Suffolk golfer becomes a Spider golfer

Published 9:49 pm Saturday, December 17, 2011

John David Sanderson goes from hitting pinpoint 7-irons to making baskets in the low post without a problem.

This weekend, Sanderson, a senior at Summit Christian in Yorktown and a member at Cedar Point Country Club in North Suffolk, is playing in a golf tournament drawing many of Virginia’s elite young golfers at two top-caliber courses in Richmond.

On Monday evening, he’ll be back on the hardwood as the starting center for the Eagles at a tournament at Portsmouth Christian.

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That sort of schedule is par for the course for Sanderson. He’ll keep balancing academics and sports for the next four years, as he’s accepted an athletic scholarship to play golf at the University of Richmond.

“I first started looking at Richmond a few years ago. My dad went to law school there,” Sanderson said.

“It’s beautiful and it’s a great campus. It’s a small environment and that’s where I come from. That’s what I’m used to,” Sanderson said.

Much more recently, Sanderson visited the university along with the Spider golf team. Richmond was always atop Sanderson’s list of schools, but the addition of playing collegiate golf sealed it.

“The guys (on the golf team) were really nice, really welcoming, and the coach is the same way, and very outgoing. It seems like the perfect place,” he said.

The rigors of high academic expectations plus playing Div. I golf in the fall and spring will be quite the crowded calendar. Sanderson plans on majoring in business and pursuing an MBA degree down the road.

His older brother, Tyler, plays golf at Centre College in Kentucky. John David knows he can draw on his brother’s knowledge and experience about balancing the driving range with college courses.

“Travel for golf is usually three or four days a week,” Sanderson said. “It’ll be tough to manage golf and school. I’ve got to have my priorities straight going in.”

Sanderson made the final 16 in the Virginia State Amateur Championship and the VSGA Junior Match Play Championship this past summer.

In the fall, he played for Virginia in junior matches, one against a West Virginia/Maryland team and one versus North Carolina/South Carolina.

“That was something I was really hoping to do,” said Sanderson about making the Virginia team. “Making those teams really meant a lot.”

Normally the winter is for hoops and taking at least a bit of a break from the links.

“It’s good to be well-rounded, plus basketball gets me in good shape for golf,” he said.

This tournament this weekend in Richmond was too good to pass up, though, said Sanderson.

A field of high school and college golfers is playing in a newly-formed tournament mirroring a Ryder Cup format at Stonehenge and Independence golf clubs.

“(The golf tournament) will be all really solid players, so it should be a lot of fun,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson already has lots of experience playing tough courses around Virginia and testing himself versus elite competition. Given how much golf he’ll be playing in Richmond for the next four years, it’s fitting for Sanderson to wedge a couple rounds into the middle of basketball season.