Peewee Moke was destined to play in the NRL but a passion for golf opened an unexpected opportunity.
The irony is that the character trait that prevented Peewee Moke from forging a career in the NRL is now the driving force in his quest to become a PGA professional.
A schoolboy star at the famed rugby league finishing school at Endeavour Sports High in Sydney, Moke mixed with future greats of the game as he neared a senior call-up. He was an Australian Schoolboys representative alongside the likes of Greg Inglis, Kade Snowden and Blake Green, and a standout in a Sydney Roosters team led by Jamie Soward that went through the 2004 Jersey Flegg season undefeated.
That next off-season he trained alongside first-grade stars such as Craig Fitzgibbon, Luke Ricketson and Anthony Minichiello, yet the NRL debut never came. Moke found out the hard way that hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard.
“Talent got me a long way, but my work ethic was pretty poor when I was young,” Moke admits. “When you get to the NRL, you get really found out if you don’t put in the work and that’s what happened to me. I was close at the Roosters. Looking back now, all I really needed to do was to turn up to training and put in my best effort.”
He spent years in lower-grade teams attached to NRL clubs at the Roosters, Sharks, Panthers and Bulldogs before a short stint playing ‘bush footy’ in Temora in New South Wales’ south-west. Back-to-back ACL injuries at 23 years of age stalled his progress, but the dream of playing in the NRL didn’t suddenly end; it simply dissipated over time.
A part-time interest since his days at school, golf became Moke’s competitive outlet. After completing shifts working security at 5am, Moke would be on the first tee at Moore Park Golf Club in Sydney’s eastern suburbs by 6:30am, four days a week. He got lessons and, such was his passion for the game, he made enquiries about the PGA’s Membership Pathway Program. However, his handicap was not yet at a level where he could apply to begin the MPP. It was then, with the support and encouragement of his fiancée, that Moke was told of the Golf Performance Program.
A gateway to the MPP, the Golf Performance Program incorporates the first year of associate study with a golf improvement program designed to get the player’s handicap down to the required level. Moke only began the program in July but is already displaying the traits necessary to be successful, those same traits that eluded him as a talented teenage footballer.
“Peewee is a great student to have,” says Michael Cooney, a PGA professional guiding students through the program. “His professional background in rugby league helps because when gym starts at 7:30, he’s there at 7 o’clock doing extras and he’s finishing half an hour later doing extras. It’s the same with his education and with his golf. With everything that he does, there is time, effort and dedication. In that regard, he’s top of the class.”
Given his experience in rugby league and his Samoan heritage, Moke is determined to improve his golf, obtain his PGA qualifications and encourage other Polynesians to take up the game.
“With all of the experience that I have of being in that professional environment – coming up as a junior and knowing the pitfalls that I fell into – I would like to think that if I get the chance to be a coach down the road that I could help a junior coming through and help them to understand what is coming for them,” Moke adds.
“That’s what I see myself doing and I feel like I can help inspire the younger generation. Polynesian kids might not feel that golf is an option for them. If they see someone such as myself, a golf instructor from a similar background, it might inspire them to take it up.”
For more details on the PGA’s Golf Performance Program, visit https://pgaacademy.com.au/golf-performance-program/