut with a 77 and finished 19th in that season-opening tournament. Four years and 5,323 strokes later and that golfer etched his name across the program's record book.
Nathan Hawkins is that golfer.
Hawkins, a senior from Lexington, N.C., wrapped up his illustrious career on the course earlier this spring and in the process rewrote Covenant program history.
"His short game was absolutely unmatched, even by coach," said head coach Tom Schreiner. "Nathan's bunker game is superior to any college player I have witnessed in 15 years, his sand game is second to none in Division III golf."
The 6-foot-2 lefty ended his career with a myriad of program records. His career scoring average of 77.14 broke Trey Patterson's previous program record by .01, while Hawkins' season scoring average of 75.0 this year broke a record that Patterson set seven years ago.
Hawkins' consistent approach was evident throughout those four years as his score in each of his 70 career rounds counted towards the team's score, the first player to achieve that feat in the program's 16-year history. He also became the first player in program history to lead the team in scoring average in all four years.
Perhaps Hawkins' best rounds came at the 2018 Maryville Fall Invitational. Hawkins began the tournament, which was the final event of the fall and held in the last week of October, with a 73. However, Hawkins found another level in the final round as he tied a program record with a career-best 68, becoming the third player in the program's history to card that number. Hawkins' 36-hole score of 141 set a program record.
Hawkins finished tied for third in Covenant history with eight top-10 finishes. He played in the USA South Tournament three times and would have been a shoo-in to compete in this year's event either as an individual or with the team. He registered a 1-under, 71 in the final round of the tournament as a freshman en route to placing 13th overall with a 224 (79-74-71).
One of the few records that Hawkins doesn't hold is the 54-hole tournament mark, but he got close. Hawkins fired a 216 (70-72-74) and finished 15th at the Rhodes Spring Classic as a junior in the spring of 2019. That score was just one stroke shy of tying the program record. Still, Hawkins has two of the top four 54-hole tournament scores.
Hawkins' play elevated the Covenant program. Last year, he helped Covenant to its best season in the NCAA era as the Scots broke into the top-70 in the national rankings for the first time and set a program record for scoring average while reaching the USA South Tournament.
As much as Hawkins accomplished on the golf course, he was equally impressive in the classroom. A three-time USA South All-Academic honoree, Hawkins is completing his degree in biology and plans to attend graduate school.
"His wry sense of humor, love for controversy, and epic knowledge of pro basketball and the PGA Tour made him entertaining and endearing on every trip," Schreiner recalled fondly. "All the while, with his microbiology book opened, an argument ensuing in the back seat, he never missed a beat, he would give his profoundly insightful take on the conversation then turns a page in his textbook and continued his academic disciplines maintaining an impressive GPA along the way."
That freshman who started his collegiate career so unassumingly ends his career as one of the most accomplished golfers in Covenant history.
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