Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy returns home to open Holywood Academy
Rory McIlroy yesterday returned to Holywood Golf Club to officially open a new state-of-the-art Academy, following a considerable financial donation.
The Academy includes a new gym, five hitting bays, three TrackMans and two HD Golf Simulators, which between them have more than 60 courses around the globe available.
Starting in January, Holywood GC will be offering an Overseas Membership category for golfers to join Rory's home club and take advantage of full member benefits.
This will include playing privileges, use of the indoor simulators, individual golf lessons from the professional coaching staff, personal fitness screening from the new strength & conditioning facility and monthly ezine communication from the club listing tips and tricks from the Academy team.
Being part of Rory's home club has never been so easy.
McIlroy said: "Holywood Golf Club has been a very important part of my life as it's where it all began for me.
"I spent so much time here and have many fond memories, so to be able to give something back is important.
"The new facilities are unbelievable and I'm delighted that all members will be able to benefit from the new technology. It's more than a golf club now. It's been a few years in the making so it's great to be home for Christmas and see the finished product."
Jonny Caren, the club's General Manager said: "It was a very special day to have Rory back home in Holywood where it all began for him as a junior, opening our state-of-the-art performance academy.
"It was amazing to watch the junior competition winners as they were coached by Rory and Michael in the facility. It will undoubtedly leave a legacy for the next crop of young aspiring junior golfers coming through our youth system.
"Holywood Golf Club is eternally grateful for all of Rory's support that has helped set the club apart from every other golf club in the country, providing a facility second to none to the local Holywood community.
"It has allowed us to open the doors to welcome our new overseas membership category, for everyone to experience the history and the home of one of the world's leading golfers."
A competition run with GOLFPASS in conjunction with NCBC Sports and GOLF Channel also saw three young golfers take part in a pop-up golf clinic with McIlroy and his lifetime coach, Michael Bannon.
The junior golfers, Kate Fleming, 13, from Elm Park GC, Dublin, Ed Tomsett, 15, from Chippenham GC, Wiltshire and Anya McKenzie, 17, from Eden GC, Cumbria, were also given the opportunity to challenge McIlroy in a closet-to-the-pin contest and received signed merchandise.
Over 2,000 nominations were received for young golfers from golf clubs across the UK and Ireland but just three lucky winners got the chance to meet, compete and learn with Rory at his home club. The final three, chosen by a judging panel, represented a range of backgrounds and abilities.
Anya McKenzie worked her way up from being the only female junior at her first club to become an ambassador for England Golf. Ed Tomsett took up the game just this year as a way to cope with mental illness and is already a 17 handicaper. Kate Fleming has already earned a place on the Ireland U16 Girls team at just 13 years of age.
McIlroy is the founder of GOLFPASS and partners with NBC Sports and GOLF Channel on content and promotion. GOLFPASS was launched in the UK and Ireland in June. The membership is designed to make golf more accessible and fun for every golfer via perks and benefits delivered across five pillars - Play, Learn, Shop, Travel and Watch - which are the most-frequent ways golfers engage with the sport.