Rory McIlroy may be a world-renowned golfer, but he comes from humble beginnings in Northern Ireland. His parents, Gerry and Rosie McIlroy, worked multiple jobs to be able to afford Rory’s golfing expenses. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Rory was holding a golf club before he could walk, and driving the ball 40 yards when he was two years old. His parents saw something special in him, and wanted to give him the best chance possible to succeed at golf.
His parents sacrifice is not lost on Rory who spoke with the Belfast Telegraph about how much he respects his parents.
“The support of my parents has been incredible – even growing up and doing everything, the sacrifices they made for me,” Rory told the Belfast Telegraph. “Even to this day, they’re the two people in this world that I can talk to about anything; I couldn’t ask to have two better parents. They’re there for me at the worst of times, like this time last year after missing the cut, or the best of times, walking off as the champion golfer of the year. I can’t speak highly enough of my parents. They’re the best people in the world.”
Rory knows there may be a certain perception of professional golfers, but would like for fans to think of him as a regular person.
“Sometimes I feel like I live two different lives,” Rory told Today’s Golfer. “I live this life that you see in front of cameras, playing golf and being the Rory that millions of people see across the world, but the Rory that I’m probably most comfortable being is Rory amongst his friends, amongst his family, back home. How I’ve been raised has kept me very grounded.”
Get to know Rory’s parents and the family that keeps him grounded.
1. Rory Is From Holywood, Northern Ireland
Rory grew up in Holywood, Northern Ireland where he honed his golf skills at the Holywood Golf Club, the same place where his father worked as a barman. Rory spoke with Today’s Golfer about his strong sense of place, and what it was like growing up in Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland is a little bit like a village in that way,” Rory told Today’s Golf. “It’s obviously a country with nearly two million people, but at the same time it feels like anywhere I go I’ll run into someone I’ve met along the way, and no one lets me get above my station. People are very proud of me, but they’ll never let me forget where I’m from. There’s a ‘if you work hard, you’ll succeed’ mentality so people are genuinely happy for you when you succeed. But there is also a bit of a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality.”
According to the Irish News, the family put Rory’s modest childhood home up for sale year ago, and it was put up for sale again in 2017 with an asking price which is equivalent to $338,000. The home included a putting green that Rory’s parents built for him to practice.
2. Rory’s Mom, Rosie, Stayed Home During the Day for Rory & Worked Nights at the 3M Factory For Rory’s Golf Travel Expenses
Rory’s parents did not have a lot of money, but they saw something special in Rory’s golfing ability. They wanted to help him follow his dreams, which meant taking on extra jobs to help pay for all the expenses associated with Rory’s golfing.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Rosie wanted to be home during the day for Rory, but she worked at a 3M factory during the night. The money went towards taking Rory to Junior Golf Championships all over the world. Rory’s Uncle Michael (Rosie’s brother) spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about the sacrifices of Rory’s parents.
“They didn’t have a lot of money and Rosie and Gerry both worked very hard and Rosie worked nights all the time to get the money together to support Rory,” Michael explained to the Belfast Telegraph. “They wanted to do it because he loved it so much and they wanted to give him every opportunity they could but they never pushed him into it. Rosie is a brilliant mum but she was also strict with Rory. She wouldn’t have given him everything and anything he wanted. He was brought up very well by both parents and if he did anything wrong Rosie wasn’t afraid to ground him. She gave him boundaries. She is a great mum.”
3. Rory’s Dad, Gerry, Worked 2 Jobs as a Cleaner & Barman to Help Pay for Rory’s Golf Training
Rory’s father also took on extra work to help with some of Rory’s expenses. The Belfast Telegraph detailed Gerry juggling two jobs as a cleaner and barman.
Gerry worked from 8am until noon as a cleaner at a sports club and then from noon to 6pm as barman in Holywood Golf Club where, after going home for tea with Rory and Rosie, he returned to work from 7pm until midnight.
Rory would often follow his father to work on Saturdays. He would practice hitting golf balls nearby, but he would also get put to work at the bar.
“When I was growing up, my dad worked at a sports club and on Saturdays I would go there with him,” Rory told Today’s Golfer. “At the end of the club, there was a bar top with a little hole in it, a little hole about six-inches wide. I’d bring my wedge and I’d try to chip balls into that hole from maybe 20 yards away. I had a lot of Saturdays like that, which were good fun — and at the same time, I learned how to pack a bar and pull a pint. You get to this state where you’re very nostalgic about certain aspects of your life and what’s important to you.”
4. Rosie Attends the Masters & British Open While Gerry Attends the Other 2 Majors
Rory’s parents don’t go to all of Rory’s tournaments, but they do attend the four majors. Gerry and Rosie have an annual arrangement where they split up the attendance “duties”. Rosie goes to the Masters and British Open while Gerry attends the other two majors.
Rosie prefers to remain out of the spotlight, but has been known to meet Rory on the green after a big win. Rory’s Uncle Michael noted his sister does not want the attention.
“I was very surprised to see Rosie going onto the green,” Michael told the Belfast Telegraph. “She is so shy but I was so glad to see it. She deserved to be there. She is a wonderful mum.”
5. During the 2011 Masters, Rory’s Father Went to Watch the Final Round at Rory’s House Because His Mother Was So Stressed
Rosie may not want the attention, but that doesn’t mean she does not worry during Rory’s tournaments. After Rory lost his lead in the 2011 Masters, it was Rory who was consoling his mother after the loss. According to the Belfast Telegraph, her nerves caused Gerry to go watch the final round at Rory’s house in Moneyragh as he watched his dogs. Rosie spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about her mood as well as her conversation with Rory after the disappointing Masters loss.
My sister was with me all weekend but she had tickets for a concert, I think it was Robbie Williams, so off she went. I had cabin fever, I was so nervous about the final round. So I went out and drove over to the other side of Belfast to get my favourite pizza. But I could only eat one slice of it, my stomach just closed up. I couldn’t eat…
I actually didn’t speak to him until the following day. He rang me in the afternoon. I was more upset than he was, I think. He said: ‘Mum, it’s only a game of golf. That’s the way it goes’.