University of Wisconsin junior Sam Anderson soared up the men’s golf all-time record list in the fall, but ran into some struggles in the spring before the NCAA canceled the remainder of the season.
The 2017 Stoughton High School graduate led the Badgers with a 72.55 average in the fall, the second-lowest 18-hole average in program history.
He wrapped up a career-low 36-hole score of 139 at the Badger Invitational on Sept. 10, 2019, and the White Sands Intercollegiate a little less than two months later at the Ocean Club Golf Course in Nassau, Bahamas. The score tied him for 17th in program history.
Anderson finished ninth at the Badger Invitational with a 54-hole score of 210, and took second at the Musketeer Classic on Oct. 22 in Cincinnati, Ohio – matching his career-best 54-hole score to tie for 15th all-time in program history. He posted seven rounds under par in the fall.
“I had a really good fall and the main thing coming back (in the spring) was knocking the rust off,” he said.
Anderson got off to a rocky start this spring, going 1-2-1 in a Big Ten Match Play tournament at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida. He then shot a 21-over-par 237 at the General James Hackler College Championship at the Dunes Golf Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“I tried to forget about that,” he said. “I drove the ball terribly and my short game was not very sharp.”
Anderson and his teammates were informed on March 12 of the NCAA’s decision to cancel the remainder of the spring sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a big shock because everything happened so quickly,” he said. “The most difficult aspect of the spring was the reality I didn’t play as well as I could.”
Anderson quickly made the decision to head to Florida for seven weeks to iron out his swing. He played 18 to 36 holes per day since golf courses were still open with many of the same safety measures Wisconsin has now adopted.
“I just wanted to stay as competitive as I can,” he said. “I knew it would take some dedication and hard work.”
Anderson consulted his swing coach in Georgia. Through Zoom, his coaches have been able to give him drills to improve his swing.
The Stoughton native moved back to Wisconsin and has been playing 18 to 36 holes a day at University Ridge Golf Course after the course reopened.
A communications major at UW with one more season of eligibility, Anderson plans to play in as many tournaments as he can this summer. He tied for fourth in last year’s Wisconsin State Amateur Championship at Lawsonia Links in Green Lake.
“I’m going to have to manage my expectations after not having competed for so long,” he said. “I just want to get my reps on the golf course and enjoy the game as much as I can.”