As the sun sets on his pro career, John Peterson has no regrets
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As the sun sets on his pro career, John Peterson has no regrets

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Make no mistake, John Peterson is definitely a glass-half-full guy.

Playing under a major medical extension this season due to a hand injury, Peterson failed to earn enough to secure his Tour card for next season.

Thus, after competing on the and PGA Tour for the better part of the past seven years, the three-time All-American LSU-grad played his final professional hole (making birdie) at the Tour Championship in September before retiring.

This was no heat of the moment decision but rather something he has planned for and been at peace with for quite some time.

For the 29-year-old Peterson who finished tied for fourth at the 2012 U.S. Open (including a dramatic hole in one) and won the 2012 Coca-Cola Walmart Open on the Adams Tour, it’s all about perspective and finding joy in what he knows are the truly meaningful things in his life.    

“I’m optimistic,” Peterson says. “I have a beautiful wife (Amanda), awesome little boy (1-year-old Luke) and one more on the way. I’ve recently started getting more involved with a couple of my investments and that’s occupying much of my free time.”

The oldest of four children, all within six years of age from one another, Peterson remains grounded in his strong beliefs and the support he has from his family and community.

“My family is very close and we are all in Fort Worth,” Peterson says. “Being born and raised here, and knowing half the town, our roots run deep. My parents did a great job instilling family values in us as little kids and always made us work for anything we wanted. I never had an allowance like many of my friends. Instead, I would have to go scrub the baseboards or mow the grass if I wanted extra money. Little things like that as a youngster are very helpful today in my adult life. We always went to church on Sunday. Rain, snow, 100 degrees, didn’t matter. Our Christian faith has been at the center of my family since Day One.

“We only get 80-ish years on this earth, if we’re lucky. I see my only grandparent I have left on this earth every Wednesday night now. Back when I was playing, I was lucky to see him once a quarter. I hated it. He’s 92 and won’t be around forever. Now he knows his great-grandson like he would never have if I kept playing. He was my biggest fan though, and now he and I get to have that special time every week.”

Peterson, who won the 2011 Men's Division I golf individual championship, says he is a firm believer in our being the average of the five people closest to us. To that end, he has tried to spend his time around the people that will improve him as a person.

“I have become buddies with Charles Warren, who played the Tour for years, and then just retired out of nowhere,” he said. “He and I share similar values. I have chatted with college golf legend and Fort Worth’s own Lindy Miller too, who decided the pro golf life wasn’t for him either.”

Despite the ease with which he has taken everything, Peterson definitely put his heart into regaining his form on the course and earning his card. But, the nagging injury to his hand limited his ability to fully return to playing golf at the highest level.

“I knew it would have a lasting impact on my golf game, and it has,” he says. “I never got back to 100 percent speed after that. I had a few good finishes here and there, but I could never touch 117 mph again. I was smoothing it out there at 115 mph in 2015, and in fall 2016 when I started back, I couldn’t touch 113 mph swinging my hardest. Losing those 20 yards or so was huge, especially with all the young bombers coming out of school.”

Although he says he will certainly miss the great network of friends he has cultivated over the years on tour, Peterson is completely at ease with his decision to step away.

“I’ll miss the friends I saw every week. I made friends out there that I’ll have my entire life," he says. "There’s a reason the top ten players in the world are there. Most of them don’t have kids or aren’t married. This game requires 100 percent all the time to be the best in the world and you definitely have to sacrifice things to be great at it.”

Asked whether there might be a time when he would consider attempting a comeback, Peterson replied with a simple “never.”

But, his choice to retire from touring golf doesn’t mean he is done with the game altogether. In fact, he has already filed the paperwork necessary to regain his amateur status and is working with the USGA to see how long that process will take.

For now, Peterson remains fully content and optimistic about his future filling his days with relaxing, farming, and being a dad.

“I have a small farm and I love to get on the tractor and improve the property,” he says. “I just finished building a pond. It took five days of tough work, but we got substantial rain immediately afterwards, and it’s already full. I filled it with channel catfish, and they will be ready to be caught in a year or so. I also just started working for GT Engineering, a down-hole drill-bit company out of Oklahoma. We provide roller-cone and diamond bits to oil, gas and utility companies. I have a small ownership in the company and am excited about the opportunities there.”

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John Lahtinen