Brian Keogh

Yates ready for Alps ascent (with a little help from his friends)

Brian Keogh
Yates ready for Alps ascent (with a little help from his friends)
Jonathan Yates in action for Ireland. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Jonathan Yates in action for Ireland. Picture: Pat Cashman

Winning an amateur "major" is no guarantee of future success but for Naas' Jonathan Yates, support from his club could make all the difference as he takes his first steps on the Alps Tour this year.

Three years have passed since the 25-year old UCD graduate lifted the West of Ireland trophy at Rosses Point and after pulling on the green jersey last year he's got a card for the third tier tour in his back pocket and enthusiasm to burn.

Making ends meet for the next year or two so he can concentrate on his golf is the next step and Yates is hugely grateful to Naas Golf Club, its members and his wider circle of friends in golf that he will have chance to raise much-needed financial support when he hosts the "Jonathan Yates Golf Day" at the Kildare club on Friday, April 12.

Sponsored by Vista Primary Care, a big turnout would help him put a big hole in the minimum, €20,000 year cost of playing on a tour that awards Challenge Tour cards to the top five money winners every year.

Whether he becomes the next Matt Wallace — who won six times in Alps Tour in 2016 and is now the world No 37— remains to be seen. 

But Yates — Jonny to his friends — is determined to give himself every chance and after finishing tied second in his first start of the year in Egypt two weeks ago, he's got high hopes.

Jonny Yates is hosting a golf day at Naas on April 12 (Masters Friday)

Jonny Yates is hosting a golf day at Naas on April 12 (Masters Friday)

"I leave on March 21 for three more events in Egypt and then I have the golf day at Naas on April 12 before heading off to Italy, Spain and Austria," he said.

"The idea is to get a little bit of backing so I don’t have to worry about finance for a year or two. So far the feedback has been great and I am looking forward to giving people a great experience on the day and making the most of it and the rest of the year."

Yates will be joining fellow Naas man Conor O'Rourke on the Alps Tour and both enjoy a strong bond with their coach, the Naas professional Gavin Lunny.

"It’s great to have that relationship," Yates said. "He can look at me and know straight away what needs to be done. 

"I have been concentrating on my statistics to get away from results and identifying areas of my game that needed some work. You can’t hide from the numbers and having just gone through my results and I can see the next steps that have to be taken.

"From 100-120 yards I am way worse than I expected. Everywhere else looks really good. 

"From 80-100 yards I am hitting it to 11 feet but from 100-120 it's 29 feet so there's a big shift there in a 20-yard gap that I am looking to change right now."

If he gets some backing from Team Ireland Golf, he may be able to add some Challenge Tour invitations to his schedule but the goal remains the Alps Tour money list.

"My goal is to finish in the top-5 at the end of the year so to get up there early is nice," added the Geography and Sociology graduate, who is fourth in the money list. 

"If some Challenge Tour invitations come up and they don’t clash with Alps Tour events, I will take them when I can.  It's important to watch fatigue so I am keeping a close eye on my schedule.

"If you miss a few Alps Tour events you can find yourself playing catch up and travelling takes its toll.

"It's such a fickle game that it’s hard to plan too far ahead but I have a plan for the next three to five years and I know that Q-School is often the fastest route.

"I want to the First Stage of the Q-School last year and missed out by two shots in Portugal so I will be back there this year. As we saw with Robin Dawson getting through last year, it's the fastest track to the Challenge Tour and the European Tour."

Yates is grateful to Irish clothing company Druids Golf for their support and Vista Primary Care, who are the main sponsors of  "The Jonathan Yates Golf Day" at Naas Golf Club on Friday, April 12. 

A four-person team event with morning and afternoon shotgun starts, the team fee is €500 with tee box sponsorship costing €100.

Call or email Paddy Kavanagh (087-2565322 or pmkav202020@gmail.com) or visit naasgolfclub.com for more details.