IT'S always nice to pick up the keys to a new car, and it’s even better when you don’t have to pay for it.
Fota Island’s Jack Howard recently got the keys to a new BMW 1 Series car thanks to the Kearys BMW, and the professional golfer is looking forward to hitting the road as the PGA Irish Region events are due to start next week.
Howard is currently studying under the PGA Professional programme and is based in Fota Island Resort.
Needless to say, Howard was delighted to team up with Kearys.
“I am really honoured to be partnered up with Kearys BMW. They came on board at the end of last year and I can’t recommend Kearys enough.”
Keary’s have partnered with Fota Island and are sponsoring the Open Week which takes place in July.
“We at Kearys are delighted to announce our association with Jack and Fota Island and look forward to following his exploits on the golf course,” said Ken O’Neill, Head of Sales Kearys BMW and MINI.
“On behalf of all the team at Kearys BMW and MINI and throughout the group, we hope that Jack enjoys comfortable and safe driving with the all-new BMW 1 Series and we wish him all the best on his professional golfing journey.”
BMW are major sponsors of golf in Europe and Ireland, and Kearys too have recently supported James Sugrue from their Kearys Hyundai dealership in Mallow.
It's fair to say that golf was a big part of life for the Howard family when Jack and his brothers were growing up.
His Dad John and brothers David and Michael have all played for years and they have all competed at a high level.
Two years ago John and David reached the final of the Muskerry Junior Scratch Trophy, with David getting the better of his father.
With all of the boys playing off a low handicap, the family rivalry was always going to be strong.
“I started off playing in Raffeen Creek in the very young stage of my career,” explained Jack. “In 2013 myself, Dave, Michael and my dad John joined Fota.
"John likes to take credit and feels he thought us everything we know, but since starting with the PGA I found I’ve continued to improve steadily each year.”
In between focusing on his studies and the day job in Fota Island, Jack has also managed to fit in several events on the PGA Irish Region.
In his first season in 2019, he had four top tens in his seven tournaments, and he also recorded an impressive second-place finish at the Irish Club Professional Tournament in Dromoland.
In 2020 he went one better and recorded his first PGA win when he topped the leaderboard in the Cahir Pro Am last August.
He also had an impressive final round 63 at Nuremore at the Assistants Championship when he finished in 3rd place.
After a limited schedule last year, Jack is hoping to see a full schedule commence in the coming months.
“I found the PGA events great and really enjoyed the challenge against some great Irish professionals.
"I’m looking forward to getting back to some normality and getting on the golf course. Once the schedule has been confirmed I will look to be as active as I can and hopefully perform well in the tournaments.”
Howard is hoping to complete his PGA qualification later this year.
He’s following the path taken by several other Cork golfers including Davey Barry, Ciaran McKenna and Alan Gleeson.
The degree-level qualification is managed by the PGA and certified by the University of Birmingham and provides education and training in all aspects of the game.
Most of the course modules are now online but there’s also plenty of on-the-job training in the pro shop and in the academy.
"It’s a really work-friendly environment to work in with Director of Golf Kevin Morris, head professional Brian Kelleher and professional Ronan Collins.
"They all have years of experience and give me great advice and guidance with golf. John O’Flynn [General Manager] has done a great job with the resort and is always looking to improve the place.”
This time next week Fota Island will be a very different place.
After four months of no golf, members will hit the fairways on Monday as the Covid restrictions are eased.
Full timesheets are expected for the opening week, with play limited to golf club members only for the first phase of opening.
If last year's four-step plan from Golf Ireland is repeated then it will be another few weeks before non-members can play, but ranges will be open from Monday next.
Last year was a bumper year for memberships with over 10,000 new members joining clubs in Ireland.
2021 could be similar, and Fota Island has two membership options currently available, the full membership option gives golfers access to the 27 holes as well as access to the academy. Associate membership is also very popular and this gives members access to the nine-hole course and the academy.
It’s an ideal option for golfers who are time-limited and want to develop their game.
Fota have a provisional schedule in place for later on in the season and that includes the Kearys BMW Open Week at the end of July and their scratch cups will be held over the August Bank Holiday weekend.