Hilarity ensues when Rory McIlroy battles a swing robot | Fully Equipped

Gene Parente recalled the time Rory McIlroy took on his swing robot in a hilarious competition.

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There have been moments during Rory McIlroy’s career where it’s felt as if we were watching a robot lay waste to the field with cold, calculated precision. Perfect drives. Precise iron shots. Center-cut putts.

When McIlroy is well and truly “on,” it’s a thing of beauty to behold.

Years ago, McIlroy put his robot-esque swing to the test in a head-to-head battle against Golf Laboratories’ swing robot to determine if the four-time major winner could topple a machine. Fully Equipped co-host and Golf Laboratories founder Gene Parente was on hand to watch the competition unfold and offered some behind-the-scenes color from the shoot.

The goal of the competition was to hit the ball into several washing machines dotting the range — a nod to McIlroy honing his skills by chipping balls into the drum of the washing machine as a child.

Of all the targets Rory and the robot tackled, the final one produced the seminal moment for Parente as the two took dead aim at a washing machine situated 75 feet in the air.

“The funny backstory on that is we hit it into the cylinder on the first shot,” Parente recalled on the podcast. “We’re talking a washing machine at 150 yards and 75 feet in the air. It was just random luck, but we hit it in. Rory turned to me and gave me the dirtiest look. I talked to the director afterward, and [Rory] thought he was being scammed, that this was a prank.”

Moments later, Parente watched as McIlroy’s demeanor switched.

“I saw the competitor in him,” he said. “He dropped 10 golf balls — we were supposed to be hitting alternate shots — and hit one in that washing machine. It was so wild to see. You just realize why these guys are elite athletes and apex predators. They don’t like to be shown up, even by a robot.”

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.