FORE July/August 2012 : Page 32

ON-THE-JOB TR Two accomplished collegians are venturing into the demanding world of professional golf. They share a singular goal: to make a living at this game they love. veryone has a dream, but how many of us actually seize the opportunity to follow it? For a variety of reasons – time, money, laziness, to name a few – the answer is probably not many. But Josh Anderson and Daniel Miernicki, former SCGA members who recently graduated from college, are embarking on a quest to make it as professional golfers. The SCGA will be tracking their progress – the highs, the lows and everything in between – in FORE magazine and online at scga.org/goingpro. E JOSH ANDERSON Pepperdine University As a youngster, Anderson didn’t daydream of being an astronaut or a fi refi ghter or a doctor. He always had the same aspiration: “It’s been my dream to play professional golf since I was a little boy,” he said. “I might as well give it a shot.” And, given his impressive career as an amateur and a collegian, it is likely Anderson’s dream may soon become a reality. At Pepperdine, he racked JOSH ANDERSON up several accolades, including four-time All-West Coast Conference fi rst team honors, a win at the NCAA West Regional earlier this year and an invitation to the NCAA Championships at Riviera Country Club. But it was his California Amateur Championship in 2007 that really set the table for his success. “That Cal Am win really gave me confi dence to compete at a high level,” said Anderson, who won the event as an 18-year-old at Monterey Peninsula CC. “It helped my game a lot and gave me belief that I could compete with anyone.” Anderson wasn’t competing with just anyone. He was high school teammates with Rickie Fowler, who at the time of Anderson’s California Amateur victory was ranked the No. 1 junior in the nation by Golfweek. Anderson spent some time in Fowler’s shadow at Murrieta High School, but since then has been blazing a path of his own. Now he will look to follow in the footsteps of his good friend on the PGA Tour. “[Fowler’s] success has given me the sense that I can play out there,” Anderson said. “I’ve been com-peting with him my whole life.” The support goes both ways. Just hours after Anderson’s NCAA West Regional victory in May, Fowler reached out via Twitter to congratulate his former teammate, a message that Fowler’s 350,000 followers saw crawl across their Twitter feed. But Anderson knows the road to a career in professional golf won’t be easy. He’s already been through ups and downs in his career – including a loss in the semifi nals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links, a “match I shouldn’t have lost.” He knows that, inevitably, there will be a few more of those in his future. “Just not being able to cut it, not making it on tour, that’s really my biggest fear,” he said. “Decid-ing to pursue this, travel around and try to make a SCGA.ORG 32 | FORE Magazine | JULY/AUGUST 2012 COURTESY OF PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY

Getting Paid to Play

ON-THE-JOB TRAINING<br /> <br /> Two accomplished collegians are venturing into the demanding world of professional golf. They share a singular goal: to make a living at this game they love.<br /> <br /> Everyone has a dream, but how many of us actually seize the opportunity to follow it? For a variety of reasons – time, money, laziness, to name a few – the answer is probably not many.<br /> <br /> But Josh Anderson and Daniel Miernicki, former SCGA members who recently graduated from college, are embarking on a quest to make it as professional golfers. The SCGA will be tracking their progress – the highs, the lows and everything in between – in FORE magazine and online at scga.org/goingpro.<br /> <br /> JOSH ANDERSON<br /> <br /> Pepperdine University<br /> <br /> As a youngster, Anderson didn’t daydream of being an astronaut or a firefighter or a doctor. He always had the same aspiration: “It’s been my dream to play professional golf since I was a little boy,” he said. “I might as well give it a shot.”<br /> <br /> And, given his impressive career as an amateur and a collegian, it is likely Anderson’s dream may soon become a reality. At Pepperdine, he racked up several accolades, including four-time All-West Coast Conference first team honors, a win at the NCAA West Regional earlier this year and an invitation to the NCAA Championships at Riviera Country Club. But it was his California Amateur Championship in 2007 that really set the table for his success.<br /> <br /> “That Cal Am win really gave me confidence to compete at a high level,” said Anderson, who won the event as an 18-year-old at Monterey Peninsula CC. “It helped my game a lot and gave me belief that I could compete with anyone.”<br /> <br /> Anderson wasn’t competing with just anyone. He was high school teammates with Rickie Fowler, who at the time of Anderson’s California Amateur victory was ranked the No. 1 junior in the nation by Golfweek. Anderson spent some time in Fowler’s shadow at Murrieta High School, but since then has been blazing a path of his own. Now he will look to follow in the footsteps of his good friend on the PGA Tour.<br /> <br /> “[Fowler’s] success has given me the sense that I can play out there,” Anderson said. “I’ve been competing with him my whole life.”<br /> <br /> The support goes both ways. Just hours after Anderson’s NCAA West Regional victory in May, Fowler reached out via Twitter to congratulate his former teammate, a message that Fowler’s 350,000 followers saw crawl across their Twitter feed.<br /> <br /> But Anderson knows the road to a career in professional golf won’t be easy. He’s already been through ups and downs in his career – including a loss in the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links, a “match I shouldn’t have lost.” He knows that, inevitably, there will be a few more of those in his future.<br /> <br /> “Just not being able to cut it, not making it on tour, that’s really my biggest fear,” he said. “Deciding to pursue this, travel around and try to make a living out of it, it’s a dream come true. But it’s also tough. It can be frustrating and expensive. You have to have some other people believe in you and back you. You can’t do it on your own.”<br /> <br /> One person whom Anderson surely has the support of is Pepperdine Coach John Geiberger, who has been coaching the Waves for 16 seasons. “Josh has a very solid game,” he said. “He kind of understands what it takes to play high-level professional golf. He’s one [example] where I fully support the idea of him going pro. I know he can be very successful at it.”<br /> <br /> Anderson plans to play as many Nationwide Tour events as he can this summer, while also trying to line up as many sponsors as possible to help cover expenses. His schedule will depend on the financial backing he secures, but he hopes to spend a lot of time on the course.<br /> <br /> DANIEL MIERNICKI<br /> <br /> University of Oregon<br /> <br /> Golf is a uniquely individual sport, but Miernicki nonetheless savored his four years at Oregon. “People like me, we come to college to play on a golf team,” he said.<br /> <br /> With that team-first attitude, it is no surprise that Miernicki’s ups and downs in college mirrored those of the Ducks. Oregon finished third at nationals his sophomore season, as Miernicki came into his own, garnering first-team All-Pac-10 honors in a season that culminated with his selection to the U.S. squad for the 2010 Palmer Cup.<br /> <br /> “It has always been a goal to pursue professional golf, but I probably didn’t know it was a reality until my sophomore year of college,” he said. “That’s when I knew I could probably play at a high level.”<br /> <br /> But he learned it wasn’t that easy. Miernicki didn’t enjoy the same level of success during his junior year, and neither did the Ducks, who failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships. “That would probably be the lowest point of my collegiate career,” he said. But this past season as a senior, Miernicki got back on track, and even gained an invitation to Bandon Dunes for the U.S. Public Links with teammate Andrew Vijarro. Each lost in the quarterfinals, but having that experience together in their final season as teammates is something that Miernicki won’t soon forget. “It was a great week,” he said. “One of the best in the last four years. But playing in the Pac-12 was an unbelievable experience. Playing with guys like Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams week after week, it’s probably similar to playing on the Nationwide Tour.”<br /> <br /> Miernicki hopes to play in some actual Nationwide events in the near future. He’s already received quite a bit of interest from sponsors, he said, and his dad has lined up some personal sponsors and club companies to help finance the first part of his journey.<br /> <br /> “Being able to say that golf is your job is pretty exciting,” he said. “Doing something you love and making a living at it? What’s better? Playing against the best players in the world is a dream. I’m ready to make it a reality.”<br /> <br /> Miernicki’s quest to play professional golf got off to a good start when he earned a spot in the Travelers Championship.<br /> <br /> Follow the progress of Anderson and Miernicki at scga.org/goingpro. <br />

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