Next-Level Highlanders: Evan Buddenhagen


Welcome to Next-Level Highlanders. These profiles will cover many Pingree School seniors who are committed to playing a variety of different sports in college. The series was created to give the Pingree and extended communities a glimpse into the college recruiting process and how these Highlanders have reached the Next-Level of competitive athletics. 

Earlier this week, I sat down with Kennesaw State Men’s Golf commit and Pingree School senior Evan Buddenhagen. Evan is a Gloucester native who began his golf career at nearby Turner Hill Golf Club in Ipswich, Mass. Buddenhagen’s first memory of playing golf was going to the driving range with his brother and dad at a young age. His favorite part about golf is hitting a good shot and feeling rewarded. Also, he emphasized the difficulty of playing in tournaments. He mentioned that multi-day tournaments are tough mentally and that you need to be able to reset after bad holes, which was the hardest thing for him to learn.

Before Pingree, Buddenhagen spent three years at the world-renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Buddenhagen first heard about IMG from a friend of his while at a golf camp in Florida. On a later visit, he saw the potential to elevate his game through coaching and was further persuaded by the facilities that IMG offers. In a program with two-hundred peak golfers, Buddenhagen believes his dedication allowed him to separate his game from the competition. About five nights a week, Buddenhagen and his friends would bring flashlights onto the putting greens to work on their short game. He would also go out and play tournaments on the weekend, which added to the long hours of golf Buddenhagen played weekly during his time at IMG.

After quitting baseball in eighth grade, Buddenhagen had his eyes set on playing Division 1 (D1) golf. Buddenhagen got a college advisor before starting his junior year at IMG. His advisor’s D1 background helped Buddenhagen talk to many coaches in the system, like Wisconsin University and the University of South Carolina. Buddenhagen’s priorities regarding academics, scholarship money, and weather attracted him to three official visits to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, West Virginia University, and Kennesaw State University. On his visit to Kennesaw, Buddenhagen was given a tour of the campus and played a round of golf with some of the current players, including Evan Thompson, a dual-sport D1 athlete who documents his athletic experiences on Tiktok and other social media. Buddenhagen found that Georgia was the perfect place to play his collegiate golf alongside the top-notch competition he would face due to Kennesaw’s schedule. 

A few weeks ago, Buddenhagen traveled south to spectate The Masters. The prestigious tournament held annually at Augusta National Club in Augusta, Georgia, creates a buzz around the sports world due to the amazing moments and performances. In recent years, the narrative of a college-level amateur competing for the coveted green jacket has become increasingly common. While discussing his future, Buddenhagen mentioned his plan to pursue professional golf. Being present for Sam Bennett’s historic performance at The Masters (T16, 1st Amateur) and hearing about their similarities was inspirational to Buddenhagen. As Buddenhagen’s time at Pingree comes to a close, his earned place at the next level awaits.