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College golf

Despite lost fall season, Anderson continues to build game — one shot at a time

Camden native lost fall portion of schedule to COVID-19, but still occasionally competes in events
By Zack Miller | Nov 10, 2020
Courtesy of: Ross Obley Cole Anderson of Florida State University.

Tallahassee, Fla. — When Cole Anderson arrived in Florida at the end of August for his "redshirt" sophomore season on the Florida State University men's golf team, he prepped for his second full year as a Seminole, despite the ever-present dark cloud of COVID-19.

Fresh off winning his second straight Maine Amateur Championship in July, Anderson finished tied for seventh in the inaugural Maine Event on Aug. 12-13, but the now 20-year-old did not know that was to be his last competitive tournament for the next three months.

Season gone

Not long after the Camden native arrived in Tallahassee for his Division I college golf season, Anderson learned, as well as the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, that the season was canceled.

Anderson, a three-time Maine Class A high school individual golf champion (he was runner-up another year), said he was "obviously disappointed" by the news when it broke.

"I think I saw a news post somewhere, and then as soon as the decision came out a meeting was scheduled for [the golf team] to fill us in on the finer details," Anderson said. "There was a little bit of confusion and frustration, just because we knew other conferences were going to keep playing.

"I think everyone transitioned pretty well to focusing on the things we can control right now, and doing the best we can to keep getting better."

The ACC was not the only conference to cancel the fall portion of the 2020 men's golf season, as the Big Ten and Pac-12 followed suit, while the Southeastern Conference and Big-12 decided to hit the links.

Geographically, SEC golf programs are within driving distance of FSU, so the thought of those programs playing other teams in competitive golf and the 'Nols not was tough to swallow, but Anderson knows the team has to push forward.

"It’s tough, and frustrating," he said. "I think this is a good golf team that is going to have an opportunity to do a lot of good things in the spring. The plan for us is to come out firing when we are able to play again, whenever that is.

"Just like with all of this, there isn’t anything you can really do. You just have to accept it. We have to take care of our work now so that when we come out in the spring, it doesn’t take us a while to get rolling. We have to be ready to go."

In the meantime, Anderson and his teammates are competitive with each other, and have a new revitalized home course to play on in the par-72 Seminole Legacy, which is "one of the harder courses in college golf now," he said.

"We’ve done a bunch of playing two-day [tournaments] with everyone on the team," said Anderson. "Coach has made it pretty clear that everything we do this fall will impact who is, and is not, playing in the spring. I think everyone has been pretty focused and competing hard, doing what they need to do."

Azalea Tournament

The intra-team competition scratched the competitive itch for the time being, until one of Anderson's assistant coaches received a call that a spot had opened up in the Azalea Tournament Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 at the Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C.

"I was at practice and I got a call from one of the assistant [coaches], and asked me if I wanted to play in the Azalea," Anderson said. "I said 'isn’t that right now coach,' because it was the day before the practice round. He said someone withdrew so they had an open spot, and called the head coach to ask if they had anyone else that wanted to play, since we already had one member of our team playing. I was on the road an hour from then, so I literally found out an hour before I left."

Anderson could not turn down a little healthy competition, as he finished tied for 30th among 87 golfers, at 5-over par, after shooting a four-day total of 289 (74-70-74-71).

"There was definitely some competition rust for sure, but it felt great to get the jitters going again, and to get out and compete," Anderson said. "I felt like I did some things well, but there was a little bit of a lack of sharpness that comes with not playing tournament golf for a while. The last tournament I played was the Maine Event in August, so it’s been a good chunk of time since I had played any competitive golf.

"It was good to see where my game was and do an assessment of what I need to be focused on in the next month or so, as we look forward to the spring. Would I have liked to play better, with a better result and finish? Yeah, sure, but I think it’s a good starting point for me, and a good place to build off of from here."

With the spring portion of the 2020-21 season slated to start in January, Anderson admits he's "happy I got this under my belt."

"To have something that gives me an idea where my game is at was very helpful," Anderson said. "You can feel great, but your game is different in tournaments, than it is hitting balls on the range, putting on the putting green, or practice. You have to see what the pressure does to your game, and that’s the real way to figure out how you are doing.

"[The tournament] made it pretty clear to me that I need to play in a few more before the spring. I need to be able too see where I’m at, maybe directly before the spring season to have a good gauge on where the areas of focus need to be."

With his first competitive swings under his belt in three months, Anderson now has an idea of where to work on his game, before he takes part in the Florida Amateur in December.

"I compounded a lot of little things that led to a few double-bogeys," he said of the Azalea event. "I did a lot of making a birdie, and then immediately handing it back on the next hole. I made a lot of those sloppy errors, and that’s where the tournament rust that you aren’t necessarily used to was. Competitive golf is different and it requires a different mentality, and there isn’t a way to fully replicate it when you’re not in a tournament."

Hopeful for spring

As the 2021 portion of the season inches closer, there is no guarantee it will be held, as the world we live in is more fluid than ever.

"I would hope we have a season," Anderson said. "We are trying to be patient and see what happens, but I haven’t heard anything on the contrary yet. I think if the season gets cancelled that will be a bridge we cross when we get there, if that is the situation.

"This is such a fluid situation that there isn’t really anything we can do at all. We have to wait and see and hope for the best. Everybody wants to play, and that’s why we are here."

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