Golf was once just a lifelong hobby for Leah Anderson. Now is the ticket to his future.

Anderson is a senior at North Oconee High School. She has played with the North Oconee Women’s Golf Program since its freshman year, helping the Lady Titans win the 2021 Class AAAA State Championship.

And in December, she locked down her plans to continue playing golf after high school.

Anderson signed on to accept a scholarship from Shorter University.

The move came a few years after Anderson was convinced to take the sport more seriously after competing in different sports earlier. Anderson said the North Oconee team gave him the camaraderie he lacked in his previous golf experiences.

“I played there when I was little with my grandfather,” Anderson said. “I kind of grew up knowing the sport. I always had a good time on the course but I also loved the team aspect of any sport. that until I started high school. Once I got on a team with all these girls, it gave me exactly what I wanted, knowing that I had a team, I had people to support me. That’s when I fell in love with it and knew it was a sport I wanted to play.

Anderson made his decision official at a signing ceremony held Dec. 15 inside the North Oconee Sports Complex.

She was joined by a large group of family and friends. Anderson said it meant a lot to have them there to support her on her big day.

“It was great,” she said. “There’s a family here that I haven’t seen in a while. Just knowing that they came here to see this is a very rewarding experience.

Anderson’s high school coach, Rob Melton, was also present at the event.

Melton addressed the crowd gathered for the event and noted how Anderson helped the team win last year’s state crown. He also said that Anderson, like most freshmen, was an unknown commodity when she first joined the team.

But Melton said it didn’t take long for Anderson to make her mark on the program and become one of its best golfers. Melton said Anderson’s weightlifting work was a big reason for his improvements.

“Leah got into the weight room in her freshman year and really started changing her body,” Melton said. “She’s gotten a lot stronger, a lot more flexible, and I really think that’s what helped her take her biggest leap from her freshman year to now.”

The recruiting process saw Anderson attract the attention of several different programs thanks to his success with the Lady Titans.

Once Shorter came to call, however, she knew that was her main destination.

“I kind of cut short my recruiting process once I got an offer from Shorter University because I fell in love with the team there, the coach, the system and the school all around,” Anderson said.

For Anderson, the recruiting process was often a stressful time. Because she didn’t seriously consider pursuing a golf scholarship until her freshman year, Anderson sometimes felt she was behind.

It was then that his relatives stepped in to offer their support.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me get here,” Anderson said. “If I’m being completely honest, without everyone’s help, I couldn’t have done the recruitment process. It was sometimes very stressful. I always thought I was never going to be able to make it and that I started too late in the game. So, I’m really grateful to everyone who helped me get here. I’m really excited. I’m really proud that I continued to pursue this because there were many times when I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it.

Anderson said she plans to major in biology once she comes to Shorter.

She is already making other plans for the future: she wants to go back to school once she finishes her stay there to study forensic medicine or marine biology.

No matter what the future holds, however, Anderson said she’s happy with the program she and her teammates have helped establish at North Oconee.

She is fast approaching her final campaign as Lady Titan. But Anderson said she expects great things from the program even after graduating.

“We lost five girls last year,” Anderson said, highlighting doubts the program could successfully track her state title from 2021. “Everyone was so worried we’d lose a lot of our strength , but our upcoming young girls are just as strong and hardworking as the girls who left. I think we’ve got a great line-up this year. I think we’re looking good. I’m excited to see what we can still doing this year, and I think even after we’re gone, our team will still be strong here in North Oconee for years to come.