Peter Kostis is a regular on CBS and USA Network's golf telecasts, and one of the game's most-respected teachers. Peter has been USA Network's top golf analyst since 1990. He has been working for CBS Sports since 1990. Peter has been a member of Golf Digest's Professional Panel for 22 years and was head instructor of the magazine's instruction schools from 1978 to 1987.
Peter is recognized worldwide for his teaching abilities. He has taught and played golf in more than 28 countries, and has worked with more than 125 PGA, LPGA and Senior PGA Tour pros, including Jack Nichlaus, Tom Kite, Mark Calcavecchia, Davis Love III, and Bernhard Langer. Peter has also helped well-known athletes in their pursuit of mastering the game, such as Kevin Costner, Maury Povitch, Dan Marino, and former baseball notables Jim Rice and Mike Schmidt.
Mr. Kostis currently serves as director of the Kostis/McCord Learning Center at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
SANFORD - What do Jack Nicklaus, Dan Marino, former President George Bush, and Kevin Costner all have in common?
They have all had a golf lesson with Sanford's own Peter Kostis.
Kostis is well known in the golf world. He is a respected teacher, running the Kostis/McCord Learning Center at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Since 1990, Kostis has also worked as a commentator for both CBS and USA Network's golf telecasts.
Peter Kostis' golfing accomplishments, both in teaching and broadcasting are the reasons why he has been chosen to be an inaugural member of the Sanford High School Hall of Fame.
Kostis first took up the game of golf as a junior high school student, when his cousin Dennis Kostis, a member of the SHS golf team, would take him golfing at the Sanford Country Club.
"He was a fair player," says Dennis. "You could tell he would make a great teacher someday. He had a very keen analytical mind."
Kostis followed in his cousin's footsteps by joining the SHS golf team. Kostis was also a member of the baseball, basketball, and football teams. "In high school, he was a better football player than a golfer," remembers Dennis Kostis.
While he enjoyed playing team sports in high school, Kostis says that he preferred golf above all. "There was something about it, I could control my own destiny," Kostis says. "That's why I gravitated to an individual sport."
After he graduated from SHS in 1965, Kostis was not planning on making a career out of golf. He was nominated by Senator Edmund Muskie to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., "It was the only place I wanted to be," says Kostis.
However, Kostis flunked the Naval Academy physical, ending his hopes of a naval career. "I was color blind," says Kostis.
Enter SHS football coach Charlie Caramihalis.
According to Kostis, Caramihalis, a University of New Hampshire alumni, sent a film of Kostis' football highlights to UNH, which offered Kostis a football scholarship.
Kostis' football career at UNH was short-lived; a knee injury ended his football playing days. "That's when I got serious about golf," says Kostis.
After graduating from UNH in 1970 with a BS in chemical engineering, Kostis returned to Maine and began his golf career as an assistant pro at the Cape Arundel Golf Club.
When winter set in, Kostis traveled to Florida, where he played in some mini-tour tournaments and got a job teaching at the Hamlet in Delray Beach. "I had an affinity for teaching and I made a decision that I would play a few events and get involved in teaching," says Kostis.
While in Florida, Kostis got involved with Golf Digest Magazine, and along with Jim Flick and Bob Toskin, started Golf Digest Golf Schools in the fall of 1973.
"It created a whole new business in golf," says Kostis. "Before then you couldn't make a lot of money teaching as a pro in a club."
Kostis was the head instructor at the Golf Digest Golf Schools from 1978 until leaving in late 1987.
It was a trip to the 1989 Ryder Cup matches at the Belfrey in England where Kostis began his television career, working for the USA Network.
"I had several players on both teams who were students of mine. A lady from USA heard I was going to be there and they needed an extra announcer," says Kostis. And a television career was born. "I guess they saw something they liked, and they signed me to a contract," Kostis says.
According to Kostis, CBS announcers Ben Wright and Gary McCord were at the Ryder Cup, and they were very supportive of the first-time broadcaster. "They were very kind," says Kostis.
The exposure at the '89 Ryder Cup was also instrumental in landing Kostis a job covering golf with CBS. "At the time CBS and USA were partners, that's how I got hired at CBS," Kostis remembers.
Kosits has had the opportunity to cover many tournaments while working for CBS. He says that two that stand out in his mind are the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro Am - "it's the most fun" says Kostis, and the Masters. Kostis says the Masters is the most prestigious tournament that he covers. "Every golfer should have a chance to go there once in their entire life," Kostis says.
From his position in the TV tower for the last decade, Kostis has had a chance to view the changing face of golf. According to Kostis, some of the biggest changes over the years are, "The broadening of the base of golfers. It started out primarily as a man's sport, then more women became involved," says Kostis. "Now with the emergence of Tiger Woods you're seeing more minorities."
"There's also a huge change in the money," says Kostis. "It used to be a sport that wasn't considered a major league sport, because of the money involved." As the amount of money involved has increased, Kostis says that golf has gone from a sport that is covered on "page six of the sports page to page one. Especially when Tiger plays."
Kostis feels that Tiger Woods has been very good for golf by exposing new fans to the game, "You're seeing a new breed of golf fans, a lot more kids coming to events," says Kostis. "People who don't even play golf are coming to see him at the tournaments."
As for television's coverage of Woods, Kostis doesn't feel that television has oversaturated its coverage by any means. "He's the best player in the world by a long shot," Kostis says. "We're accused every so often of showing all Tiger, but I don't think that's true."
Kostis feels that golf's appeal will continue to grow. "There's more and more young guys coming up," says Kostis. "There's a lot of great potential out there. Golf has a huge future."
Despite a busy television schedule (Kostis says that he covers a tournament almost every week from January to August), Kostis still finds time to teach the game he loves. He estimates that he has given lessons to between 100 and 125 PGA and LPGA players, including: Tom Kite, Davis Love III, Mark Calcavecchia, Bernhard Langer, and most notably, Jack Nicklaus.
"When Jack Nicklaus was getting ready for the Senior Tour, he came down to Florida to take lessons from me," says Kostis. "His long time teacher, Jack Grout had died, and he wanted somebody to watch him."
Kostis says that working with the legendary Nicklaus was a thrill, "Anytime you get to play with him (Nicklaus) is special."
Kostis' doesn't only work with professional golfers, he estimates that during his career he has given 150,000 to 250,000 lessons. Some of his other notable students include: Dan Marino; Darius Rucker of the rock band Hootie and the Blowfish; baseball hall of famers Mike Schmidt and Carl Yastrzemski, and television personality Maury Povich. He has also given lessons to former President George Bush, and while in the Philippines for a clinic, Kostis was summoned to the presidential palace to give President Ferdinand Marcos a golf lesson.
Academy award winning actor/director Kevin Costner is another Kostis pupil. Kostis taught Costner how to play golf in preparation for the film "Tin Cup". "Kevin was kind of a beginner," says Kostis.
Kostis says that he and Gary McCord started working with Costner about eight months before the movie started filming. "He's a quick study," Kostis says. "He hit most of the shots in the movie. He did a great job."
Kostis also appears in "Tin Cup", playing an announcer, "It was a real stretch," Kostis laughs.
In addition to his television work and teaching, Kostis runs the Kostis/McCord Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. along with his partner (and fellow CBS employee) Gary McCord.
"Gary knew the owner of Grayhawk (golf club) and that person asked him to run a golf school there," says Kostis. "Gary asked me to help him run it."
Since Kostis was already considering moving his family from Boca Raton, Fla. to Arizona, a golf school was born.
According to Kostis, McCord told him that, "It's the Kostis/McCord golf school and not the McCord/Kostis golf school because you're the one who knows how to teach."
Kostis has lived in Arizona full-time for the last seven years, however he has a home in Maine, and he tries to spend summers there. He says he hopes to return to Sanford this summer, "My kids want to see the golf course where I grew up," says Kostis.
Looking back at his roots in Sanford, and seeing the places his career has taken him, Kostis says, "I never, in my wildest dreams could imagine what has transpired and what I've done through golf. It's been fun."
Kostis sees a lesson in his success. "Expand your dreams," Kostis says. "If one person can do it, so can another."
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© 2004 Sanford High School