Lander men's golf head coach Roger "Chipper" Bagwell announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign after spending 13 seasons as the team's head coach and 40 years on the campus of Lander as a student, administrator and coach.
The 1973 Lander graduate is a four-time Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year who led the Bearcats to six NCAA Tournaments and the national championships in 2007 after starting the men's golf program in 2005. As the men's head coach, Bagwell has coached a Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year (Michal Pospisil, 2017) and four PBC Freshmen of the Year (Jake Amos, 2007; Max Fischer, 2011; Jordan Ainley, 2014; Conor Richards, 2017).
"I really wanted to rebuild our men's golf program into a top-10 program again before retiring," Bagwell said. "Our program is in very good shape now. We have very good people who happen to be very good golfers. We have a good nucleus back along with a couple of talented freshmen. I have challenged our players to work extremely hard and let's make my last year one to remember."
The 67-year-old Bagwell won the Peach Belt Conference Championship in 2013 as the women's golf head coach in just the program's second year of existence. Teresa Caballer Hernani was named Co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the conference that year after setting the Peach Belt record for the lowest stroke average in a season (73.50). She was named a first-team All-American following the season.
Bagwell led the Lander men to the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons from 2007-10 and back-to-back trips in 2015 and 2016. The 2007 team finished 14th at the national championship.
The first of Bagwell's two PBC Coach of the Year honors with the men's program came after his 2009 team won the Queens Invitational and the AASU/Southbridge Pirate Invitational and rose into the top-10 of the national polls. The Bearcats finished in the top five in seven of their nine regular-season events. Lander advanced to the NCAA Southeast Regional for the third consecutive season.
Bagwell was named the 2013 PBC Coach of the Year for the women's program when his Bearcat team led the league with a stroke average of 208.3 per round. Lander finished the regular season with two wins and three second-place finishes in its last five events. The Bearcat also cracked the national top-25 poll for the first time in 2013 and achieved a No. 18 national ranking, their highest ever.
Bagwell earned PBC Coach of the Year honors on the men's and women's sides in 2015. The men's team earned four top-10 finishes in the regular season, won the North Georgia Fall Invitational and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years. The women's team finished with six top-five finishes in nine regular season events and Sophie Stone earned PBC Freshman of the Year honors.
"I have been privileged to be able to coach so many student-athletes," said Bagwell. "I've enjoyed many highs and a few lows but, at the end of the day, Lander University has been home for me."
Bagwell's coaching career at Lander began in 1977, when he was hired as the women's basketball coach. In his final year as the women's coach in 1980-81, Lander was 21-3 with a 19-game winning streak and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the the national poll.
After serving as an assistant coach for the men's basketball team under Finis Horne for eight seasons, Bagwell was named the head coach in 1997. The 1998-99 team won the PBC regular season title and became the first PBC team to ever advance to the Elite Eight. The Bearcats finished the season with a 25-7 record and ended the season ranked in the top-10. Geoff Brower was tabbed as a first-team All-American.
Bagwell stepped down as the men's basketball head coach in 2004, compiling a 159-126 overall record in 11 years as head coach for the men's and women's programs. He is the only coach in Lander University history to coach four different teams and all four of his teams have been nationally ranked.
Bagwell attended Ware Shoals High School where he was a four-sport letterman. He went on to play baseball at Anderson College before transferring to Lander to finish his degree.
At Lander, he also served as the first Director of the Big Blue Club (now the Bearcat Club) in 1995. Bagwell developed the Big Blue Basketball Camps into an event where players and teams come to enhance their skills each summer. Bagwell has also served as the assistant athletics director for sports marketing.
Bagwell, who is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling and secondary administration at Clemson University.
The Bearcats and Bagwell will begin one final run September 25-26 at the season-opening Cougar Invitational in Columbus, Ga. Lander is scheduled to play in eight events during the regular season, concluding with the Bearcat Classic on March 26-27.
"I appreciate all of the support from the Lander family, the Greenwood community and all the players that I have coached," Bagwell said. "I have really been blessed to have a career here at Lander University."