Author: John Gilrain

Rory McIlroy: Primed and Ready for Southern Hills

Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa Oklahoma

With all of the attention on Tiger’s second comeback start, speculation about what Phil has up his sleeve with LIV, and Scottie Scheffler adding a green jacket to his already fantastic 2022 season, Rory McIlroy is once again keeping a low profile as we head toward the PGA Championship. It’s been an eight-year draught for Rory in the major championships, but his game is primed and ready for an assault on Southern Hills—and it really should come as no surprise if he is raising the Wanamaker trophy on Sunday afternoon.

Rory: Primed and Ready

The Early Years (2006-2010)

Rory exploded onto the golf scene all the way back in 2006, when at 17 years old he won the European Amateur Championship and rose to No. 1 in the Amateur World Golf Rankings, earning a place in the field for the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie. Unknown in American circles, he immediately turned heads with a first round 68 (a shot ahead of Tiger), made the cut and took home the Silver Medal as low amateur. Aaron Oberholser, one of the best players on the PGA Tour at the time, was paired with McIlroy on Saturday. When asked what he thought after the round, Oberholser said “I watched him hit his opening tee shot and thought: ‘Man, who is this kid?’ He went on to describe Rory’s approach shot in the cold wind on the 4th hole: “He took the nine, put the ball back in his stance and the shot made a sound I’ll never forget. At that point I’d only ever heard one player make that sound with their irons: Tiger Woods. He just hit it so clean, so crisp and there was so much effortless speed at the bottom of the swing. The way he compressed the ball was unlike anything I’d ever seen apart from Tiger.”

Young Phenom
Image by Irish Golf Desk (https://www.irishgolfdesk.com/)

After competing as a member of the European Walker Cup team at Royal County Down, Rory turned pro and made the cut in 6 of the 8 tournaments he entered on the European Tour that year including two Top-10’s. In 2009 he recorded his first professional win at the Dubai Desert Classic while still a teenager (Rory turned 20 in May of 2009), and showed his pedigree by making the cut in all four major championships, including a T20 at The Masters, a T10 at the U.S. Open and a T3 at the PGA Championship. In 2010 Rory won his first PGA Tour Event at Quail Hollow, and continued his strong play at the majors with a T3 at the Open Championship and another T3 at the PGA.

Domination (2011-2015)

In 2011 Rory began to flex his muscle, adding another European Tour win at the UBS Hong Kong Open, and then followed up with an eight-shot victory in the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, dominating the field. From 2011 through 2015, McIlroy won 4 major championships (2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA, 2014 PGA, 2014 Open Championship), 2 World Golf Championships, 5 European Tour events, and 4 regular PGA tournaments. He also recorded 41 additional worldwide Top 10’s, led the European Tour in scoring average three times (‘11, ‘14, ‘15) and ranked first in scoring on the PGA Tour in scoring average twice (‘12, ‘14). At 26 years old, with 15 worldwide wins including 4 major championships, Rory entered the prime of his career on a pace that would put him with Jack and Tiger—if he could maintain it.

Dominating the Field

Cruise Control (2016-2021)

McIlroy has not won a major since his victory at the 2014 PGA Championship and given his monumental talent, that is almost impossible to believe. Rory is one of the nicest young men you will ever meet, and perhaps that is a contributing factor. Jack and Tiger were both cut from the same cloth, with a singular drive where winning (particularly major championships) was their central focus to the exclusion of just about everything else—and opponents were given no quarter should they foolishly try to stand in the way. Rory is different, he seems to view golf as a friendly game that he loves to play, and his fellow competitors as a bunch of guys that he would like to beat—but if not, well that’s OK too.

While Rory hasn’t recorded any major titles since 2014, his over-all record through the past six years is second only to Dustin Johnson. Since 2016 he has recorded 12 wins (9 PGA Tour and 3 European Tour), 12 Major Top-10’s, 32 PGA Tour Top 10’s, won the FedEx Cup, and made the cut in 87% of the tournaments he entered. For comparison, while Brooks Koepka won 4 majors, he recorded only 3 regular tour wins with 26 Top-10’s, and made the cut in 79% of the tournaments he entered over the same period.

Keep in mind that while Rory has been on tour for a long time, he only just turned 33 this month, and his talent and ability have not diminished in the least—so if he decides to turn off the cruise control and put the pedal to the metal, the field will be scrambling for cover.

Enjoying the Game

The Possibilities

Rory is coming off a runner-up at The Masters, where he closed with a spectacular 64 on Sunday and followed up with a 5th place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship. He currently stands 2nd on tour in scoring average, and 8th in driving distance. The only thing holding Rory back is the putter, where he currently ranks 81st on tour—but that can change in a heartbeat (he ranked 20th in 2021). The level of talent on the PGA may well be the highest it has ever been, with young stars like Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, John Rahm, and Justin Thomas—but if Rory decides to kick it he can tap a gear that only Jack and Tiger ever possessed. And if that happens this week at Southern Hills, the field is in big trouble. Rory looks like he’s ready to go, and it is high time he add a fifth major championship to his resume. It’s also great when nice guys finish first every now and again—and let’s hope it is at the 2022 PGA.

Check out Rory’s swing on the GolfDay YouTube Channel
Image by BBC (https://www.bbc.com/)

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7 Tips for Planning Your First Golf Trip

It’s true that over 80% of golf in the USA takes place near home. Yet, at least 8.2 million golfers enjoyed the sport as part of business or leisure travel at the last count.

So, if you’d like to try something new when it comes to golf, you’re in good company. What’s more, your first golf trip could lead to many in the future if you follow these planning tips.

1. Get a Group Together

Golfing with friends is always better than going it alone. Get your golfing companions on board and get their input and ideas to help you plan your getaway.

The magic number for any trip is always a number that’s divisible by four. Most golf tour organizers swear that eight is the magic number of players for any trip.

It’s a manageable number for arranging flights, tee times, accommodation, and meals. You’ll also manage to play a variety of combinations when it comes to arranging your golf outings.

Arranging the Invitations

Start your planning at least 6 months in advance, as few people will have prior engagements that far ahead.

You want to avoid both hurt feelings by forgetting someone as well as disasters due to people pulling out at the last-minute cancellations. So, it’s best to send out one bulk invitation.

Write up an email with the main details of your trip such as the date and possible destination. Send it to at least 20 people, stating that the first seven people to respond get the spots.

That way you don’t have to choose who goes and who stays. If you end up with more than eight players, you can always put a couple of them on standby in case of cancellations.

2. Getting Organized

Once you’ve got a bunch of like minded people together, figure out between yourselves who’s going to be responsible for which details of the trip.

It’s difficult to get everyone to agree, so set up some ground rules from the start. If you find yourself in charge of this band of brothers, take charge and delegate when needed. Your enthusiasm will soon wane if you’re left doing all the work.

3. Pick a Destination

Fabulous Golf Destinations

There are hundreds of excellent golfing hot spots all over the USA. All of these have their merits, but for starters, you should choose one that’s closest to home.

Some of the country’s most popular golfing destinations include:

  • Myrtle Beach
  • Alabama (Robert Trent Jones golf trail)
  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Florida
  • Wisconsin
  • Oregon

If you’re traveling during the wintertime, be sure to choose a place where you’re likely to enjoy the best golfing temperature instead of freezing cold conditions, wind, or rain.

Florida or California are better choices for winter golfing. Many golf courses in snowy parts of the USA close during the colder months anyway.

4. Choose Your Courses

Choosing golf courses should be easy with so many fantastic ones available, but often this mind-boggling variety is what makes it so difficult.

While it’s always nice to tick the major signature courses off your bucket list, you can still have a lot of fun at lesser-known golf clubs. Getting into the top courses is sometimes difficult due to high demand.

You’ll have a better time if you choose courses that are in line with the skills and experience of the players in your group. That way everyone gets to enjoy a successful round or two.

Following one of the established golf trails makes planning a lot easier, especially for first-timers.

5. Go First Class on Your First Golf Trip

As soon as you’ve decided on a few courses that you’d like to play, book your accommodation. During busy periods you could end up having to travel miles to your chosen course if you don’t book early.

Stick within your golf trip budget but avoid cheap choices. Often you’ll get better value by booking everything through a golf tour agent.

Research your accommodation just as thoroughly as you did your golf courses. You’re bound to come across some hotels that offer group packages for golfers at a discount.

While it’s common to share rooms during a golf trip, everyone will enjoy themselves a lot more if they have their own. When you’re playing, eating, and socializing together all day, it’s good to have somewhere to escape for a little peace and quiet. Having your own space means you won’t get tired of each other’s company by the end of the trip.

Plan your meals carefully so you can afford at least one splurge at a fancy restaurant or a night out on the town during your golf trip.

Another option is to rent a house close to the courses you want to play and take turns cooking. A house offers a lot of freedoms that don’t come with a hotel or B&B accommodation.

6. Plan as Much in Advance as You Can

Apart from your accommodation, you should book your golfing experiences well in advance too. Traveling during the week will make it easier to get a slot on the busier courses, but you should still book ahead to guarantee yourself a game on the day.

You may need to reserve a golf cart or a caddy in advance at some courses. There’s no harm in arranging your meals at the halfway house beforehand either, if possible.

If you’re going to be eating out, call the restaurant long before you arrive so they can set up one table for your whole party. Many restaurants can’t accommodate large groups at short notice.

7. Packing for Your Golf Trip

You don’t want to worry about laundry during your golfing getaway, so pack one golfing outfit for each day.

Be sure to check the dress code of each course beforehand and pack accordingly. Don’t forget to let your teammates know if you come across any important information about how to dress appropriately for each course.

You’ll also need some casual outfits for relaxed times as well as some smarter gear for meals or evenings out.

Above all, make sure your golf bag’s packed with everything you need for your games. You can never have too many extra balls and tees. Most golf courses have a store onsite which stocks the basics as well as the latest clubs, shoes, and golf bag designs.

Get More From Your Golf

You need all the help you can get when planning a golfing adventure away from home. You’ll find our website is full of useful information to help you plan your first golf trip or even your next game.

You can read more of our blog for extra tips, or look up golf courses, golf ratings, and golf routes on our site.

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