After a strong collegiate career at Florida State, Cole Anderson is ready to compete as a professional golfer. Photo courtesy of Florida State University athletics

Cole Anderson remembers telling his parents when he was 12 that someday he’d become a professional golfer.

“I think at first they were probably like ‘OK, buddy. Sounds good,’ ” he said.

That dream is now a reality, as Anderson, 23, of Camden, has transitioned from amateur to professional.

Anderson, who led Florida State to a runner-up finish at the NCAA championships, made his professional debut at the PGA Tour Americas qualifying tournament – known as ‘Q School’ – in British Columbia last week.

He finished tied for 10th at 6 under, which earned him conditional status on the tour. As a result, Anderson could compete on tour events this summer, depending on the size of the field.

The PGA Tour Americas, which replaced the Canadian Tour and PGA Tour Latinoamerica, is the third tier of the PGA hierarchy. Players aim to play well enough to earn spots on the Korn Ferry Tour, which is the top development circuit for the PGA Tour.


Anderson held off on turning pro until he had exhausted his collegiate eligibility. The golfer who turned heads after winning three Class A titles at Camden Hills and dominated two Maine Amateur Championship tournaments, said it was a matter of when, not if, he would make that decision.

“To look back and to be like ‘It’s here’ is pretty wild,” he said recently. “But at the same time, it’s happened pretty quickly here. The transition hasn’t been slow. We’re only about 10 days from the end of the national championship, and here we are.”

He’s joined by Topsham’s Caleb Manuel, the three-time defending Maine Am champ who recently finished his own impressive college career at the University of Georgia. Manuel announced his decision to turn pro Friday, and will make his professional debut at the New Hampshire Open on Thursday. Manuel also played in a Q School event in San Jacinto, California and finished tied for 24th at 10 under, just inside the top-25 cut for conditional status.

Like Anderson, with whom his career has run parallel since they were competing against each other for high school championships, Manuel has been vocal about his aspirations for years, and repeatedly said that playing professionally has been the only goal of his golf career.

Now, it’s happening.

Caleb Manuel recently turned pro and he’ll compete in a variety of golf tournaments across New England this summer. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“To be honest, it hasn’t really set in. It doesn’t feel any different so far,” said Manuel, 22. “Once I make that first paycheck, whether it’s $1,000 or a couple grand, that’s probably when it will kick in.”


Anderson won his last collegiate match, taking down Auburn’s Carson Bacha 1-up as Florida State fell 3-2.

“I probably haven’t seen a person grow any more than Cole has,” FSU Coach Trey Jones said. “He migrated into a person his sophomore year who played in the national championship and played really good for us, and junior year the same, and senior year as well. If you had to look at kind of a career (timeline), you could say that’s pretty good.”

Jones said Anderson’s game will suit him in his professional career.

“Cole drives the ball really, really well. His long game is extremely consistent. That’s always going to be his benchmark,” he said. “He’ll play harder golf courses better than he’ll play easy ones because of that.”

Anderson has already shown he can measure up to the pros he’ll soon face. He led through three rounds before tying for third two years ago at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Live and Work in Maine Open. He said his career at FSU, including some slumps and injuries, prepared him for the hyper-competitive world of pro golf.

“It’s what I signed up for, it’s what I’ve worked the good majority of my life for,” he said. “It’s not one of those ones where I played golf for fun for 10 years, and then said ‘Hmm, maybe I’ll give a run at pro golf.’ I’ve been preparing myself for this for a long time.”


Anderson said his plan is to play mostly in Canada this summer, trying to qualify for Tour Americas events he doesn’t get selected for, before trying to earn a Korn Ferry Tour card through qualifying in the fall. If he makes the cut at an event, he will be automatically entered into tour events the rest of the season until September.

“That is pro golf. You’ve got to be ready to pivot at any moment,” he said. “I’ve kind of told people around me, ‘I have clubs, willing to travel.’ ”

Life won’t be any less hectic for Manuel, who is planning to play the New England professional circuit – the New Hampshire Open, followed by the Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island opens – unless he gets the email to participate in Tour Americas events.

He’ll now have money riding on how well he performs against those fields, though he said his Georgia experience, which had him compete against No. 1 world amateur Gordon Sargent and 2024 Masters and U.S. Open low amateur Neal Shipley, prepared him for that challenge.

“It just sets you up. Those guys are probably better than some of the guys I’m going to be playing against this summer,” Manuel said. “They kind of ho-hum it around and they shoot 3 or 4 under every round and they’re at the top of the leaderboard. It’s very doable, and I know when I’m playing my best I can compete with them.”

Manuel showed again he has that kind of game when he shot 7-under 65 in the final round in San Jacinto, California to climb 32 places and make the cut-off.


Cole Anderson helped lead the Florida State golf team to a runner-up finish at the NCAA Division I championships. Photo courtesy of Florida State University athletics

“I felt my game was close, and just to see a couple of putts go in (was big),” Manuel said. “It’s important to keep telling myself that. … Keep reminding myself ‘You’re good enough.’ ”

There will be more on his plate now. He’ll have to arrange for travel, manage equipment and pay for meals and lodging after being, he acknowledged, “spoiled” by college life.

“I paid $50 for a yardage book. Our coach just gave us yardage books before we’d leave,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff you don’t even think about.”

That’s not the only change.

“Wearing pants is probably the hardest part. I had to wear pants (at the qualifier) and it was 95 degrees out there,” he said with a smile. “But I’m going to keep playing golf the way I know how to. That’s not going to change.”

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