Throughout golf courses nationwide, a dress code is almost always enforced. Be it a nice collared-shirt with slacks, or just a shirt in general, golf course attire is always a topic for clubhouse conversation.
Needless to say, Heath Peters has brought upon quite the attention with his golf course apparel. Whether the Indiana sophomore is at the brand-new Hoosier practice facility wearing blue-jean shorts and a Dukes of Hazzard
t-shirt, or sporting a wild "Spring Break-type" shirt on the driving range tee, Peters is one that calls attention to himself.
One day at practice last spring, Peters was found at the range wearing a shirt that said "They Call Him Pete" on the front, with "Women Love Him And Men Want To Be Like Him" inscribed on the back. Simply outrageous. How could this attire be acceptable? Excuse the Caddyshack
reference, but "people don't dress like that at Bushwood."
Anyone reading this, especially if you're a golfer, probably already has their own picture of who Heath Peters is. What he looks like. How he acts. Your picture would probably be a little distorted if you knew the real Heath Peters.
"I like to be comfortable just like everyone else does," says Peters. "I believe that you don't have to look good to play good. I feel that actions speak for words, so it doesn't matter what you wear on the course. Coach wants us to be comfortable at practice, so I don't get all that dressed up."
See, Peters doesn't draw attention to himself by what he wears. He draws attention, and envy as well, to the simple, laid-back lifestyle that he has brought to Indiana in the past year-and-a-half. He draws attention to himself by the way he practices and plays. He draws attention to his subtle, yet remarkable, personality.
In fact, when talking about golfing attire, Peters is quick to point out that a tournament is far different from practice.
"When we hit the course that weekend, we're all business and very serious," he states. "We also look pretty darn good too. I'm proud to wear my IU shirt and be able to represent our school."
What's interesting about him though, is that for the majority of his golfing career, Peters has not even been near the radar screen of college coaches. He doesn't have a long list of national tournaments on his resume, and he really doesn't care. He also doesn't get bent out of shape when things go bad for him. "It'll get better. It might just take some time," he says to himself. The thing about Peters is that he is who he is. He is his own man.
"I'm not the kind of guy who gets upset about a lot of things," Peters said. "It takes quite a bit to get me upset. I stay back and out of things, let people go about their own business. I won't get into anyone else's business unless their actions disrupt the team or jeopardize our reputation."
A native of Garrett, Ind., a small town of roughly 7,000 people, Peters basically grew up waiting for a golf club to be put in his hand. His father played, as well as his three older brothers.
While heavily involved in baseball, basketball and football during his adolescent years, Peters felt that golf was his calling, but often wondered if anyone was noticing.
"I started when I was five or six years old and kept with it through middle and high school," he said. "I mainly stuck around Indiana and played, while other guys would go off to national tournaments where all the college coaches would be."
During his junior year of high school though, Peters qualified for the United States Junior Amateur in Portland, Ore. After an impressive performance out West, where he was one of the first Indiana players to advance to the second round of match play in a number of years, college coaches began talking to Peters, and quite often to boot. One of those coaches was the Hoosiers' Mike Mayer.
"I really started to get recognized out in Portland," recalls Peters. "I met Coach Mayer there and he expressed quite a bit of interest in me."
Once back in Indiana, Peters made his official visit to Bloomington and immediately feel in love.
"Ever since I was a little kid, I had always watched Indiana basketball on television," he said.
"When I came down to Bloomington, it was kind of surreal. I gelled nicely with all the guys on the team and thought the campus was beautiful. I knew it was the place for me."
Purdue and Ball State also recruited Peters at the time, but as he notes, Indiana just seemed to be the right fit. And what a fit it has been so far.
In his freshman campaign last season, Peters recorded a 74.89 stroke average in 32 rounds, which included three top-ten finishes. Peters' average was the fourth-best freshman average in the 75 years of Indiana men's golf. His teammate, sophomore Jeff Overton, broke the record last year with an average of 74.45.
While last year left Peters with many memorable moments, he lists the Big Ten Championships as the moment he has remembered the most in his young career. Leading into last year, the Hoosiers hadn't placed better than ninth in the conference in the past three years. At no point prior to last year's league championship, was Indiana considered a contender. But Peters and his teammates felt differently.
Indiana's first three rounds of 293-287-287 had the Hoosiers hovering around the top-spot in the tournament. Although a disappointing 300 in the final round dropped them to sixth place, Peters knows the potential was and is still there.
"Being in contention last year was something I won't soon forget," Peters said. "We knew we had the team that could be right there at the top. We knew that we could be competitive in the Big Ten. It was our time to show that Indiana is back in contention."
In contention is what the Hoosiers should be this May, as Indiana will host the 2003 Big Ten Championships at the IU Golf Course. A member of the most impressive Hoosier freshman classes in recent years, Peters knows that this year's freshmen will do nothing but help the Hoosiers win the conference title.
"We have another good freshman class this year," Peters said. "Scott Seibert and Brad Marek have already played some this fall and have scored well. We're young, but we're pretty experienced. We have the potential to place well better than we did last year and we're doing everything we can to make that happen."
This past fall, Peters was productive on the course, carding a 73.27 stroke average in 15 rounds. Although he fired 75 or lower in 12 of his 15 rounds, the remaining three rounds are something Peters will try to eliminate in the spring, when the Hoosiers open at the Big Red Classic in Ocala, Fla., March 8-9.
"This past fall, my scoring average was lower than it was last year, but I still have not put together a full tournament," he said. "I still have a lot of room for improvement. I just need one good tournament to get my confidence back. I'm planning on contributing quite a bit to the team this spring."
But if you ask his teammates, Peters has already contributed a significant amount to the Hoosier squad. Whether it be a 300-yard-plus drive off the tee, a sub-70 round, or that good 'ol boy smile that would cheer anyone up, Peters continues to lead both on and off the golf course, in a mission to put Indiana back at the top of the Big Ten.