Aussie golfer Ryan Peake has turned his life around to go from being an outlaw bikie serving time for assault to a tournament-winning rising star – and he couldn’t have done it without an amazing letter that reached him in jail.
The 29-year-old started swinging a golf club when he was 10, immediately displayed a lot of natural talent and was winning plenty of trophies by the time he was a teenager.
Nobody could predict that by age 21 he’d be a fully-patched member of the Rebels outlaws motorcycle club, wildly out of shape and serving a five-year prison sentence for assault.
Now Peake has sensationally opened up about the life journey that saw him win a golf tournament while he was on day release from jail.
Ryan Peake became a fully patched member of the Rebels at age 21. Soon after he was sentenced to five years in jail over an assault
By 2019 his life-altering turnaround was well underway as he won a golf tournament while on day release from prison (pictured)
At age 16 in 2009 he came second at both the South Australian Junior Masters and Tasmania’s Tamar Valley Junior Cup.
He then won the Tasmanian Junior Open Championship and was that year’s Srixon Junior Champion and West Australian junior champion.
The next year he partnered with reigning British Open champion Cam Smith to win the Trans-Tasman series in New Zealand.
‘He would stay at my house whenever there were events in Perth because he lived in Queensland,’ Peake told The West Australian.
‘From what you see on TV now he is exactly how he was when we grew up. He hasn’t changed except he now has a mullet and $200million.’
Peake went on to compete in the Australian Open at age 17 alongside players like Fred Couples, Greg Norman and Adam Scott.
Peake played alongside reigning British Open champion Cam Smith as a youngster – and even competed at the Australian Open
The West Aussie decided to turn pro at age 19 and it didn’t work out. Peake felt he couldn’t cut it at the highest level and decided to give up.
He started drinking heavily and his weight ballooned from 95kg to 130kg.
‘I didn’t know what I was going to do. I felt I had let everyone down,’ admitted Peake.
Peake knew a couple of Rebels bikies, and started hanging out with them more after he quit playing golf. He loved spending time with the club and became a fully patched member aged 21.
‘There is nothing else in the world like that feeling. I can’t describe how much pride I felt to be wearing the colours and knowing I had earned the right to be there,’ he said.
Peake had several brushes with the law – but the most serious came in 2014 when he and other Rebels members assaulted a man they believed had threatened to shoot them.
Peake first picked up a golf club at age 10 when his dad started work as a greenskeeper. He showed incredible talent straight away and quickly had success on the course
‘I was standing on the driveway when the garage door started going up,’ said Peake.
‘This guy runs out and he’s lifted his shirt and I’ve seen this brown thing. I didn’t know what it was but I dropped him.’
Peake was arrested and sent to Hakea Prison in Perth’s south-east, where he started serving a five-year sentence, just four years after being named WA Golfer of the Year.
‘For the whole first year at Hakea I didn’t see my mum. She wanted to come but I didn’t want her to see me like that,’ he recalled.
While Peake was in prison (pictured right) he received a note from legendary golf coach Ritchie Smith, who coaxed him back to the sport once more
‘I was a mess but I started running. At first I couldn’t do more than a quarter of a lap of the oval before I had to start walking.’
A short time later he received a note and phone number from well-known golf coach Ritchie Smith, who had heard about Peake’s predicament.
‘I rang Ritchie and he said to me that he’d heard what had happened and asked me what I was going to do. I said I was thinking about an electrical apprenticeship.
‘He went quiet. Then he said, “What about golf?”.
‘I had two years left on my sentence and I decided I was going to do it. When I watched tournaments on TV I started feeling a real competitive streak.
Peake quit the Rebels motorcycle club and started training again – winning a club competition on day-release
‘I knew I had to quit [the Rebels bikie club]. I was being housed with other guys in the club and I ran the idea past them.
‘As soon as I told them they said I should go for it. That’s why I will never turn my back on these guys. They genuinely wanted what was best for me.’
Peake served the last year of his sentence at the Wooroloo prison farm, where he was allowed home visits and 12 hours of freedom every fortnight.
He remembers the first time he was allowed back on a driving range while on day release – after not holding a golf club in seven years.
‘My swing felt terrible and it came off the club like a brick,’ he laughed.
Unbelievably, Peake won the Lakelands club competition on his third day release from jail.
Peake (pictured at Narembeen Golf Club) won the 2019 Aglime of Australia Sand Greens Championship of Western Australia
‘I was standing there making my speech and I ended it by saying, “I hope you enjoy your night but I’m back off to jail”.’
Peake was released in May 2019 and now has a fly-in, fly-out job that gives him time to work on his game.
He knows his chances of making it to the very top are slim, but he’s giving it his best shot.
‘I am watching the guys playing at the moment and I know I can beat them if I just had more time with the clubs. I’m not going out that easy. This time it’s for me.’
Peake (pictured at Narembeen Golf Club in 2019) knows his chances of making it back to the very top are slim, but he’s giving it his best shot
Coach Smith admires the courage the former bikie has shown as he puts his life back together.
‘This guy was very good. When I say very good, I mean Cameron Smith-level good,’ Smith said.