The biggest impact Paul and Denise Pirtle made on their grandson, Peyton Jones, was giving him a love of golf.
The family would play a round of golf after church every Sunday. Seeing how the 5-year-old took to the game they bought him a set of plastic clubs, so he could hit the ball when they played.
“I love golf,” Peyton said. “It’s the only sport I play. I would always play outside with my parents and grandparents. My mom and dad, (Gannon and Janie) bought me a real set of clubs, so I could play.”
At the age of 7, Peyton began playing in the Sun Country Tour, which plays Northern Mexico and West Texas.
The home-schooled 13-year-old won the qualifier at the Ladera Golf Course in June, winning his age bracket. Peyton shot a 73 to win the event and qualify for the Junior Worlds Championship in Carlsbad, California.
At the tournament, he finished 145th out of 152 players. Even though the finish wasn’t what he had hoped for, Peyton learned a lot about playing with golfers who are on his skill level and better.
“I learned when you go out there not to fill your head with too much stuff,” Peyton said. “I feel like if I played the way I know how to play, I would have been in the top 50.”
This experience at the Junior Worlds Championship helped give him confidence to compete at a higher level. Peyton played in the Sun Country Junior Tour at Sandia and shot a 1-under par to win that tournament. He shot under par for the very first time. Peyton followed that tournament up with a 70, 70, shooting a 2-under par to win the Desert Sun Classic Tournament.
Peyton has had a successful summer with seven wins on the Rocky Mountain Junior Tour, Sun Country Junior Tour and the Desert Sun Classic. Peyton is a normal kid who loves golf. He guards against burnout by taking breaks between his lessons and tournament play. His hobbies are hunting and fishing.
Peyton is a member of The First Tee program which mentors young kids for golf. The program teaches golf and life skills.
“His swing has improved over the last year,” said Peyton’s coach, Randy Doerhoefer. “His skill level is above most kids his age. For the last year, Peyton worked on his mental approach to get better. Golf is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”
Doerhoefer believes Peyton’s game got better because of the Junior Worlds Championship, and playing better competition will prepare him to play better in the future.
Peyton’s next goal is to win the Tournament of Champions in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Dec. 27 to 29.
“The New Mexico Military Institute golf course is privileged and honored to watch Peyton (Jones) turn into not only a fine young golfer, but young man,” said Crae Fields, the head golf professional at NMMI.