Meet the 12-year-old who is the envy of golfers worldwide as he not only shot his first hole-in-one but achieved the rare feat of having a sub-60 score in the same round!
Playing in the final event of the year on the Irish Junior Golf Tour at Ballycastle on Thursday, Mayo’s John William Burke had a sensational round, shooting an incredible 12-under 59 and he capped off the day with his first-ever ace, which was made even more impressive as it came on a par-four!
“I didn’t really over-react but I was obviously really happy,” smiles John William, who plays at Ballyhaunis off a handicap of 7.4.
“I fist-bumped my playing partners and then I reacted a bit with my dad. I was trying not to over-react on the outside but I was really happy on the inside!”
Since the tournament is played by teenagers, the tees are moved quite a bit forward to encourage lower scores, with Ballycastle’s yardage reduced to around 3,670 yards.
That shouldn’t take away from John William’s outstanding performance, though, as he won by nine shots thanks to a round that, as well as the hole-in-one, included back-to-back eagles on the back nine and five birdies.
The hole-in-one came on the 170-yard fifth, a well-struck wood bouncing just short of the green and then hopping into the hole, while the eagles, which came at the 14th and 15th, were memorable too, when John William holed out from 50 metres and then drained a 45-footer.
That left him needing a birdie down the final hole to break the 60 mark and he duly delivered, much to his delight and that of his dad, John.
“I’ll probably save the ball and write down that it was my first hole in one and put it on the shelf,” adds John William. “I was allowed to keep the scorecard so I’ll be putting that somewhere.”
It is a case of practice makes perfect for the 12-year-old, who has won 13 events across various junior tours this year as well as the order of merit on all of them, and it is down to that dedicated work ethic that he has done so.
Waking up every day at 5am, he’s either down to Ballyhaunis to practice or — when the weather gets a bit wild and windy — he stays at home and either uses his own SkyTracker simulator or putting green in the house.
His exploits have even been picked up popular golf YouTuber Rick Shiels, who invited John William to a live recording of his podcast earlier in the year and tweeted his congratulations after the sub-60 round on Thursday.
But there’s nothing like getting the chance to cut his teeth against others on the golf course, and John William hails the impact the Irish Junior Golf Tour and the U.S. Kids Tour have had on the development of his game.
“They’re very important because when you’re playing longer courses it’s harder to develop. All you’re hitting are drivers and woods,” he points out.
“But if you hit drivers and irons then it’s more fun and you’re able to develop more parts of your game during rounds.
“It’s more enjoyable and more competitive, so I prefer them.”