McIlroy writes to Banbridge GC

Banbridge golfers could be teeing it up at next year's Irish Open. Pic: Presseye

Banbridge golfers could be teeing it up at next year's Irish Open. Pic: Presseye

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Rory McIlroy has written a letter to the members of Banbridge Golf Club.

Europe’s Race to Dubai Champion has issued a ‘call to action’ to the club’s members, urging them to embrace this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and help make it one of ‘the best ever.’

McIlroy is determined to maintain the Irish Open’s position as one of the premier events in the world of golf and he has penned a letter, detailing his five point plan of how Banbridge golfers can get involved at The K Club in County Kildare from May 19-22.

And that could even see three local golfers tee it up alongside the world’s leading golfers at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro–Am.

Rory is asking clubs all over Ireland to use existing club competitions to find a Men’s and Ladies’ champion who will then go on to represent their club in regional qualifiers with a national final to be held at The K Club.

The winning club will then receive a team invitation to play in the Pro-Am, courtesy of title sponsor Dubai Duty Free. The final spot in the team will go to an official nominated by the winning club.

Other features of Rory’s plan include a nationwide skills challenge for junior club members to develop their key golfing skills, special offers to encourage clubs to enjoy travelling to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open by coach or as a group, and personalised incentives from Rory in the form of signed memorabilia to proudly display in the clubhouse.

“The Irish Open has always been very close to my heart but I would love this year’s event to be even more special as it will once again be hosted by the Rory Foundation,” said Rory.

“I am extremely proud to come from these shores and we are truly blessed with loads of great, accessible courses which I have no doubt have played a big part in Ireland punching well above its weight with the exceptional golfing talent we have produced, north and south, over the years.

“I want the entire golfing world to know this and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is the perfect vehicle as it showcases the quality of our golf courses to more than quarter of a billion homes around the globe. With this in mind, I’m determined to make sure that the Irish Open, which has grown tremendously in recent years, maintains its current status as one of the best events in world golf,” he added.

“We can achieve this if we all pull together, which is why I’m asking clubs to embrace this year’s event, get involved and help make it one of the best ever. I’m really looking forward to working with our golf clubs to promote what I believe is one of the best tournaments on the professional circuit - in one of the best golfing destinations in the world.”

There are already plenty of reasons why this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is shaping up to be one of the best, including a record prize fund of €4 million which is sure to attract some of golf’s most exciting players.

In addition, having officially hosted a sell-out Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down last year, 2016 is the first year that Rory will be hosting a tournament south of the border, through his charity the Rory Foundation. A portion of all tickets sales this year will go towards the Foundation which was established by McIlroy in 2013 to help children live better lives by raising funds and offering support to children’s charities around the world.

RORY’S FIVE-POINT PLAN

1) Play in the Pro-Am competition – The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Club Challenge

2) The Irish Open Skills Challenge - to encourage young golfers to be the best that they can be, Rory has teamed up with Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) and The European Tour to encourage golf clubs to take part in this competition which is designed to help children under the age of 15 to develop their Putting, Chipping, Iron Play and Driving skills in a team environment.

Rory is asking every club in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to enter an U15 Boys’ team and an U15 Girls’ team in the provincial qualifiers, with four players per team – each specialising in one of the four particular skills. The four individual skill scores are combined to make up a final team score and the winning team from the national final will win a unique ‘meet and greet’ opportunity with a top player at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am. Full details on how to enter will be available at www.golfnet.ie.

3) Get Into Golf With Rory – one of Rory’s key aims this year is to encourage children who have never picked up a club to take an interest in golf. So he has joined forces with the CGI to develop an exciting new schools programme called Get Into Golf With Rory. Throughout the country, more than 30 clubs have been selected to run a five-week primary school coaching programme with follow-on activities and membership packages. Schools have yet to be selected but the overall aim of the programme is to offer thousands of primary school pupils the opportunity to get their first taste of golf and create a pathway to continue golf in their local golf club. Full details on the Get Into Golf With Rory programme will be available at www.golfnet.ie.

4) Group deals for Clubs – from his early days at Holywood Golf Club, Rory has always loved the camaraderie and community spirit of golf clubs so this year he is encouraging clubs to enjoy the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open experience as a club. To help with this, the European Tour and Rory have created a number of special ticket and coach offers that are exclusive to golf clubs. So hop on board – and why not bring the family too for a great day out! What’s more, Rory will give the top four clubs who bring the most members as a group a personally signed Pin Flag to proudly display in their clubhouse! Details on how clubs can travel as a group to this year’s Irish Open will be available at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com.

5) Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Club Ambassadors – it takes someone very special to bring these ideas together for the club so Rory is asking every golf club in Ireland to nominate one individual as its Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Ambassador who will be the main point of contact for all of these proposed club initiatives – and all things relating to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Clubs wanting to nominate their Ambassador should email kate@cgigolf.org.