Golf clubs would pay a lot of money to attract Rory McIlroy. So nul points for marketing acumen then to Royal Eastbourne Golf Club after politely turning down a request to allow the world No 2 use their practice ground a couple of weeks ago.
As always, there was method to their madness - good old British practicality and helpfulness - but is still beggars belief that such an opportunity went abegging.
According to the Eastbourne Herald, McIlroy was in town to support girlfried Caroline Wozniacki in the AEGON International at Devonshire Park last month and needed a place to hit some balls. Alas…
The agent contacted the Royal and the club advised their practice area was probably too small for McIlroy due to the huge distances he hits the ball, so suggested the East Sussex National in Uckfield instead.
[Club secretary] Mr [David] Lockyer said, “We would have welcomed Rory McIlroy with open arms. The fact is he would have been reaching the 11th fairway on our practice area.
“The rumour mill created a few different versions of events but we had dealings with his agent, we gave him good advice and we were thanked for our assistance.”
Royal Eastbourne has had some prestigious members, including former British Amateur champion Cyril Tolley, who the club website informs us was …
…. also famed for losing at the 19th by a ‘stymie’ to the legendary Bobby Jones in 1930, the year that Jones achieved the Grand Slam of Open and Amateur Championships in both Britain and the USA.