He hails from golfing royalty – uncle Arthur was a Walker Cup player, a four-time championship winner, and British Seniors Amateur champion. Now Jack Pierse is making his mark as co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Wayflyer, the latest Irish tech unicorn, having achieved a valuation of $1.6 billion after just two and a half years.
former West of Ireland runner-up, this young Portmarnock and Grange golfer insists Wayflyer is only on the front nine when it comes to its development. But as the Irish tech start-up sponsors Shane Lowry and looks to continue its phenomenal growth, offering finance and analytics to the rapidly growing e-commerce sector, he remains a great lover of golf.
Not only is it a sport that helps him relax with friends, but it also keeps him dreaming of that elusive amateur “major”.
1. How was your golf? I haven’t played very much for the last couple of years, but I am slowly getting back into it for this summer. I’ve entered the South and the East, so fingers crossed I can get the game in decent shape.
2. How did you get started in the game? Dad‘s family are all very good golfers, but I always say I learned everything I know from my Mum, Trish. She took up the game when I was born, and she used to bring me up to the range when I was still in a buggy, and I’d sit behind her and watch her, so I always tell everyone I learned my good habits from her.
3. Driver or putter? Putter. You drive for show and putt for dough.
4. Links or parkland? Definitely links. We have some of the best links courses in the world, and I spent so much time when I was younger at Lahinch that I just grew to love how a links course can change from one day to the next. I can genuinely say I haven’t played an Irish links course I didn’t like.
5. When were you happiest on the golf course? When I started working at PwC after college, golf became much more enjoyable and the golf course became a place to relax. Nothing quite beats playing 12 holes in Grange on a summer’s evening, followed by a burger and a beer with a few friends. That’s probably when I’m happiest.
6. Who is your sporting hero? Steven Gerrard, the ex-Liverpool player. I’ve been a big Liverpool fan all my life and played a lot of soccer growing up, so he was my idol for years and years.
7. Name a golfer you especially admire and why. Conor Purcell. I always thought he worked so hard, and he has one of the best attitudes I’ve ever seen on the golf course. He was always positive. Nothing bothered him and he never got annoyed. He could hit the shot and forget about it.
8. What’s your golfing ambition? I’ve been thereabouts in a few championships. I was beaten in the final of the West, and I’ve been in the last group in the East a few times, so I’d still love to win an Irish championship. That’s certainly an ambition. If I could qualify for something like The Open one day, that would be an absolute dream.
9. Name your dream fourball. I’d have to pick Tiger Woods, Shane Lowry and then Stevie G. And we’d play the match at Cypress Point. I’ve never played it, but I’ve had a picture of its famous 16th hole on my wall since I was a kid. Underneath it, it says, “Impossible is nothing.”
10. If you could change something about the modern game, what would it be? I’m not someone who ever complains about the modern game. If anything, as some of the pros hit it further and further, a lot of the great, old golf courses have fallen away a little bit. So if there were a way to keep those fantastic courses relevant, that would be wonderful.
11. If I gave you a mulligan in your golfing life, what would it be? I was born in New Zealand and moved back when I was five. Then I lived down there a few years ago. There’s an amazing golf course there called Tara Iti and I got invited up to play and I didn’t because of work, so I’d love to get back there and play.
It’s the only place I’ve had a chance to play that I didn’t. It’s right on the cliffs on the waterfront, and it’s meant to be spectacular.
12. If you had just one more round to play, where would it be? Waterville. I have a holiday home near Waterville, where I’ve been going since I was a kid, and it’s just a beautiful part of the world.
13. What’s your favourite par three? The 15th at Portmarnock. Ben Crenshaw called it the shortest par-five in the world.
14. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I got dodgy hips from my Mum, so probably those.
15. What’s your most treasured possession? Back in 2000, I went down with my uncle Arthur to watch the JP McManus Pro-Am and he ended up getting me a glove signed by Tiger Woods. So I have it in my cupboard at home, hidden away from the sunlight? That’s pretty cool.
16. If you could change something about your golf, what would it be? Hit it straighter and further and hole more putts. Just give me the whole package.
17. Who’s your favourite golfer of all time? Tiger Woods. For anyone around my age, he was the G.O.A.T. growing up. So Tiger for being the best ever.
18. What’s your idea of perfect happiness? It’s a bit of a cliché but spending time with friends and family watching a little bit of sport and playing a few holes somewhere in the sun.