Cole Anderson of Camden follows the flight of his shot during the 2018 American Junior Golf Association Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Sugarloaf. The 18-year-old golfer won the Maine Amateur Championship on Thursday and is gearing up for his redshirt freshman season at Florida State University. Credit: Courtesy of American Junior Golf Association

The lone gap in Cole Anderson’s Maine golfing resume was the Maine Amateur championship.

The 18-year-old from Camden — a three-time Maine Class A high school champion who competed in the 2017 U.S. Amateur championships at age 16 — had come painstakingly close to capturing the Maine Amateur title, finishing third in 2017 and second by a single stroke last summer.

But his early graduation from Camden Hills Regional High School in winter, followed by a spring semester as a freshman on athletic scholarship at Florida State University, provided him a head start on this golf season.

The results were in full evidence this week as the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Anderson staked his claim as Maine’s top amateur golfer in decisive fashion.

Anderson led from start to finish during the 100th Maine Amateur at the Portland Country Club, with his 9-under-par 201 good for an eight-stroke victory on a course he had not seen until playing a practice round Monday.

“This event’s been on my schedule as a big one for a while,” said Anderson, who plays out of the Samoset Resort in Rockport. “To be able to get it done this week and check it off the list of events I’ve been trying to win is pretty satisfying.”

Anderson’s victory was rooted in consistency, with his 37 pars, 13 birdies and just four bogeys — three in the second round — over the tournament’s 54 holes good for rounds of 65, 69 and 67 on the par-70 layout.

His lead was three strokes after Tuesday’s opening round and six shots entering Thursday’s bogey-free final 18 holes.

“I felt like I had a pretty solid game plan for the golf course, executed it pretty well and kept everything in front of me for the most part,” he said. “I really didn’t press too much. I made a few good birdies here and there, but I didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes, which kept me from backing up much. It just allowed me to keep on keeping on, I guess, and continue to separate myself a little bit.”

Anderson credited his play in part to the extended golf season he now enjoys at Florida State. While he did not play matches for the Seminoles last spring, he practiced with the likes of reigning Atlantic Coast Conference champion John Pak in anticipation of joining the varsity roster full time this fall.

“Playing with [Pak] day in and day out and seeing how he and the other guys go about their stuff, they’re all really good players and there’s obviously great coaching down there,” Anderson said. “It all helped my golf game mature and become a little more polished.”

He also played in two noncollegiate amateur tournaments down south last spring — winning one and adding a top-five finish in the other. That left him well ahead of his old Maine-based golf timetable when he returned home at the end of the school year.

“Golf unfortunately is not really a sport where it’s like riding a bike, you’ve got to have reps to stay sharp,” Anderson said. “Just being down there where we practice sometimes eight or 10 hours a day makes it easier because I have a much better understanding of what I’m doing and how I’m hitting it.

“It helps with the confidence, too, because I feel much more like I know what’s going on with my golf game at a much earlier time in the season. I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well now for a solid month.”

Anderson will resume his schedule Monday at the 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifier at The Ledges Golf Club in York with hopes of advancing to that prestigious tournament, Aug. 12-18 at Pinehurst, North Carolina, for the second time in three years.

He also will head south for the Southern Amateur Golf Championship in Little Rock, Arkansas, July 17-20 and the Palmetto Amateur tournament in Aiken, South Carolina, July 24-27.

That will be followed by a return to Maine before he heads back to Florida State.

“It’s going to be a lot easier when I get there next month because I’ve already gone through that freshman adjustment period where it’s sort of a new lifestyle,” Anderson said.

“Hopefully I’ll be playing well enough to make the lineup and play in some events.”

The primary college golf season for Anderson comes in the spring, when FSU competes for the ACC title and seeks to qualify for the NCAA Division I championships.

“I think the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 are the three most competitive conferences in terms of really high-level players who will go on to play on tour,” Anderson said. “But having been there with my team last spring I’m pretty comfortable with the level of competition.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...