Elite golfers spend countless hours around club putting greens and driving ranges. Thousands of small white spheres are hit out of sand traps. It’s not quite a 24-7 endeavor, but committing at least a few hours every day is vital if you want to compete with the best.

Constant sunshine is not required, just weather that doesn’t require mittens or, in Amy Anderson’s case, a snow shovel.

Anderson, who will be a junior this fall at North Dakota State, is among college golf’s top student-athletes. And she almost does it part time.

The playing conditions can be a bit extreme in North Dakota, especially from November to March and sometimes into April.

“Last year I shot 76-80 in my first tournament of the spring,” said Anderson. “I have to be patient because I know all the work I do inside isn’t the same as the conditions on the course. It’s tough sometimes. I know if I moved south my (scoring) average would go down but there was never a chance of me going someplace else.”

Growing up in Oxbow, N.D., Anderson was home-schooled. The family home was located on the Oxbow Country Club golf course so it was almost inevitable that golf would be in her future. It took some success by her brother, Nathan, to kick-start her career and at the age of nine she won her first tournament. At 17 she was the U.S. Junior Girls Amateur champion, which brought the likes of Purdue – the 2010 NCAA women’s champion – Ohio State and a handful of others into the recruiting picture.

Nathan attended North Dakota State and so would Amy.

“I never thought about any place else. The transition wasn’t that big of a deal to me,” Anderson admitted. “First and foremost college is about education, getting my degree. I love golf but right now it’s about school. It’s very important to me.”

The success at NDSU was immediate.

She was both the Summit League Newcomer and Player of the Year as a freshman; a Division I honorable mention All-American while breaking just about every school record in the book. She was one of nine individual qualifiers for the 2010 NCAA Championships. Throw in a 4.0 grade-point average.

Her sophomore campaign included five victories to raise her career total to 10, a second consecutive conference Player of the Year honor and another trip to the NCAA Championships where she would tie for 12th. In Bryan, Texas, at the 2011 Championships, Anderson was honored with the NCAA’s prestigious Elite 88 Award, given to the participating student-athlete with the highest GPA which for Anderson, for the second consecutive year, was a 4.0.

“That was a really big honor,” said Anderson, an accounting major. “Golf is very important to me but again the academic side of it is more important to me right now. I’m just having so much fun.”

Fun might be a good way to describe her summer.

Two days after the NCAA Championships in Texas, Anderson won a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier in Minnesota with a two-round total of 3-under-par 141.

After an opening-round 2-under 69 at the 2011 Women’s Open in Colorado Springs, Colo., in early July, Anderson found herself tied for second. Rounds of 77-81-74 the following three days put her in 63rd place at 17-over.

“It’s such a serious environment. They play for a different reason,” said Anderson. “It was an incredible experience and it showed that I can play with anybody. I putted so well that first day but I wasn’t able to keep it going. I don’t know, with all the weather delays and everything, I just couldn’t keep it going.”

The end of July saw Anderson advance to the semifinals of the TRANS National Amateur in Wyoming. A week later she was in Rhode Island for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Rounds of 73-71 put her into the Match Play bracket where, after knocking off the Philppines’ Cyna Rodriguez, Anderson ran into what proved to be one of the hottest players in the field, Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn.

Anderson took a 1-up lead into the 17th hole of the second round match. A 30-foot birdie putt by Jutanugam sent the two players to the 18th at all-square, and when Anderson was unable to make par, the run was over.

“I love the Amateur,” said Anderson. “We all know each other, we are all friends so it’s a great tournament to play in. [Jutanugam] is such a great player and she showed that by making the finals. That’s the thing I love about golf. You are able to meet so many fun people.”

There won’t be much of a break for Anderson, who expects to join her Bison teammates in Detroit Lakes, Minn., for the Concordia Cobber Open, Sept. 9. The fall schedule runs through the first week of November, and then, as many North Dakotans do, it will be time to put the “outside” clubs away.

“If I was to put a number on my [2011] performance it would probably be an eight,” said Anderson. “There are some things I have to do better. I want to get my scoring average under-par for the fall and I would like to win three tournaments this fall – Anderson has won two in each of her first two seasons as a collegian – and of course I want to make it back to the NCAAs.”