Cole Anderson is one of the most accomplished high school golfers Maine has ever seen. But it was as a preschool hockey player that his parents realized their son looked at sports differently.

“My mom always tells me that she would remember me complaining about kids on my hockey team, that I didn’t think they worked hard enough, and how did they expect to get to the NHL if they didn’t work hard?” Anderson said.

Anderson, 17, laughs when he tells the story. But he’s never laughed at the concept of having big goals.

“I’ve always had what some people would call extreme aspirations,” Anderson said.

To this point, he’s met them.

Anderson enters his senior year at Camden Hills intent on becoming the first golfer to win four Class A individual titles. He set that goal before his freshman season, after Camden Hills Coach Paul MacDonald asked him what he wanted to accomplish.

“Right then, that tells you, ‘OK, this kid’s on a mission,” MacDonald said. “For a young fellow to have already thought about that was pretty impressive.”

He also knows he’ll be playing golf – on scholarship – at Florida State University. After his sophomore year, Anderson verbally accepted an offer to join a top-25 Division I program that helped hone 2018 U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka.

And after college?

“I want to make it on (the PGA) Tour and I want to make it to the top of that mountain,” Anderson said. “It’s a long ways away and it’s a very aggressive goal, but I feel I’ve always been willing to do what I need to do to achieve my goals.”

Here’s another example of Anderson meeting a goal. He plans to graduate from high school early so he can enroll at Florida State in January. He’ll take care of the final high school requirements with some community college courses this fall.

“But I put in most of the work my freshman, sophomore and junior year with the thought in my mind that if something like that came up, I would be prepared,” he said.

How does a 15-year-old have the foresight for that sort of planning when most of us can’t figure out what’s for dinner?

“Hey, I have those problems, too,” Anderson said. “Sometimes I under focus on other things. My room is not clean, I’ll tell you that much.”

Anderson’s success has gone well beyond the high school ranks. This summer, he successfully defended his title at the American Junior Golf Association’s stop at Sugarloaf Golf Club against an international field. In open amateur events against the best players in Maine, Anderson won the Maine Match Play Championship and was runner-up at the Maine Amateur.

Anderson is ranked 86th in the world among juniors, according to the Junior Golf Scoreboard, and No. 120 in the Rolex AJGA rankings. In addition to his win at Sugarloaf, Anderson placed 12th at the Killington Junior Golf Championship in Vermont, 17th at the Junior Golf Hub Championship in Massachusetts, and tied for 21st at the four-round Boys Junior PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.

Anderson’s strong summer earned him an invitation to The Junior Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida. Competing against 78 players from 18 countries, he was tied for sixth after the first round after a 1-under on the treacherous course known for its island green on the par-3 17th hole. He followed with rounds of 78 and 81 and finished tied for 64th.

“I struggled heavily the second two days, probably my worst rounds of the summer,” Anderson said. “Such is life. It’s another experience. The more you can put yourself in situations you haven’t been in, the more comfortable it becomes, and then the easier it becomes to perform.”

Two factors set Anderson apart from his peers in Maine and northern New England.

First is his ball-striking, which features a high ball flight that he can crank up to 300 yards with his driver. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Anderson has worked hard on his game – “He practices with a purpose,” MacDonald said – and his conditioning.

“He’s just on a different level than other players,” said Gorham Coach Scott Nevers. “I played a couple of groups behind him at the Maine Amateur. Everyone else was hitting driver off the first tee and Cole pulled out his 4- or 5-iron and cut the corner (of the dogleg left) with a little draw and was out 40 yards farther than everyone else. He makes it look easy.”

Then there is his uncommon maturity. Every shot is analyzed, factoring in the conditions and the situation. After both successes and setbacks, Anderson handles media interviews with poise and patience.

“It’s rare that he’s that personable and he’s going to Florida State,” said Brian Bickford, the pro at Val Halla in Cumberland and Greely High’s coach. “Often times when you’re being told all the time that you’re really good, your ego gets very big, very quick. He’s just so grounded.”

Anderson said he’s always been “fascinated with the icons of all the sports,” searching for clues about “how they got there and the mentality to stay there.”

“If I want to make it to where I’m aspiring to go,” he added, “having the correct mentality is one of the most important, if not the most important, things.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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