For Kevin Anderson, head golf professional at Apple Tree Golf Course, golf has and always will be a large part of his life.
“Golf to me is more than just a game. It is a part of me and it has made me the man that I am today,” he said.
Growing up in Redding, Calif., across the street from the nine-hole golf course that his family owned, Kevin never knew a life without golf.
“When being taught how to play this game as a kid by my dad, uncle and cousin, I learned more than just how to play the game. I was taught honor, integrity, being prompt and respectful to others, as well as empathy to help someone when they are in need,” he said.
When Kevin first started heading out on the course with his family at age 3, they only let him putt, and he got only two tries at each hole. Then, when he got good at that, they let him chip and putt. And from there, they began to move him back 25 yards, then 50 yards, then 100 yards from the green, until at age 6 he was playing from the same set of tees that his dad, uncle and cousin were.
At 19, Kevin attended the Golf Academy of America to earn his golf management degree. After graduating at the top of his class, he began looking for assistant golf professional positions available on the West Coast — and lo and behold, Apple Tree Golf Course was hiring. After knocking the interview out of the park, Kevin began his career at Apple Tree in May of 2009.
Good thing he made the move to Yakima, because in June 2010, Kevin met the love of his life, and now wife, Chanda.
“I went into the Apple Tree Pro Shop to look for a new golf shirt. He helped me find the one I was looking for and we have been pretty much inseparable since that day,” Chanda said.
Two years later, in June of 2012, the unexpected happened. The head golf professional at Apple Tree was resigning, and instead of hiring someone new, the management and ownership promoted Kevin to the position when he was just 24 years old. Kevin stepped into the role with poise and determination — and if there was anyone who thought he wasn’t ready for the responsibility, Kevin proved them wrong.
In 2015, Chanda and Kevin were married. They soon moved to Redding so that Kevin could be the head golf professional at the country club where he grew up playing. But just five months later, both Kevin and Chanda felt that it wasn’t the right fit for them, so they made the move back to Yakima — which felt like home.
Having left Apple Tree on good terms, Kevin was welcomed back with open arms. He said it’s a great job.
“I love instructing at Apple Tree.” he said. “Giving golf lessons to people of all ages, to men, women and children — it doesn’t matter! The exact moment that my students understand what I am trying to teach them by making a good swing and hitting a solid golf shot — that level of communication is so much fun. I get such joy seeing my students improve and I love seeing how excited they get as they progress.”
So it’s a good thing Kevin gets to teach a lot of lessons. In fact, the amount of lesson requests he receives has doubled since he came back to Yakima.
“Teaching is my favorite way to give back to the game that has given me everything I have in life,” Kevin said.
Another important milestone that Kevin hit was earning his PGA card in 2017, which certifies him as a PGA professional.
“Kevin worked incredibly hard to obtain his Class A PGA status, which includes three rigorous levels and a test per level,” Chanda said.
The next professional step for Kevin is to become a master PGA professional, one of the highest levels.
Kevin competes in the pro-am golf circuit in Central Washington as well as in U.S. Open Qualifiers and Pacific Northwest Section Tournaments. His family still supports him by coming to his events.
“Kevin’s parents sacrificed the most to help him follow his dreams. They’ve spent countless hours and dollars traveling so that he could compete in golf tournaments all over the country. Most recently, his dad and uncles traveled from their home states to watch him compete in a U.S. Open qualifier,” Chanda said.
When Kevin isn’t golfing or teaching, he’s spending time with his wife and family.
“I always look forward to spending time with my family whether its dinner on Friday nights, weekend trips up to White Pass in the winter, hunting in Idaho, clam digging in Washington, trips to Bend or California — it doesn’t matter. It’s all fun,” Kevin said.
And of course, Kevin and Chanda love golfing together, as well.
“We are both very competitive so when we do play against each other it can be quite comical,” Chanda said.
Kevin’s successes aren’t the most impressive things about him. It’s the genuine kindness that he exudes for everyone in his life — friend or stranger. It’s the smile that lights up his face when he talks about his family, and the credit he humbly gives to others for his successes.
“My wife has helped me tremendously in the nine years we have been together,” he said. “She always pushes me to be better at my job and encouraged me to get my PGA certification — but most importantly she pushes me to be a better man. I would not be where I am today without her love and support.”
One final thought about golf from Kevin:
“Golf is a game that will truly test you when you get backed into a corner and the only way out is to push forward,” he said. “The golf course is a place where you can lose yourself and find yourself, all in the same day.”