Rory McIlroy’s coach: This is the biggest mistake golf parents make

Michael Bannon works with Rory McIlroy before a round.

Michael Bannon works with Rory McIlroy before a round.

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It’s easy to forget that at one point in time, not all that long ago, Rory McIlroy was just a kid on a driving range, learning the game, a precious talent that was yet to be realized. Cultivating a junior golfer so they learn to excel at the game they love is an exceedingly delicate task, and that’s exactly the topic McIlroy’s longtime coach, Michael Bannon, speaks to in his new nine-episode series “Breaking Into The Game: Juniors,” which is available exclusively on Golf Channel’s GolfPass.

The show itself is certainly one worth watching in its entirety. Bannon draws on his wisdom from teaching McIlroy from a junior to the star he is today, explaining everything from his philosophy toward teaching juniors, to the more exacting details about how to help them create swing speed and improve their putting.

Bannon with a young McIlroy.

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Ahead of the show’s launch, our Dylan Dethier sat down with Bannon for an episode of The Drop Zone podcast, where he talked about his new series and about how he helped develop McIlroy into the player he is today.

It’s packed with delicious anecdotes, but my favorite part was Bannon explaining one of the biggest mistakes golf parents make: Trying to take too much control themselves, instead of handing them over to a coach that they trust.

Find a golf coach you trust, and let them take the reigns

It’s not always easy for a parent who wants the best for their golf-loving junior to hand the keys over to a coach, but Bannon explains how that was one of Gerry McIlroy’s masterstrokes:

“His dad handed him over to me, Rory needed his clubs re-gripped,” Bannon said. “I told him I needed to take about five or six inches off the clubs. I explained: ‘Well, they don’t fit him. They need a junior’s grip on them, too.’ His dad sort of looked at me and said, ‘Right, you know more than I do, you look after him.'”

Bannon continued:

“It’s very, very similar to the way we do today. I’ll get a couple of little hints about what’s going wrong. I’ll share my advice. Rory will go away and fix it, and come back later for another check-in. It’s very simple.”

It’s not easy, entrusting the stewardship of your child’s golf career, but do your research, find a good coach, and it could be the best decision you ever made.

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is an English-American who oversees the brand’s service journalism content across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms. An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. Following graduation, he spent two years as a digital editor at Golf Digest before spending three years as a Senior Editor at USA Today.