Amy Anderson, Small town hero sets sights on the big stage

December 3 2013, Katie Ann Robinson

The first time Amy Anderson’s name was associated with the LPGA Tour was when she was awarded the 2012 Dinah Shore Trophy Award, which recognizes a female collegiate athlete who excels in academics and athletics. But to say she has excelled in both would actually be an understatement, as Amy is quite the overachiever.

Amy and her brother Nathan, who is 19 months older, grew up in the small town of Oxbow, N.D. where they were homeschooled by their parents. While Nathan started schooling before Amy, she would listen in on his lessons and before she started kindergarten, she could read an entire book. Her parents then moved her up to Nathan’s grade, which put her on track to graduate high school by the time she turned 16.

“I just, for some reason, kept up with him and there was no point in holding me back if I understood it,” said Amy. “So I graduated high school when I was 16, which I absolutely loved because I kind of felt like I was getting a head start.”

But when it came to golf, she didn’t get quite get the same head start. It took Amy a while to become interested in the sport. Still with the Oxbow Country Club in her backyard, Amy couldn’t stay away from the sport for too long and once she picked up a club, she pushed herself to excel. 

“I didn’t really like golf right away,” said Amy. “It wasn’t until I was 8 or so that I started liking it. I would just kind of go along for the snacks and pick some dandelions. But I think after a while I just got a little competitive. I wanted to beat my brother and I was like, and thought if I can put as much time into practicing as he had then I could be right up there with him.

“My dad found a junior tournament that summer, so a month before I just went and hit as many balls as I could every day because it’s a lot easier to have something to work towards. It just clicked for some reason, once you put the competition into it. I ended up winning my first tournament and ever since then that’s all I would think about is golf during the summer.”

Amy quickly became a child golf prodigy, winning multiple city, state and high school events. Just after graduating high school, she won the 2009 U.S. Junior Girls Amateur Championship in just her second national golf event.

While the win may have come too late for many colleges to recruit Amy, North Dakota State University recognized the local talent and convinced her to join the Bison roster.

“I definitely got some national attention from bigger schools and stuff but I didn’t really look into it at all because I knew I wanted to stay close to home mostly because of my family and graduating at 16,” said Amy. “The second reason was because my swing coach who I had been practicing with, at the time, for 4 or 5 years. I just wanted to stay close to him and engrave the fundamentals and not go 1,000 miles away and work with someone who would probably try to change my swing. I just wanted to stay close for those two reasons.”

While NSDU isn’t quite the biggest powerhouse when it comes to women’s golf, Amy put her team on the radar when she amassed 20 collegiate titles during her four-year career. She broke LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster’s previous record of 17 victories while a member of the San Jose State University golf team.

“I didn’t even have that on my radar and I wasn’t looking to pass that,” said Amy. “It was just one of those things that just kind of happened. It is so exciting because, you know, she is a legend of the game. If I could have a career that’s one-fourth as successful as hers, it would be a dream come true basically. Juli is definitely someone I look up to, and to be in the same record and break the record she held is pretty special.”   

Fresh out of college with a degree in accounting and currently studying for her CPA certification, Amy is set to play this week at LPGA International for the LPGA’s Final Qualifying Tournament. Having won the Stage II LPGA Qualifying Tournament in Venice, Fla., Amy enters the week with a rather relaxed approach.

“I’m excited and a little nervous,” said Amy. “Golf is just so up and down. Obviously, at second stage I was playing really well and that was really fun. Then you have those weeks where you struggle and it’s just really frustrating. But that’s just part of golf and part of the journey and there’s nothing you can do about that. I’m just excited to get started.

“I feel like there’s less pressure at this stage because no matter how you do, you have a place to play and you know somewhat what you are going to be doing next year. So I feel like some of the pressure is off because I’ve already made it this far.”

Amy says her unwavering faith has been the foundation of her golf pursuits, and the reason she made it from being a small town hero to competing for a chance to earn LPGA or Symetra Tour status for the 2014 season.  

“For me, my faith and honoring the Lord when I’m on the golf course or when I’m at home or wherever I am, that’s my ultimate purpose is to honor and glorify God and to show his love to other people,” said Amy. “That’s why I’m out here. I feel like God puts us in certain places to show His love to people around us, so if he wants me to do that on the LPGA or the Symetra Tour that’s kind of why I play.”

Topics: LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Player Feature

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