It is scary the potential Roswell High’s sophomore golfer Peyton Jones has. His ceiling is unknown since he is yet to grow into his body. Peyton just finished his freshman year, where he finished in ninth place at state. As an eighth-grader Peyton was all-state finishing in third place.
All of this off of a set of plastic golf clubs his grandparents Paul and Denise Pirtle bought him when he was 1 1/2 years old. Peyton loved golf so much as a kid that he would play a round of golf every Sunday after church with his dad.
Now, golf has turned into an obsession of wanting to see how good he can be and how much better he can get. His dad, Gannon Jones, bought him his own set of clubs at 5 years old and took him to Cool Start Golf Shop. After seeing Peyton swing a golf club, Gannon decided to buy him his own set of clubs and after that put Peyton in First Tee.
“I love golf,” Peyton said. “It’s the only sport I play. I knew I should be shooting lower scores this year at state, but I think the thing I learned was patience. I learned to let the game come to me.”
Peyton plays five to six days a week during the summer and received a camp invitation Saturday to play at Texas Tech. He will play in a tournament Tuesday through Thursday — the All-Star Junior AJGA at the Rawls Course in Lubbock, Texas. His goal is to play college golf and one day to turn pro and win lots in major.
With a two-day total of four under par, Peyton won the Starburst Junior Golf Classic Championship Tournament in Waco, Texas, on June 17-18. Since winning he has been invited to the Texas State Open next month in Tyler, Texas. He turned it down.
After winning this tournament, he will be going to PGA Junior Championship in Connecticut from July 29 through Aug. 2.
Peyton won the 5A District golf tournament at Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs by shooting a 71-71 for the boys 16 and under division.
Peyton has improved his golf game and his mind, he doesn’t let a bad start get him down anymore like he used to. In district, he started out the match going birdie, double bogey, par, quad and then he settled down to find his game.
“It was cool winning district,” Peyton said. “Whenever I made double and quad, I kind of knew I was out of it. I was able to make a few birdies and stay in it. Whenever I make a bad score, I just know it is over with and I just try to do the best I can on the next hole.”
As a young golfer, one of Peyton’s favorite memories is playing in a four-man scramble at Spring River he won a golf club signed by Roswell’s own Gerina Piller. He uses the golf club to hang his golf medals on.
“The courses around here help prepare me more mentally than physically,” Peyton said.
He says that Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club is one of the best courses he has played at and the Rockwind course greens are faster and bigger. Peyton has played at the Rawls course at Texas Tech and thinks it is a nice course to play. Peyton feels like the course is more open and that if he gets off the fairway too much, he can find himself in trouble.
Peyton works out doing P90X and Insanity workouts for his core. He feels like being in shape is a strength to his game and helps keep him sharp mentally during a tough round. Peyton has been challenged during a round of golf by other golfers in the state, such as: Aidan Thomas of St. Pius, Trey and Tyler Diehl of Piedra Vista have proven to be tough competition for him.
The key to Peyton’s growth as a golfer was when he went to Junior Worlds two years ago. He thought he was ready but he wasn’t. He didn’t play very well and he faced players that were shooting 2-3 under par every day on rounds — he knew that experience was a big turning point in his golfing.
Peyton has grown mentally to the point that when opponents trash-talk him, he feels like he is already in their head and his opponent is concerned about him or they wouldn’t talk smack to him. Peyton prefers to let his game do the talking.
“Whenever someone is trash-talking me,” Peyton said, “I feel like I have the advantage. They are already focused on me.”
Peyton has learned to trust his instinct on the course, he feels that if he goes with his second instincts it is usually wrong. He makes adjustments based on experience from all of the golf he has played.
To stay fresh and hungry for the game, Peyton does take a break from golf by not playing much in January, and very little during fall. Winning also keeps him hungry, and it has been hard for him to find players to play rounds with.
His favorite golfer is Ricky Fowler because he is classy, and keeps his attitude right. Fowler only shows his emotions on the course after a win.
Peyton credits his golf coach Randy Doerhoefer for his success when he plays at tournaments.
“He’s helped me,” Peyton said, “with my swing, and mentally, as well. He’s been an awesome coach and has helped me blossom.”
Doerhoefer has helped Peyton’s younger brother, Bowen Jones, 13, develop his golf game, as well. Peytons’ parents cannot brag enough about Doerhoefer and how he has helped Peyton and Bowen Jones with their golf games.
“Randy has been very careful with the way these boys have performed,” Gannon Jones, Peyton’s father said. “He’s been worth the money. We can’t brag enough on Doerhoefer, he’s been a big part of this with Peyton. He’s been very pivotal and we wouldn’t be where we are at without him. He’s been a friend and mentor to the boys.”
Peyton feels like his whole golf game has improved and he cannot pinpoint the strongest part of his game. On any day, it could be his putting, driving and chipping. Peyton feels like he has all of the physical tools to be a top-notch golfer, he just needs to improve on the mental aspect of his game.
“Each year,” Gannon Jones said, “Peyton has improved on each aspect of his game. He shot a 62 in Alamogordo, and was one shot off the course record for the tournament. He’s had a successful summer.”
Peyton took off two weeks after school, and has been playing in tournament after tournament since. With fees of upwards to $20,000 for both boys, mother, Janie Jones and Gannon Jones have to pick and choose what tournament to play in.
One of Peyton’s highlights of golf was meeting and having his picture taken with Gerina Piller and PGA golfer, Cameron McCormick.
“My goals this year,” Peyton said, “is to win district again, and state as a sophomore.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.