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Jamie Vaught: Midway/KHSAA Student-Athlete of the Year shines on the golf course, and in the classroom

If you play golf in Kentucky, especially in the southeastern part of the state, you’re more than likely have heard of Andrew Caldwell.

He is also a remarkable young man.

Andrew Caldwell (Photo by Jamie H. Vaught)

The 2021 Bell County High School graduate, who has been playing outstanding golf for a long time, recently has received a prestigious statewide award as he was named Midway University/KHSAA Student-Athlete of the Year in boys’ golf. Along with the student-athletes in other sports, he was recognized for his achievement in golf as well as academics and community service at last month’s ceremony held on Midway University’s campus in Woodford County.

“I’m blessed to be a part of such a group. I couldn’t believe it when I saw my name,” said Caldwell, a First Tee participant who has been playing golf for 17 years since he was a very little kid.

Caldwell also received Bell County School System’s P.A.W.S. Award as the top student for being a positive scholar along with appropriate behavior as well as having the willingness to work and selfless attitude. His high school GPA (grade point average) was an amazing 4.2 (out of 4.0) and he ranked third (out of 178) in his senior class along with an ACT score of 27.

A two-time Gay Brewer Jr. grant recipient who has won numerous golf tournaments in Kentucky, Caldwell finished his senior season with an 8-under-par in 12 high school events or matches. (As you may recall, Brewer won the 1967 Masters tournament and is the only Kentuckian to ever win the U.S. Junior Championship.)

Interestingly, Caldwell once shot a 45 (for nine holes) in his first high school match when he was only 10 years old.

Dr. John P. Marsden, president of Midway University, golfer Andrew Caldwell, and KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. (Photo by Mark Mahan for Midway University)

Caldwell said his father has helped him grow and become an excellent golfer. He is very thankful for his dad’s guidance.

“My dad, Donnie Caldwell, influenced me the most (in the game of golf),” said the younger Caldwell. “He has showed me everything I know.”

The elder Caldwell is the head golf professional at Wasioto Winds Golf Course in Pineville and the program director of The First Tee Pine Mountain (which is a PGA program dedicated to providing young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop through golf with life skills). He also was named as the Golf Professional of the Year by the Kentucky Section of the PGA in 2019.

During his high school career, Andrew Caldwell also has captured Southeast Kentucky Golf Conference Player of the Year honors for four straight years.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of five books about UK basketball, including recently-published “Chasing the Cats: A Kentucky Basketball Journey.” He is the editor and founder of KySportsStyle.com Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

What about Caldwell’s career-best golf score for 18 holes? He said he made a 63 in the Wasioto Winds Club Championship.

Caldwell was asked about the most interesting experience or trip that he has had in his golf career. He said it would have to be his 2018 appearance at the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee at the legendary Pebble Beach course in California. It’s is a once-a-lifetime memory that he will never forget.

“Having the opportunity to play at such a historic course was an honor,” smiled Caldwell. He was one of the only two junior golfers — ages 14 to 18 — from Kentucky who participated in that nationally-televised event. (Cameron Martin of Cold Spring in northern Kentucky was the other Kentuckian who participated.)

Superstar Tiger Woods is Caldwell’s favorite player. Caldwell admires Woods “because of his ability to change the game.”

In addition to golf, he also played basketball for Bell County High as a guard for four years. Coach Brad Sizemore has said Caldwell was the best defensive player on the team which posted a 16-11 mark last winter. By the way, Sizemore also coached Caldwell on the boys’ golf team.

But Caldwell said golf will always be his No. 1 sport.

Caldwell will be attending Eastern Kentucky University this fall. He already has taken enough college credits via the Bell County High/Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College dual credit program to be enrolled as a sophomore when entering college.

Caldwell, who already has a perfect 4.0 GPA in his college classes, plans to major in nursing and enter the medical field.

When he isn’t studying or working, you can safely bet that Andrew Santiago Caldwell will be spending a lot of time on a beautiful golf course somewhere, playing his favorite sport.

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