College sports

Anderson verbally commits to play golf at Florida State University

Camden Hills sophomore has won back-to-back state Class A champion
By Ken Waltz | Jan 10, 2017
Photo by: Ken Waltz Cole Anderson, 16, of Camden, watches the flight of his approach shot during a high school golf tournament for Camden Hills in the fall.

Camden — Cole Anderson has accomplished so much in golf, what with two state Class A individual titles and plenty of New England and national links accolades to his credit — and to think he is only a high school sophomore.

Well, although still a couple of years away, Anderson's future in golf has been settled as the Camden Hills Regional High School student-athlete will take his immense talents to The Sunshine State, more specifically, to Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.

That is, of course, after the 5-foot 11-inch, 155-pound Anderson spends the next few years vying for additional state, New England and perhaps national tournament championship hardware.

Anderson, 16, said he made a verbal commitment, on Friday, Jan. 6, to play his college golf at FSU.

Anderson has taken Maine high school golf by storm, leading the Windjammers to links success as medalist (low scorer) in most matches, as well as winning back-to-back state Class A individual crowns.

Anderson, who also sports a 4.0 grade-point average, is a member of the Camden Hills varsity baseball team and has excelled in ice hockey in the past, now will, in the future, play golf at the highest collegiate level in the country.

He will be a Division I student-athlete, something many Maine athletes aspire to, but few achieve.

It is the road most golf touring professionals take — play at a high level in high school, then in college and then, if all falls into place, a career on the coveted PGA Tour.

FSU, the Seminoles, has a student population of more than 41,000.

For a Maine native to receive an opportunity — Anderson would not disclose what type of athletic scholarship or financial assistance he might receive from FSU in the future — at a southern, Division I school to play golf is rare.

There have been a few Midcoast residents who have played Division I golf in the past, including Troy Witham at Memphis State University in Tennessee and Ricky Jones at the University of Maine, but with the short playing season in the Pine Tree State, most residents do not get that far in the game. The must head south or west, as Anderson will do two years from (he also trains in Florida in the winter most years).

"To be able to play golf at the D1 level, especially at a school like Florida State, is a dream come true," said Anderson, a member of the Samoset Resort Golf Club. "It's also pretty special because, especially in our sport, not many people from this area get the opportunity to prove themselves at that level, so it's pretty cool that I'm going to have that chance.

"I'm infinitely grateful to coach [Trey] Jones and coach [Robert] Duck for giving me this opportunity and am truly excited to be a Seminole. As far as scholarship goes, I'd like to keep that between my family and the coaches at FSU. My main goal is making the most out of this platform I've been given and focus on getting as prepared for college golf as possible over the next two years."

Anderson's high school golf coach, Paul MacDonald, said he is pleased and impressed with what his golfer has accomplished.

"First, I think it's quite an accomplishment for anyone from the Northeast to have the opportunity to compete at a higher level especially when it comes to outdoor seasonal sports," said MacDonald, who also is Anderson's high school baseball coach. "When I think of Cole Anderson what comes to my mind? Cole is what coaches refer to as a low-maintenance player. You don't spend a lot of time worrying about what he is doing on or off the course. He is self-motivated, a team player, he is very objective of his game, he pursues opportunities to compete outside of his regular-season play, he is constantly working on his game, he has a plan. Most of all he has a love for the game of golf and he welcomes the opportunity to compete."

Anderson said the constant and consistent support of his parents, Tia and Derek Anderson of Camden, has helped him get to this point in his young life, both as a person and young athlete. "They're amazing people and I can't thank them enough for all their help," he said.

Anderson said his coach, Jeff Seavey out of the Samoset, "deserves a lot of credit for turning me into the golfer I am today. He's always been willing to take time out of his day to help with my golf game and I'm incredibly grateful for everything he's done for me as well."

Anderson said he will continue to work hard the next two years to improve and achieve his goals in school and off-season golf competition

"I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to play for such a successful program and to be able to play under coach Jones and coach Duck," Anderson said. "We have been looking at schools since the summer in between my eighth-grade and freshman year of school."

The youngster said golf is different than perhaps other sports because golfers tend to commit much earlier to college programs then other typical athletes.

"So if you want a chance to play for a top tier D1 school, early commitment is a given," Anderson said. "We visited a few schools, including FSU, Auburn, [University of Virginia], Duke [University] and Georgia Tech, and were in communication with some other schools as well. It became clear pretty quickly that FSU was the best fit for me. They have a great program and balance of academics/athletics and I'm very excited to have the opportunity to learn and develop with the help of coach Jones and coach Duck. The facilities are fantastic and the team has a really bright future and a lot of really talented players/commits. I immediately fell in love with the overall energy of the school. It's an unbelievable opportunity and I can't wait to get down there."

Even at a young age, Anderson's golf resume is extensive and impressive. He is a two-time state Class A champion, Portland Press Herald's 2015 High School Golfer of the Year, 2016 low amateur State of Maine Championships, 2016 New England Golf Association Junior Individual Champion and 2016 Samoset Resort club champion.

In 2016, Anderson finished third among 95 in the AJGA Coca-Cola Junior Championships, first among 42 at the New England Junior Amateur, sixth among 84 at the Northern Junior Championships, second among 51 at the Maine Junior Championships, eighth among 108 at the AJGA Killington Junior Golf Championships, 15th among 110 at the 67 annual Press Thornton Future Masters, eighth among 74 at the USGA Junior Boys Qualifier in New Hampshire, 27th among 103 at the 21st annual Innisbrook Easter Junior Classic, fourth among 56 at the HJGT Orlando Junior, 16th among 57 at the HJGT Tampa Bay Junior Challenge and 18th among 91 at the 21st annual Innisbrook Christmas Junior Classic.

In 2015, he finished ninth among 90 at the CJGA Junior World Challenge, 20th among 112 at the AJGA Coca-Cola Junior Championships, 11th among 42 at the New England Junior Amateur, eighth among 153 at the IMG Junior Worlds, 36th among 115 at the 66 annual Press Thornton Future Masters and third among 19 at the Challenge Cup Spinal Tech Classic.

Some of the former or current PGA Tour members who played at FSU are Paul Azinger, Jonas Blixt, Hubert Green, Jeff Sluman, Daniel Berger, Bob Duval, Nolan Henke, Brian Kamm, Kenny Knox, Brooks Koepka and George McNeill.

The current FSU golf team has 11 players from all over the world, including two from England. Coach Jones is in his 14th season with the Seminoles and is the director of golf for men and women at the school.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Seminoles qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament — the longest active streak in the Atlantic Coast Conference and tied for the sixth-longest nationally. Heading into the 2016-17 season, FSU has finished in the top five in 51 of its last 72 tournaments played, equating to an impressive 70.8 percent.

FSU also has been ranked number one in the country in the recent past.

Seminole coach Jones said he could not comment on Anderson's verbal commitment to the school due to NCAA rules.

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