A year ago, Cole Anderson of Camden was one of the best high school golfers in Maine, and, as such, his life revolved around the game, as he prepared to make a giant leap forward in the sport.

Now, that leap has been made, and Anderson, a finance major and redshirt-freshman at Florida State University, adjusts to the swing of things as a Division I athlete, and one of 10 on the Seminole golf team.

"It’s been pretty good in a lot of ways," said Anderson, a three-time state Class A individual champion (and runner-up the other year) from Camden Hills Regional High School. "I’m trying to do it outside of results-based right now. I played pretty decent at Olympia Fields [Country Club in Illinois], the second event of the year, and I struggled [at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Arizona] the first event of the year. I had a good first round and then just fell off.

"We just had a match play event — the Jack Nicklaus Collegiate Invitational at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio — and I didn’t lose any matches. Overall, I’m progressing and getting better and optimistic on where things are heading."

The Seminoles have played in three events to date, as the team finished 15th among 15 at the Maui Jim Invitational, eighth among 15 at Olympia Fields in the Fighting Illini Invitational and lost 4.5-1.5 to Ohio State University in the first day of the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, but bounced back and beat the Buckeyes 3.5-2.5 in the second day of the event.

In the Fighting Illini Invitational, Anderson finished tied for 27th with a 6-over par 216 in the three-day event, after a 71 on the first day, 74 on the second round followed by a 71 in the final round.

At the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, Anderson tied Ohio State's Jackson Chandler on day two, as Anderson and Chandler shot 80. Day one results were unavailable.

"Cole is a talented freshman," said Seminoles head coach Trey Jones. "We are still getting to know him, still getting to know his game and how we can best help him. He’s been a positive edition to the team, and we look forward to seeing his progress.

"The thing is we are fortunate here that everyone in the locker room, to the right and left, was the best in their state or area, and that’s why people come to Florida State. I would say his talent level is on par with the others in the locker room."

Busy bee

The fall portion of the schedule is nearly complete, as Anderson and the rest of the Seminoles have one event left, before the start of the spring portion of the schedule.

"That’s the biggest difference is that there are two seasons," said Anderson. "Travel is different for sure. In high school you aren’t getting on a plane and going to an event for four days, then coming back and practicing until your next event. It’s a lifestyle change, but it’s not too different from what I do during the summer, except I’m with five other guys, instead of being by myself.

"I think I’m adjusting pretty well. The golf courses are harder and the competition is better. I have to keep trying to push and get to the point where I feel like I’m competing at a really high level."

The "push" starts at 5:15 a.m., as Anderson wakes up, grabs a cup of coffee, and heads to the gym for weight training at 6 a.m. An hour later, he's back home to have breakfast, followed by class from 9 to 11 a.m., then sports medicine for treatment, stretching and recovery activities consume time.

Next is lunch, then home again to change for practice, which starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m., but "typically guys leave around 6 to 6:15." Anderson then has dinner, and hits the books, as he completes his school work and presses "the reset button for the next day."

It is a much different schedule, but a routine he has become accustomed to.

"There are times where if you don’t break it up, you feel like you’re dragging, but our coach does a good job of making sure we have [down time]," said Anderson. "Traveling takes a lot out of you, and guys are starting to get sick, so you need to take care of yourself. I like staying busy, and I don’t like idle time, so it doesn’t really bother me."

The schedule requires time management skills, something Anderson says "you don't really have a choice" in.

"The hardest thing is balancing the school and golf stuff, because on one hand I’m here to be a student, and on the other hand, I’m here to be an athlete," said Anderson. "Ideally, in my future, I’ll still be on the athlete side of things, but it can be a challenge. You’ve got a quiz due at midnight, but workouts at 6 a.m., so you say to yourself, I can get this in, or I can stay up and study the extra hour and take [the quiz] and not go to bed until 12:15 to 12:30.

"If you’re smart you don’t put yourself in that situation, but sometimes you don’t have a choice, so you had a bunch of stuff on your plate that last couple of days and forced to do an assignment right until then. Finding that balance [is key]."

The schedule, travel and school work is enough to turn a few hairs gray, but can also affect the sport he came to perfect.

"If you go about it right it’s not overly difficult," said Anderson. "If you don't get enough sleep it can definitely mess up your golf game. I don’t think the schedule is unreasonable. It’s doable as long as you stay on top of your stuff. You need to be smart about managing your time well, and being efficient. You need to practice more efficiently so you’re not practicing six hours, and not milling about and focusing on specific things."

Despite the rigors of his schedule, a social life is still in the cards.

"The guys on the team spend most of their time together," said Anderson. "We’ll go to football games when we are in town, and any other sporting events. Last year I went to a bunch of baseball games. There’s three guys that live in a house together which is big enough where the whole team can go over there and watch football together. We spend enough time together, but we are definitely busy since we are in season.

"It doesn’t really bother us, because we didn’t really come to do a ton of social stuff, but we have a ton of balance. I don’t feel like I’m missing out [on anything]."

Iron sharpens iron

One of the most signficant changes Anderson has to face is the uptick in competition, as the 18-year-old goes toe-to-toe with the best in the country week-in and week-out.

"Every team is very solid," said Anderson. "There’s not a lot bad players. It’s definitely a step up. I would say some of the bigger amateur events I’ve played, it’s a small step up from that. It’s not necessarily the best players in the field are any better, there’s just more of them.

"I would play a high level junior event, and there would be 15 guys, and I would say these guys are pretty darn good, but now there’s 45 out of an 80-man field that are pretty world class. It’s basically a ladder, and you keep going up. It basically comes down to that skill gap. There is less of a gap between the best player in the field and the worst player in the field.

"In Arizona, I think the kid in last was 12-over par, and the kid in first was 7-under, or around there. That’s not a lot, but that’s over three days. If you break that down that’s about five shots a day, which isn’t huge. The U.S. Amateur is the type of field you are looking at. The U.S. Amateur may be a touch better, but you are looking at the same sort of competition."

As Anderson faces the best players around, it only helps to improve his game.

"It’s not even a question [my game has gotten better]," said Anderson. "It’s more of a consistency thing. I feel like I’m more in control of things, and more around my dispersions a lot better and my scores. My bad days have gotten better, and that’s something you need to keep working to get better.

"The goal is to continue to make your good days better and bad days better. That’s how you win golf championships. Golf is one of those funny things where you are never going to be playing well every day. You’re going to have one round where you feel like you don’t have your best stuff, but that’s when you are going to win those tournaments."

Perks of an athlete

All the travel to different parts of the country has allowed Anderson to see, and experience, iconic courses, which most have only seen on television.

"Olympia Fields because it’s hosted major championships, and [Muirfield] has the Memorial Tournament which is held there [have been some of my favorites]," said Anderson. "To play golf courses I’ve watched on T.V. is pretty cool. You go see [where] certain shots were made. There was a flop shot that Tiger [Woods] made [in the Memorial Tournament] in one of the years he won, and it was one of his iconic shots, and I went over and dropped the ball where [Woods] pulled it off. It was pretty incredible. Just to go around and say, ‘I know this hole’ and play it has been pretty fun."

To date, the experience has been what Anderson expected.

"Honestly, this is the type of thing I’ve wanted to do for pretty close to six years, when I decided I wanted to play collegiately," said Anderson, the son of Derek and Tia Anderson. "Even the stuff that may feel like a chore at the time, you’re not feeling like you don’t like, it’s just sort of part of it. There really isn’t anything that comes to mind that I don’t like.

"In general, the program we have is a great environment to get better. We’ve got great facilities and a golf course that is being finished right now that will be great. I’ve got great teammates, great coaching, and it’s pretty ideal if you want to get better at golf. It’s worked out pretty well so far."