Many top college golfers make no bones about the fact that they're just passing through, living up to their "PIT" designation: Pros In Training. Mark Anderson, though, was different while playing at the University of South Carolina - and afterward.
The Beaufort native, now in his second season on the Nationwide Tour, was in no big hurry, earning All-American honors as a freshman in 2005 and again as a senior in 2008. He also earned a degree in business management from USC's prestigious business school in 2008.
And then he turned pro? Well, not exactly.
Anderson had always dreamed of playing on the U.S. Walker Cup team, but the biennial competition between amateurs from the U.S. and Great Britain/Ireland was a year away. So the former Gamecock decided to wait, playing a demanding amateur schedule in 2008-09. In January 2009, he won the NEC Master of Amateurs Championship in Australia, which he still calls "my biggest thrill in golf."
Ultimately, Anderson was passed over for the Walker Cup (a controversial omission) and turned professional in the fall of 2009. Since, he's won more than $167,000 on the Nationwide Tour, and in May he ranked 27th on the 2011 money list with more than $49,000; the top 25 at year's end earn promotion to the PGA Tour.
The lanky blond remains not the tour-player norm. He always has "a good book" with him when he travels, listing the hefty "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett as his favorite. His "bucket list:" learning to play guitar, traveling the world in a boat and learning to fly.
Eventually, Anderson might throw a few PGA Tour titles in there, too.
Bio: Two-time All-American at South Carolina, 2005 SEC Freshman of the Year and 2008 All-American Scholar; earned Nationwide Tour status at the 2009 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament; finished 60th in 2010 to retain exemption for 2011.
Highlights: Helped lead USC to first-place finish in NCAA West Regional in 2007 and 11th-place finish in NCAA Championship; won the 2009 NEC Masters of Amateurs in Australia, defeating future PGA Tour rookie sensation Rickie Fowler in the final round.
Where I play: "I'm pretty biased to the lowcountry, so I've got to go with Secession Golf Club, my home course, which is a pretty special place. I've always loved the Colleton River Dye Course because it suits my eye, and I love the Country Club of Charleston, an awesome place.
"In the Upstate, I like Thornblade, which is a lot of fun, you can make a ton of birdies and it's always in good shape. Harbour Town is the best resort course I've played, and the Ocean Course at Kiawah is fun but it's hard; bring a lot of golf balls. One of my favorites, too, is Parris Island on the (U.S.) Marines base. They've got a great course, it's inexpensive, always in good shape and a really tough layout from the back tees."
Where I eat: "When I'm in Columbia for eating or just hanging out, I like the Flying Saucer, a cool little pub/bar. For more of a dinner, anywhere in The Vista is good. I love going to Charleston, eating at the seafood restaurants downtown. And Greenville is one of my favorite cities to hang out. The downtown has so much to offer. When I'm home in Beaufort, my favorite place is Alvin Ord's; they have the best sandwich you'll ever get there."
What I do for fun: "I like to fish, mostly saltwater, off-shore or in the Intracoastal Waterway. I just like to get out on the water. I also like to work out; I run a lot, and I've gotten in biking, my new hobby. I like being outside, something active: on the beach, walking, playing bocce ball. It's all cool."