MANILA Tony Peterson of Blytheville is living his dream of golfing professionally as a member of the Senior PGA Tour in 1999 and 2001 and playing in the European Senior Tour in 2000.
Recently he tied for 59th to make the cut (top 63 players) at the U.S. Open for Seniors held in Baltimore, Md.
He is playing this year in the Heartland Players Senior Tour out of Oklahoma. Most of the tournaments are played in the Dallas/Houston area.
At the age of 45, Peterson began thinking about a future in the Senior PGA Tour. The tour is open to golfers 50 and over.
Peterson has been a resident of Blytheville for 15 years. Before starting to golf professionally, he worked for Arkansas Steel Processing. Prior to that he was an assistant golf pro in Kansas City for almost 10 years. He said he enjoyed the years working as a golf pro, but it involved more taking care of memberships than playing golf competitively.
He has enjoyed the game of golf since he was 16 and has golfed for a living for the last four and a half years.
"When you are playing well, it is enjoyable. When you are struggling with the mental game, it is not as enjoyable," he said.
Peterson said his wife, Carole, is very supportive. Golfing professionally does take him away from home a lot. In between tournaments he enjoys relaxing and spending time with his family and visiting with his four grandchildren. That gives him a break from the busy schedule that goes with the golf tours. He does not golf every day on his time off.
"You don't want to get burned out and it can get too hectic," Peterson said.
It has been a very interesting four and a half years for Peterson and he is living out the dream he had. During his first tournaments as a professional, he played with Jack Nicholaus and Gary Player.
"They were my idols and legends of the game. Those tournaments were interesting but pressure-packed. Playing with them gives me something to tell my grandkids," Peterson said.
In the fall he will try again for the Senior PGA Tour. He has made it two out of four times so far and is looking forward to the challenge once again. He said if that is unsuccessful, he will go again for the European tour.
He does keep a busy golfing schedule playing in the Waterloo Open in Iowa last week and then going to Dallas for two mini-tournaments.
One of the things he has discovered since entering golf on the professional side is that players are a lot better than he had anticipated.
"It is a challenge you want to take on to see how you stack up against the best," he said.
This is the first year since he started golfing professionally that he had a little more time off and enjoyed playing in a guest/member tournament with Dana Donner and joining Donner and Terry Brewer for a 3-person scramble in the Buffalo Island Cancer Relay for Life Golf tournament held at Big Lake Country Club in Manila.