Switch From Slopes to Course Right Move for Anderson October 10, 2017 | Atlanta, Ga. By Stuart Hall

The physical toll of ski racing led Scott Anderson to competitive golf, where he has excelled since his high school days in Montana. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Having been a competitive skier, Fred Anderson was well versed on the physical toll the sport could inflict on a body.

“Our family was 12 knee surgeries deep and he had not had any yet,” said Anderson of the skiing-related procedures that he, his wife Kim, also a former ski racer, and daughter Kylie had combined to undergo, and son Scott had avoided.

The elder Anderson attended the University of Utah on a scholarship. He competed as a skier at the collegiate and national level with the glimmer of making the USA Olympic Team, “but I realized that I had better keep going to school.”

The Andersons lived in Great Falls, Mont., with the thought that the children might also grow into competitive skiers, “but I saw [Scott’s] golf swing when he was 6 or 7 and lower mechanics in golf and ski racing are real similar,” the elder Anderson said. “At age 15, because I had been personally beat up so bad from ski racing, I made him quit and concentrate on golf.”

Scott Anderson, who now resides in Columbus, Ohio, said the choice was his, but has no qualms with who takes the credit or the path the decision led him on.

“You can ski competitively to about age 30,” said the 35-year-old, admitting that skiing remains his first love, “but golf you can play for as long as you are capable.”

Anderson has shown off his competitive golf chops this week in the 37th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. On Monday at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course, he posted a 3-under-par 67, and finished the stroke-play portion of the competition at 4-under 137 to share second, one stroke behind medalist Bradford Tilley.

Anderson enters the 64-player match play bracket as the No. 3 seed (his opponent will come from Tuesday morning's 25-for-16 playoff), seeking to improve upon his only other USGA championship appearance, a missed cut in the 2001 U.S. Amateur at nearby East Lake Golf Club.

Anderson says his golf journey has come full circle since that time.

Around 1998, longtime Ohio State University coach Jim Brown was attending a national coaching clinic in White Fish, Mont. He knew of Anderson and played on the same course Anderson had won high school tournaments on. Washington and Minnesota were also recruiting Anderson, but he wanted to go somewhere south.

“So [Brown’s] story was ‘Look guys, I have a guy who is valedictorian, so he’s smart; thinks Ohio will be south; and I’ve played the course where I know he’s scored on. Let’s call him,’” said Fred Anderson.

Columbus it was.

“You have to go where you’re the most comfortable and I’ve never seen a closer golf team than we had at Ohio State,” said Scott Anderson, who helped the Buckeyes win the 2004 Big Ten title, earned first team all-Big Ten honors the following season and also served as captain.

From there he moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., and turned professional, competing predominantly on the Gateway Tour. But he could never advance past the second stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying School.

By 29, life’s priorities were shifting. He was married and ready to start a family. A decision, not unlike the one he made to focus on golf nearly 15 years earlier, needed to be made.

“I was ready to make it,” he said. “I knew in the back of my mind that I would give myself five shots [at Q-School] and if I didn’t get past that then I was ready to [say] it may not be your time. Golf is not the only thing going on in our life.”

His new career was in the medical device industry. He eventually applied and received his amateur reinstatement. A few years ago, wanting “to get a foot back in the door,” he joined a fledgling golf-club fitting company, where he manages the company’s fitters throughout the Midwest.

“We have been pretty busy getting the company off the ground, but now the golf game can take over a little bit,” said Anderson, who began to dabble in competitive golf again. Twelve years after winning the Montana State Amateur, Anderson won the 2016 Ohio Mid-Amateur.

Anderson credits his role as a master club fitter as having “reinvigorated” his game.

“It opened my eyes,” he said. “You’re watching them and seeing them hit shots, and you’re trying to get them to hit perfect shots. You realize a lot of people don’t do that on a daily basis. So just go play golf; you’re going to hit some bad ones out there, but you’re also going to have some good shots that happen. So how do you balance all of that? It’s really brought me full circle.”

Like many in the 264-player field, Anderson’s primary goal was to qualify for match play. With that checked off, Anderson is anxious to see how deep of a run he can make.

“Guys out here have jobs and families, and they have a lot of distractions that they have to play through on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s kind of fun to have to deal with all that and make sure you come out playing good golf on the back end.”

Especially if the back end means a spot in Friday’s 36-hole final.

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.


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