One of the pro/con aspects of coaching high school golf in Buffalo-Niagara, is the golfers against which your team is pitted. You respect their game, no doubt, but you wish that A) they attended your school or B) they would move away. In the case of Peter Creighton, he did drive us crazy, playing for a rival school. He and his older brother, Adam, were stalwarts on the Canisius teams of the 2000s. We caught up with Peter this holiday season, as he prepares for final-state qualifying school for the Korn Ferry Tour. Have a look at what he had to say about growing up golfing, and chasing a tour dream.
1- Tell us who you are, where you grew up golfing, and what that environment meant to you, in your early development as a player?
Well to start, My name is Peter Creighton and I grew up in Kenmore. I originally started golfing in the town of Tonawanda, playing at Sheridan and Brighton golf course. I was very fortunate that once my Dad saw my brother and I really taking to golf we joined River Oaks for a couple years. Once my brother got his license we decided to make the jump to Crag Burn because of the practice facilities, as well as the golf course being one of, if not the toughest in the Western New York area. Fortunately, when we joined there were a bunch of good players to play with that certainly helped make me better. My early years as a player were not very exciting. I mostly played golf in the summer to fill the time because I couldn’t sit still and my parents needed me to burn off all the energy I had. I did win the New York State Junior boys Championship when I was 14, but other than that, my junior career was subpar at best.
2-What advice would you give to young golfers (with no adults around!) that will help them learn to love the game AND develop as players?
The first piece of advice that I would give to young golfers, is to find someone that can teach you good fundamentals, and then go play as much golf as you possibly can. Learn how to go play golf. The range is great, and you certainly need to practice, but learning how to play golf and shoot lower scores is what golf is all about.
3-What decision did you make for college? How did you find the best fit for you and your game?
My decision for college was fairly easy. Florida Southern was the only school that offered me a preferred walk on spot. I really had no other offers in terms of actually being on the team, so the decision was pretty easy for me. I was going to go to college in Florida and not have to deal with the snow. Sounded like a dream to me. It ended up being a good fit because it was a small school and really afforded me the opportunity to work on my game and get better.
4-At what point did you decide that the touring professional game was your career path, and what steps have you taken to maximize your potential?
When I moved to Florida for college my aspirations from that point forward were to play professional golf. Having said that, I had no idea what that actually meant. When I turned pro I really had no business turning pro, but I learned very quickly what it was going to take to even get to the point of being competitive. The biggest thing that I have done is tried to play in as many tournaments as possible. The only way to get better is to continue to get comfortable playing when you have to post a score. I also moved to Jacksonville last year which has been a huge step in getting better. It’s very easy to get motivated when you are constantly surrounding yourself with good players.
5-Any missteps along the way, do-overs that you would love to have? If not, tell us about the best break you had along the way.
I am sure there were missteps and do-overs along the way that I would like to have, but I try to look at those as opportunities for growth and learning. You fail a lot in this game and often learn much more from the failures than the successes.
The biggest break starting off I got was ending up at Florida Southern was a huge break. I qualified for the Porter Cup in 2008 and ended up playing a 9 hole practice round with a guy named Jude Eustaquio. He asked me where I was going to school and I told him that I was going to have to walk on a Rollins. He then says why don’t you come to Florida Southern. At the time I thought that he was just talking. He got my number, and two days later the coach called and offered me walk on spot.
6-Do you work with an instructor? Identify her/him, and tell us what her/his style/method bring to your and your development.
I do work with an instructor and I have worked with a few very good ones that have all played a pivotal role getting me to this point. Growing up in buffalo Gary Battistoni was the first instructor I had. He was awesome. Gave me a great foundation. When I moved to Florida though it was very difficult to work with him. The second guy I worked with was Brian Symonds. I probably spent more time with Brian then anyone over those first few summers I was in college. He believed in me that I could get to that next level and was instrumental in helping with that process. I worked with Brian until my second year as a pro and then worked with Tony Ziegler. Tony was closer to where I was living and made it easier to see him when I was home. Currently I am working with Tim Cooke and we started working about 6 months ago and have done some minor tweaks that have made a huge impact. I also started seeing John Graham about 4 months ago for putting. All of these coaches have been very helpful getting me to this point.
None of these coaches are “method” coaches, because I don’t believe there is one way to teach every person. Every person is different. Teaching every person the same way, in my opinion, doesn’t always work. Brian used to tell me every coach is right but can you do what they are trying to get you to do.
7-Speaking to adults now (with none of their golf buddies around) what two things do you tell them to work on, to enhance their game? Make one a short-term fix, and the other a long-term commitment.
Two things that I think would help every golfer would certainly be to eliminate 3 putts, and don’t try and kill the ball. If you hit the ball solid generally it will go pretty far.
8-You’ve played PGA Tour China and PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Your passport must be filled with ink, so what have you learned from traveling the world and playing among so many different cultures and languages?
Playing all over the world has helped me greatly in becoming a better golfer. I always feel the best way to get better is to put yourself in the most uncomfortable situation possible and become comfortable. There have been many times, especially in China, where there was no words spoken in the group all day. Traveling and playing golf teaches you not only about yourself, but so much about life. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I have had the last three years. Its brought me to the point where I am at today.
9-What question haven’t we asked, that you would like to answer? Ask it and answer it, please, and thank you for your time today.
How did growing up playing other sports help you with golf?
Fortunately, I grew up playing mostly hockey. I played golf because it was something to do in the summer. I think hockey is what originally made me so competitive. I learned how to compete in hockey which then translated to golf later in life. I would highly recommend parents to not have their kids focus on one sport. I was very fortunate that my parents didn’t force me to play any sports. I played sports because I loved to compete. That competitiveness has gotten me to this point and will continue to keep pushing me forward.