Camden’s Cole Anderson, 21, tied for third in the Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club over the weekend, beating out 149 of 154 professional golfers in the tournament. Anderson plays collegiately at Florida State University. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Mark Plummer is the most decorated golfer in Maine history. He’s won a record 13 Maine Amateur championships. He battled Tiger Woods in the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur championship in 1995. He’s seen it all. But he’s never seen anything like what Cole Anderson and Caleb Manuel have been doing.

“Oh absolutely, no question about it,” said Plummer, 70. “It’s remarkable, absolutely remarkable. We’ve never had that.”

Anderson, a 21-year-old amateur golfer from Camden, is coming off of a stunning performance over the weekend in the Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club. The Open is part of the Korn Ferry Tour, the tier of professional golf directly below the PGA Tour, golf’s highest level. Playing in a professional tournament for the first time, Anderson led through three rounds and finished in a tie for third, beating 149 of 154 pros. Had he been a pro himself, he would have collected $26,625 in prize money.

This came one week after Manuel, a 20-year-old from Topsham, played in the U.S. Open, one of golf’s four major championships and arguably the most prestigious event in the sport. Manuel got to the U.S. Open by winning a qualifying event in New York, beating an 86-player field made up of pros and some of the best amateurs in the country. He became just the third golfer from Maine to ever qualify for the U.S. Open.

Only four years ago, Anderson and Manuel were playing at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro, dueling each other for a high school championship. Now they’re on the verge of playing professionally, and perhaps even making themselves household names.

“When I was playing Tiger, I was 43,” Plummer said. “We’ve never had anybody who was that good, at that age.”


Maine has produced professional golfers. There have even been some nationally regarded talents; Plummer and Sean Gorgone, who qualified for the 1991 U.S. Open, come to mind. So does Shawn Warren, the Falmouth Country Club pro who has played in majors himself with three PGA Championship appearances.

But two players, both still in college – Anderson at Florida State University, Manuel at the University of Connecticut – showing that they can beat professionals at the national level puts them into uncharted waters.

“We’ve had exceptional players in the past, but these gentlemen are taking it to a new level,” said Brian Bickford, executive director of the Maine State Golf Association. “There are some golf pros that have had success in the past, whether it’s been the U.S. Senior Open or something like that, but we’re talking like 70 years ago. In the modern era, these guys are just phenomenal in their ability to play at such a high level.”

Cole Anderson of Camden Hills High School, right, congratulates Mt. Ararat’s Caleb Manuel following his victory at the Class A high school state championships in October 2018. John Ewing/Portland Press Herald, file

Anderson and Manuel are beneficiaries, in part, of greater opportunities for young golfers in Maine. There has been a push from the MSGA to increase the number of local tournaments, particularly at the junior level. And regional and national programs like the New England PGA Junior Tour, which was founded in 1995, and U.S. Kids Golf, founded in 1996, have helped mold players at a younger-than-ever age.

“When I played junior golf, we had one junior tournament a year,” Plummer said. “That was it.”



Bickford said he’s seen more and more players take advantage of opportunities to get out and compete.

“What used to be playing with the members at the club is now playing with other juniors around New England or beyond,” he said.

However, it’s the talent that Anderson and Manuel possess that has set them apart.

“I’m not sure if we’ve had two players playing (NCAA) Division I golf at the same time,” Warren said. “Having two of them not only playing at that level, but also being able to perform well during the summertime, whether it’s on the professional or amateur (level), I would definitely think it’s a very rare time.”

Topsham’s Caleb Manuel hits on the fourth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., on June 16. Only two other Maine golfers have ever qualified for the major tournament. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Anderson showcased that talent in front of crowds numbering into the hundreds that came out to follow him around Falmouth Country Club. In golf, the best indication of ball striking is greens in regulation, which measures how often a player gets on the green in enough strokes to have a birdie putt. Over the four rounds of the Live and Work in Maine Open, no golfer hit more greens in regulation than Anderson. Over four days, only eight of the 154 aspiring PGA Tour professionals averaged longer drives off the tee.

“At some point in his young life, this step needed to happen,” said Alex Plummer, Anderson’s caddie for the week and the head pro at Goose River Golf Course in Rockport. “This is just the beginning for him. … He is on his way to really, really big things.”


Anderson and Manuel both are determined to play professional golf eventually. Both players in the past few weeks have provided proof that those days are not far away.

“It’s just a matter of time when he decides to pull the trigger,” Alex Plummer said. “That’s his lifelong goal. He will fulfill that goal.”


Neither Anderson nor Manuel has given the impression that they’re trying to rush. Their plans for the summer are up in the air. Manuel knows he’ll play in the Maine Amateur Championship in July, while Anderson said he is planning to go to Colorado for the next Korn Ferry Tour event after qualifying with his finish Sunday.

The plan, he said, is to remain an amateur.

“It’s such a complicated process in terms of scenarios,” Anderson said. “I’m going to need somebody to probably lay out all those scenarios for me, and we’ll kind of look at it together. … If I spend a lot of time worrying about that stuff, it’ll be pretty hard to play good golf. I’m just going to try to play as well as I can in whatever event I’m playing, and when somebody tells me I need to turn pro, I’ll do it.”

Maine, meanwhile, will wait for the announcement, as well as from Manuel. Probably more than it has for any other players.

“You shoot a 74 in a U.S. Open at The Country Club (like Manuel did)? You finish in the top three at a professional event (like Anderson did)? You’ve got something,” said Portland Country Club professional Dan Venezio. “When you have that potential, you’ve got to go out and try to realize those dreams. And those dreams are collecting some steam right now.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.