Derek Weaver is only 15, but he’s already a veteran on the golf course, and a pretty darn good one at that.
Weaver, from Hackettstown and a member of Panther Valley Golf & Country Club, began playing golf when he was just six years old. He played in his first tournament when he was 9. Since then, he’s played in numerous tournaments, in New Jersey and around the country.
Weaver credits a close family friend, Robert Thomas, for getting him into golf and giving him his first lessons. Although he is home schooled, he is also now a member of the Hackettstown High School golf team. In his first year with the Tiger golf club he won the K Classic with a 71, took third place at counties and qualified for the Tournament of Champions.
For the past three years, he has worked closely with Dan McCarthy, the golf pro at Panther Valley.
“He knows my swing so well and if something is off he can always identify what is off and help fix it,” said Weaver.
“Derek is unique,” said McCarthy. “For such a young kid, he has extensive knowledge of the golf swing and the game itself. We work together every Friday morning, but with him, it’s not your standard golf swing lesson. After a few weeks, we changed our game plan immensely. We weren’t working on the swing itself so to speak, we worked on hitting golf shots. High draws, low fades, etc. Derek has raised the bar. He has PGA Tour aspirations, so our game plan had to be changed to accomplish his goals, which rightfully so, are set very high
Weaver plays on the Junior NJPGA tour, and has played at AJGA and FJGT Florida) events. In the process he made the NJPGA All State Third Team. He has also been invited to play this year again in the NJPGA Pritsch Cup (top five players 16-18 and 11-15 in NJPGA player standings).
In other highlights, he was eighth in the AJGA All Star Tournament in Ohio (3+ day competition), was second in the NJPGA Mountain Classic, and finished in the top 10 in all NJPGA events this year.
Weaver’s game has many strengths, but he says he is strongest with his short game, where he is great around the greens. “Although he is a little guy, when you have a short game that’s good,” said McCarthy. “It takes a lot of pressure off your golf swing. He doesn’t just swing the club when he plays, he hits shots.”
Down the line, Weaver aspires to play Division 1 golf in college, “hopefully somewhere warm all year,’’ he says with a smile.
McCarthy predicts that there will be much more than just college success for Weaver.
“He is very impressive for someone so young and has been a real pleasure to watch develop,” said the Panther Valley Pro. “We are going to be hearing his name for a long time in the golf industry.”