TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The summer is filling fast for Cole Anderson.

The Camden native, who turned 21 in November, recently wrapped his redshirt sophomore season playing college golf at Division I Florida State University.

A three-time state Class A golf champion during his time at Camden Hills Regional High School, Anderson shot so well at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I team golf championships (+7 for 217 over three rounds) he was the only member of the Seminoles to advance to the NCAA Division I individual golf championships May 27-30 at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Az.

Cole Anderson. Photo courtesy of Tim Cowie

Once there, Anderson finished tied for 40th among 169 competitors at +11 (291) after 72 holes at the prestigious event.

He fired 74 (par 70) on days one and two, 72 on day three and 71 on day four, as he improved incrementally each day of the tournament.

And that is what Anderson, the golfer, has done, consistently, throughout his links career: Incremental improvement.

“I think the main thing is I feel like I’m definitely still making progress,” said Anderson. “Maybe not as quickly as you dream it happening, but at the end of the day you’re just looking for constant improvement. And I feel like every year I’ve gotten better. And to be able to compete in national championships two years in a row now and be able to improve on last year’s performance, it’s tough to really complain about that.”

Anderson is back at home in the Pine Tree State and preparing for the Live and Work in Maine Open, to be played Thursday through Sunday, June 23-26 at the Falmouth County Club.

The event is a stop on the Korn Ferry Tour, which is, for all intents and purposes, professionally, the minor leagues of the PGA Tour.

It will be Anderson’s first Korn Ferry Tour event.

Cole Anderson. Photo courtesy of Tim Cowie

Typically, players must qualify to be part of the Korn Ferry Tour, either through the PGA Qualifying School (or Q-School) and playing — and performing well — in numerous tour qualifying tournaments across the country; or by making the cut in a qualifying tournament prior to a particular Korn Ferry Tour event.

In Anderson’s case, he was given an unrestricted exemption to participate. He was reached out to by Brian Corcoran, CEO and founder of Shamrock Sports in Portland, who “basically runs the tournament and is responsible for selecting the exemptions.”

“He reached out about my interest level in playing this year and obviously it was pretty high,” said Anderson. “I have played a couple events that are pro-am-type stuff, but this will be my first event on kind of a major tour. And to be able to do it in my home state is something I didn’t want to pass up and am very much looking forward to doing.”

Anderson has had success at the Falmouth Country Club in the past, winning the Maine State Golf Association’s (MSGA) Match Play Invitational in August of 2018.

“Anytime you can go back to a golf course you’ve had success at, it’s good,” he said. “I know they’ve made some changes since I won there from a tee-box perspective. They’ve made it longer for hosting the tour event. But I’m excited to see what they’ve done with the place. Obviously, it’s a place I’m comfortable at and looking forward to checking it out again.”

One other unrestricted exemption was given to 20-year-old Caleb Manuel of Topsham, who qualified for the 122nd U.S. Open, played June 16-19 in Brookline, Mass., and finished the high-profile PGA Tour event 17-over par 157 (83-74) to tie for 152nd among 156 golfers.

Anderson and Manuel played against one another in high school matches.

Anderson said: “I love the kid” and “I’m extremely happy and proud of him for what he’s accomplished this year.”

“Caleb and I talk all the time,” said Anderson. “He’s been one of my best friends in the golf world for a long time. I was telling somebody the other day that we love to push each other and get after each other on the whole top dog debate thing I guess. But it’s in a very healthy way. We’re friends first, but when we get on the golf course, we kind of put that on pause.”

The winner of the Korn Ferry Tour event will net a cool, $750,000 prize. Though Anderson, should he win the event, would not be eligible to collect the prize due to his amateur status.

“I’d have to tell them thanks, but no thanks,” he said. “It stings a little. But, there’s a reason I say it’s a marathon [not a sprint]. I’ve got to be patient. You play the golf, enjoy it and hopefully the money comes some day.”

For Anderson, the long-term focus has remained the same. To make the PGA Tour and become a full-time, professional golfer.

“I just need to continue on the path I’m on and hopefully have some good results moving forward,” he said. “It’s a long journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint in any way. I try and just let the golf do it for me and not project too far in the future and take it day by day, make those marginal improvements and let the results come. And hopefully more opportunities like the one coming up this week present themselves.”

There are a handful of ways for that dream to become a reality for Anderson, or any aspiring, talented golfer.

If a player wins three Korn Ferry Tour matches in a season — which, ultimately, will span 23 matches before the 2022 regular season ends in August — the player is automatically promoted to the PGA Tour.

Also, golfers who finish in the top 25 of the money list get promoted, as do the top 25 finishers in the Korn Ferry Tour finals, which is a three-event series starting Aug. 18 and wrapping Sept. 4.

“Essentially there’s 50 new [PGA] cards a year,” said Anderson. “There’s so many ways to do it. That’s sort of why I say just let the golf take care of itself. You play where you’re asked to play basically. Trying to figure out exactly what you need to do over the course of as many months to get your card, you end up forgetting you’ve got to just go and shoot a score. There’s so much that goes into it.”

With his high aspirations for the future, Anderson said he would not be competing in the Maine Amateur Golf Championships, which will be held Tuesday through Thursday, July 12-14 at Webhannet Golf Club in Kennebunk.

Anderson won back-to-back Maine Amateur titles in 2019 and 2020, while Manuel won the event in 2021.

“I’m extremely grateful to the MSGA and the support they’ve offered guys like me and Caleb over the years” said Anderson. “And I’ve made a lot of really great relationships, not just with the guys at the MSGA, but guys that play MSGA events. And a lot of my fondest memories are with the MSGA. But as far as where I’m at and where I’m heading, it doesn’t make sense for me to be competing there. From a long-term, career, big-picture perspective, there are other events and opportunities that make a little more sense for me right now.”

Anderson, who will be a redshirt junior next year at FSU (but a senior academically since he started school in the spring of 2019), will receive his degree next year and will make a decision about “whether I want to go back for that fifth year or if I want to give pro golf a shot.”

He admitted the road, while rewarding, has not always been easy as “there was a stretch where things got pretty hard and I was questioning some things.”

“It was difficult,” he said. “I had a lot of success at a young age and leading up into college, and I wanted to throw myself into a talent pool that was really going to challenge me. And it really has. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is I’m getting better. I’m finding some new perspective on defining what success is for me right now and just trying to look at things from a long-term perspective.”

Valuable lessons, such as not living and dying by the leaderboard and learning to accept outcomes, is some of the wisdom he has gained along his journey.

“It’s been a big learning curve for me,” he said. “And I’ll admittedly say it’s taken me longer then I probably in hindsight would have liked for me to make that jump, but everything happens for a reason and in its own time. I’m just glad right now that I’m in a good spot. I’m happy, I’m enjoying it and it’s a lot of fun for me still.”