Cole Miller — he chose golf

June 8, 2018

Karl Gilbert

Golf Shots

Cole Miller has come a long way from his golf tournament debut at the age of 9 in June of 2005 in a Lehigh Valley Junior Golf Tour event at Green Pond Country Club.

This week, the 22-year-old Lynn Township resident is enjoying a big launch to his professional golf career.

The former Northwestern Lehigh (2014) and Penn State (2018) golfer made the cut today (Friday) in his professional debut at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada  Bayview Place DC Bank Open, at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia.

Monday — in his last tournament as an amateur — Miller successfully qualified for the 118th U.S. Open at a sectional qualifier held at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland. Miller will begin his first round next Thursday at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York.

So what was Miller’s early introduction to junior tournament golf like?

As the director of the Lehigh Valley Junior Golf Tour, my first impressions of Cole was as a quiet, short, but broad-shouldered youngster.

His father Carl said twice by the putting green, “I just want him to have fun.”

Carl also mentioned that soccer and wrestling were Cole’s main sports. Golf was for fun.

After reassuring his father that we shared the same goal of having fun with golf, I monitored Cole’s group for their 9-hole competition.

Cole played well that day.  One could readily see his powerful release through the ball, and general golf talent.

However, his golf game is not what stood out the most.

One item did pop out: Cole had exceptional athletic ability for a young man. His sense of balance, wiry strength, and powerful legs stood out.

When the round ended, his father asked “How did it go?”

I said to Carl “Good. He has talent. This is something he should be doing.”

But because I cannot assume the role of a parent to someone else’s child, my real thoughts were quite different. I wanted to say “Cole is an athlete. With that kind of athletic talent, I hope he plays golf.”

Over the next few years, Cole steadily improved.

By the time he was 13 years-old, Cole had won several 12-13 years-old division golf tournaments with impressive scores.

Thus, the time was coming for Cole to make a decision: to play golf or soccer in the fall of 2010 when he got to high school.

In the early summer of 2009 following Cole’s seventh grade year, Cole was competing at a junior tour event at The Bethlehem Golf Club.

Carl was standing in back of the left greenside bunker by the 18th green.

Knowing his son had talent and interest in golf, Carl said to me “We have a big decision coming up.”

Sensing what he was talking about, I replied “He has already made that decision. You just don’t know it yet.”‘

I knew Cole was going to choose golf. He loved the game, and the talented youngsters he competed against.

Indeed, a total of eight future Division 1 golfers (Cole Miller, Kyle Wambold, Evan Notaro, Chad Hess, Grant Schumaker, Eamon Marone, Samantha Wagner, Gabrielle Weiss), and at least 15 future college golfers overall started with the Lehigh Valley Junior Golf Tour around the mid-to-late 2000’s.

Cole loves competition, and this group energized him to practice, play, and improve.

The next year, prior to Cole entering high school — at the same golf course and setting — Carl asked me “How did you know Cole was going to choose golf?”

I told him “The kids. Cole loves playing against these kids.”

When Cole finished his round, I spoke to Cole by his father. “I told your dad you choose golf because you love competing against these guys.”

Cole eyes lit up. Not only did he confirm my answer, he proceeded to name many of the youngsters he was playing against.

Fast forward to the 2017 Lehigh Valley Golf Hall of Fame induction dinner.

On behalf of his son, Cole’s father accepted his son’s fifth Lehigh Valley Player of the Year award.

As he left the stage, Carl quipped back at me ‘You stole Cole from soccer.”

But we both know the truth. Cole loves golf, has fun playing golf, and loves to compete.  That has not changed.


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