August 30, 2002
The Milton Chamber of Commerce should be pleased with the comments about the town by one of its newest residents, Shawnee Country Club head professional Devon Peterson:
“For me, it’s perfect. I really like it there. It’s a lot like the place I grew up in as a kid.”
Peterson moved to the Cape Region early this year to begin his tenure at Shawnee, the home course for many other Cape area residents. The 43-year-old pro freely discussed his background and teaching philosophy in a recent interview.
Peterson was born in Summit, New Jersey. His family moved to the Long Beach Island area when he was a child, and he started playing golf at age 9. He took a break from golf after three years, and started up again during his senior year of high school at Southern Regional, in Manahawkin.
“I really went nuts with golf that summer after high school,” Peterson said. “I was working at night, and would play 36-45 holes a day, every day. I went from a 22 handicap down to a 9 in that first year. I managed to bring it down to a 4 by the end of the next year, and it stayed there until I turned pro when I was 21.”
He easily passed his Playing Ability Test the first time, at Fiddlers Elbow CC in north Jersey, and began his five-year apprenticeship at Colonia Country Club in Middlesex. Peterson completed three of the PGA business schools, and also took courses on retail management at Union College. During the winter breaks he played many mini-tour events in northern Florida and the Tampa region.
From 1984 to 1986 Peterson became the head pro at Atlantis Country Club, and then tapped into his savings to concentrate on playing golf from 1987 to 1990. “I played a bunch of mini-tour events and any other tournaments I could get into, such as the Vermont and Massachusetts Opens. Some of those tournaments had good sponsors, such as Founders Club and Taylor Made, so the money was pretty good.”
While in Florida, he helped out with some of the teaching load at a few clinics, and enjoyed it. Peterson eventually completed “four or five” seminars led by Bob Toski and Jim Flick, learning more about how to teach golf.
He returned to golf course work at Atlantic City CC, averaging over “1000 lessons per year” from 1991 through 1998. “I also kept playing in the Philadelphia PGA Section events, and managed to tie the course record at Atlantic City with a 63 during a pro-am event.”
When a consortium of casino owners bought out that club, Peterson then found work as a teaching pro at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrence, New Jersey. He stayed there until taking the new position at Shawnee.
Peterson said that one thing he’s noticed already about the Delmarva golfers he’s met is that “there are a lot more people here who’ve not had lessons in a long while. Some of them are now coming back to the idea, which is good.”
He also stressed the importance of the fundamentals, such as a proper grip, stance, and set-up. “I really like to put emphasis on doing drills on the set-up and other basic elements. The more time spent on these drills, the less time the golfers will spend thinking during their swinging. Unfortunately, some folks want to just keep swinging, and hope they find something that works.”
During the rare moments during the busy golf season that he’s not at the golf course, Peterson’s list of activities can be expressed pretty simply: “Movies, music, and the beach.”
With all that the Cape Region has to offer, then, it sounds like Peterson’s initial favorable impressions should probably remain in place.