This past fall, Northwestern junior Cole Miller was busy putting in work on numerous golf courses throughout the Lehigh Valley, consistently shooting rounds in the 60s, earning medalist honors in dual matches, setting course records and qualifying for districts, regionals and eventually the PIAA State tournament.
At the completion of his junior year, he finished in second place at the two-day state championship tourney at Heritage Hills in York, and at the same time, put an end to an impressive scholastic golf season.
There was only one round throughout the regular season of Northwestern's golf schedule that Miller did not shoot in the 60s (he shot a 70), and he finished second at the District 11 tournament, placed at Regionals to move on to the State tournament, where he turned in his runner-up finish. He also set the course record at Olde Homestead during a dual match against Southern Lehigh, when he fired a 63 over those 18 holes.
For all of these accomplishments, Miller repeats as the TIMES NEWS Golfer of the Year.
"I've put in a lot of work over the years," Miller said. "To have this honor is really nice."
Looking back on the course of the past year, the student-athlete recognized the work ethic needed in order to excel and attain these personal goals.
"In the summer, I'm out at the driving range at least twice a day," he mentioned. "In the morning, I'll hit a large bucket, and then another one at night with some different shots. I'd usually play a round in between too."
His father, Carl, has provided him not only with the love of the game, but helped him with his workout regimen.
"In the winter, my dad puts together a workout that we used to do for when I was a wrestler," he said. "It's mostly cardio and a little bit of lifting, but it keeps me in shape in the colder months."
When head golf coach Tim Miller and the Tiger team needed Cole for some key production, the younger Miller knew what he had to do.
"To show what kind of a competitor he is, he shot a 63 against Southern Lehigh, which is a perennial power in the Colonial League," Tim Miller said. "That is the course record at Olde Homestead, now, too."
Cole remembers the day pretty vividly, as well.
"I had a hot start," he said. "I started birdie, birdie, par, birdie. After that, I just stayed with it and everything was working. The putter was solid with short putts, and my wedge was really solid all day."
The coach knows how advantageous it is to have the junior on his roster.
"He has the skill needed to play the game, and he also has the mentality," coach Miller said. "Many people come up to me to congratulate me on Cole's accomplishments. They say what a good job I'm doing with him, but the truth is that I pretty much just stay out of his way."
The only things that stood in Cole's way this past season were challenges and the 2011 TN Golfer of the Year welcomed them all.
At the District 11 tournament, he shot even par in 27 holes.
"I was two under after the first 18 and then two over on the last nine," Cole said. "After finishing in a tie, I lost on the third hole of a playoff."
At Regionals, the pattern was similar, even though the ultimate goal of the tourney was eventually met, as he qualified for the next event.
"I played pretty well to start, and then faded out in the late stages," he said. "I think I shot a 77 on a cold and windy day, so the conditions were really tough to deal with."
At Heritage Hills, Miller had a stellar first day, as he was tied for the lead with a one-over round of 73. However, on the second day, a 75 resulted in a second-place finish.
"It's a nice feeling (to take second in the PIAA), but don't get me wrong ... first would have been nice. It was tough after being tied after the first day, but taking second, that was nice for me."
As a leader on the Tigers' squad, Miller excels as well.
"I'm so impressed with the way he helps his teammates each day," coach Miller said. "He'll treat a kid that's struggling to break 100 the same way he'd treat a guy that he's at the same level with. His integrity and sportsmanship are outstanding."
Naturally, the competition is a big draw for the youngster, but the other aspects of the game are more appealing to him.
"I love the outdoors part of the game of golf. I think the peace you get is just amazing," he said. "The views you see as you play along, if you can soak it all up and still be competitive, it just makes it that much better of a sport.
"Also, the mental part of it sets you up for so many other areas of life," he continued. "When I'm golfing, I am myself, and my personality comes out in my game. That's the part I love about the game. It allows me to be me."
So what's next for the Northwestern golfer?
With Miller's ability, hard work ethic and drive, many can expect to see him adding more accolades to his already impressive record.