INDEPENDENCE — Making it to the state golf tournament wasn’t something Andrew Love ever anticipated throughout his years on Central High School’s golf team.
Until he scored an 82 and a 79 the second day of this year’s regionals.
“I just went out there relaxed and had some fun and it worked out,” Love said.
Golf has been a huge part of Love’s life since his freshman year, when he began seriously competing. Before that, he dabbled in it with his grandpa at Willow Lake Golf Center in Keizer.
In league this season, he never scored over 90, scoring 86 at Trysting Tree, an 85 at Mallard, a 90 at Spring Hill, 84 at Cross Creek, and an 88 at OGA.
“Andrew has been our top golfer in the two years I’ve been here,” head coach Joel Everett said in an email. “He played more golf outside the season than anyone else on the team, and really put in the work to earn the success that he had. Being the only senior on the team, the rest of the team looked at him as a model for what they should be doing. Andrew wasn’t the most vocal leader but chose to lead by example on how he went about practice. He was always concentrated on a certain aspect of his game (putting, chipping, wedges, driver etc.), and didn’t stop practicing until he was satisfied with the results. He has set the bar for our golfers to aim for next season.”
Having fun during the regional tournament seemed to work well for him, but making such good marks came as something of a shock to Love.
“I was kinda surprised,” he said. “I mean, I knew I played really well, and the guys I was playing with were gonna go to state, so that second day I was kind of expecting it towards the end. So it was kind of a relief.”
The top 10 individuals with the highest scores went on to the state tournament. Love was the 10th guy.
“There were three strokes separating me from 11th place,” he said.
The two-day event was held May 11 and 12 at Emerald Valley in Creswell, just outside of Eugene.
Love found that the competition at the state level wasn’t much different than that of a regionals tournament.
The course, however, was a different story.
“The course was set up to be probably the hardest golf course I’ve ever played,” Love said. “The greens were rolling really fast, really firm, and there were some really picky pin placements. It was set up as hard as it could have been. It wouldn’t have been like that if it wasn’t state.”
With just a few weeks left of his senior year, Love said he carried no expectations with him onto the green that first day of the tournament.
“I felt relaxed,” he said. “Obviously there’s nothing more that could come out of it, so I just tried to enjoy it.”
He ended his high school career by shooting 92, and 91, respectively.
“It was pretty bad as far as my scoring this season, but I feel comfortable putting that on the conditions.”
Leaving behind a team you’ve been a part of for so long can leave a sour taste in your mouth, but Love is ready to begin the next phase of his life — college at University of Washington, studying chemical engineering — but not without extending thanks to those who have helped shape his success as a Panther.
“Definitely Greg Smith,” he said, the professional coach he has worked with for the last few years at Willow Lake Golf Center. “Mr. Everett too,” he added, “Having somebody there who genuinely cares about the golf team, not expectation wise, just wanting what’s best for us, getting out there, the extra tournaments, that extra dedication; it just sets the tone for the rest the team. It made this last year much better than the rest.”
There was one other person Love mentioned who helped him make it to where he is today.
“My coach, Jim Vanderfeen, who passed away after my sophomore year, he always told me, ‘you’re gonna go to state, senior year, senior year,’ and I wasn’t expecting it, so being able to pull that 82 and 79 was pretty cool. It was pretty special.”