Category - Amateur Programs
Drake Peters' Incredible Journey to the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship
By Kayla Gutierrez
Drake Peters (far left) and the Team Ohio squad.
Miracles happen, and Drake Peters is proof of that.
Texas native and Team Ohio PGA Jr. League member, Drake Peters, is showing junior golfers that anything is possible.
Before he was born, doctors told his parents, Maribeth and Brett Peters, that it would be almost impossible for her to have a baby due to her autoimmune disease (ME/CFS), and there would be absolutely no way she could carry one full term.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.
Drake and his mom both nearly died during birth, and his birth was nothing short of a miracle. Many birth complications led to extensive oxygen loss to his brain, resulting in an emergency C-section. The severe trauma caused serious visual impairments that affected Drake’s ability to see normally for the rest of his life.
Peters was born with a rare combination of six visual processing disorders with the most common one know as accommodative esotropia. These conditions have left him with no peripheral vision and severely limited depth perception. It's worth noting just how uncommon this is — less than 1 percent of the population experiences more than one disorder simultaneously. Peters' visual challenges make his situation exceptionally rare.
Since he was a toddler, Drake underwent extensive visual therapy to train his brain to see properly. He relies on specially prescribed bi-focal glasses that correct both short and long visionary distances. Without them, he is nearly blind.
“He's been wearing his glasses since he was very little, but his friends, classmates, and teammates really have no idea the severity of his vision," says Drake's father, Brett. "We don’t want to make him feel different or stand out and we aren’t making any excuses for him. We want him to live a normal life just like every other kid."
National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship
See the latest scores from Frisco, Texas.
However, his visual impairments make regular days a lot harder for him. He requires more rest than the average kid and has to take much more care of his body, as he is more prone to fatigue and sickness.
Yet despite these challenges, Drake is determined to live a normal life. And thanks to his perseverance, strong faith and the game of golf, he can.
Drake's passion for golf is seeded in Prosper, Texas, a town conveniently located just 5 miles from Fields Ranch West at PGA Frisco, site of this week's National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship, where he spent a significant part of his early life.
"He’s a natural athlete. He used to play baseball, but we made the difficult decision to withdraw him from the sport, because it became increasingly more difficult for him with his visual disorders and we noticed that," notes Brett. "This proved to really work out in his best interest because, now, he's a phenomenal golfer. It's a stationary sport, so it actually works out a lot better for him, and he really enjoys playing the game."
Surrounded by Texas golf, Drake began playing at a very young age, when his parents took him to a local driving range. His golf game later blossomed in the local Operation 36 program, where he learned everything he knows about the game. As his skills progressed, he transitioned into competitive tournament play, becoming a part of PGA Jr. League teams and later participating in U.S. Kids events.
Recently, however, Drake and his family moved to Ohio, where he joined a PGA Jr. League team which advanced this summer all the way through local, Section and regional qualifying to get to the national championship in Frisco this weekend.
“We didn’t know there was such a competitive element to the PGA Jr. League," says Drake's mother, Maribeth. "We really love the team aspect of it. He’s met a lot of really good friends from it and these boys have taken him in as a teammate and a friend. They all have the same passion and I think it’s so special to see that.”
Golf is for everyone. And Drake hopes that his story will inspire other junior golfers to play the sport no matter what obstacles stand in their way.
"I’m excited for the opportunity to put our talent on this kind of stage and perform at our best in front of an audience," says Drake. "We just have to play our game, and if we do that, I truly think we have a great chance of winning.”
"It’s been an amazing journey getting here and it’s going to be a lot of fun competing with Team Ohio."