The New Gospel of Peter

When there’s food and drink on the line and 145 insurmountable yards to go, lessons will be learned
When bets are made, so are memories—no matter the stakes. Photo by Kohjiro Kinno.

Rewind all the way back to when you started playing golf. When you bought a dozen Noodles and had one left by the third green. You were probably wearing cargo shorts and an off-brand Dri-FIT T-shirt and had no idea how to grip the club. You remember. Then something funny happened: You strung a few crisp shots together. You experienced golf’s singular high. Like the great philosopher Roy McAvoy said, “A tuning fork goes off in your heart. And your balls. Such a pure feeling is the well-struck golf shot.”

You got addicted to that feeling, and you kept coming back. So did Peter. But, as Peter learned, when money, pride and Chick-fil-A are on the line, sometimes that tuning fork can go spectacularly off-key. 

It started on a picturesque afternoon in the Midwest at the local municipal cow pasture. You see, Peter and his friends had just picked up golf; they had been playing all summer. Some were primed to shed their flaky hack cocoon and emerge into serviceable golf butterflies. They had upgraded from Old Navy and lawn shoes to Titleist and Footjoys. Collars even began to appear on their formerly exposed necks. From the outside looking in, they resembled real golfers—until Peter took that 7-iron back on No. 8 and launched a hosel rocket through an unassuming house window alongside the tee box.

Adrenaline was still surging through Peter—a giant of a young man—as the group progressed to the par-3 16th. Upon arrival, Garrett laid down the gauntlet: Farthest from the pin buys dinner for the group at Chick-fil-A. A tee was tossed to determine who would hit first. Erik slowed his tempo and landed safely on the far right side of the green. Garrett went a little long, nestling in the back bunker. Chris wiped a weak fade that somehow settled close to the right side of the green.

The stage was clear for Peter to redeem himself. Just hit the green from 145 short yards. Back, back, back went his club. But, somewhere along the way, Peter traded his 9-iron for a backhoe and dug a crater so deep that future course architects may enlist him as a shaper. As he glared at his ball, mere yards away, it was unclear if Peter’s face was red from burning anger or if it had been seared by the Earth’s core he had just exposed.

As Peter struggled to regain his composure, the rest of the group completely lost theirs. Side-splitting laughter. Tears rolling. Fingers pointing. Peter finally called for silence. Then, like Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy, Peter bellowed, “DOUBLE OR NOTHING!” The laughter stopped. “If I’m closer to the pin than any of you, the bet’s off. But if I’m farthest away again, no Chick-fil-A—I’ll pay for real dinner, drinks and dessert.” Erik, Chris and Garrett couldn’t shout “Deal!” fast enough as they scurried to their bags to reload.

Same order. Erik missed the green, long left. Garrett landed three paces off in front. Chris hit the fringe. Again, the green was wide open. A hush fell over the group; the only sound was a slight breeze rippling the water in front. Just 145 yards to end the nightmare.

Back, back, back went Peter’s club. This time, the ball reached a safe traveling height, sailing on a beautiful trajectory toward the promised land. Up, up up, it went, and up farther still, as a strong gust whooshed across the water and past the group’s faces. The ball paused in midair. Then, the nosedive. The ball, along with Peter’s hopes and dreams, met the water with a grandiose sploosh. He could only watch as his NoodlePro+ and his dignity sank to the bottom of the pond.

Peter’s wallet wasn’t the only thing that took a hit that night, but if you ask him, he wouldn’t have it any other way (well, other than that window-exploding hosel rocket). The memories and laughs far outweighed the dollars and cents. And there he was just days later, back on the course with the group, collars in place, tuning forks up.