Our Famous Members
Bangor has many famous and successful members over the years including:
- David Feherty, professional golfer, tournament winner, Ryder and World cup hero and now a top golf commentator in the US
- Norman Drew professional golfer, winner of many tournaments and played in the Walker cup, Ryder cup and Canada (now World) cup
- Garth McGimpsey, one of the greats of Irish amateur golf with a superb record who also played in the US Masters
- Michael Bannon, our former club pro, a successful player and now coach to one of the best players in the world, Rory McIlroy
- Rory McIlroy, while never a member, Rory, as a young fellow, practised here on a regular basis with Michael Bannon and even today, as a top world player, will still be seen here a number of times during the year perfecting his iron shots.
A few more details of the success of each is set out below.
David Feherty, son of Past Captain Billy Feherty
David joined Bangor Golf Club as a Juvenile in 1968 and 9 years later at the age of nineteen, when he was playing off a 5 handicap, he turned Professional. After a few years as Assistant at various local clubs, he was fortunate to come under the guidance of the late great Fred Daly and was successful in gaining his European Tour Card.
His success as a Tournament player began with victories in the Irish Championships in 1980 and 1981, and between 1983 and 1992 he won nine major tournaments, including the Italian and Scottish Opens in 1986 and the South African PGA and South African Open. In 1989 he won the Ulster Championship with a record low score of 28 under par.
David represented Ireland five times in the Dunhill Cup at St. Andrews and captained the Team to victory in 1990. That same year, playing with Ronan Rafferty, he represented Ireland in the World Cup, finishing in second place. But perhaps his finest hour came in 1991 when he beat Payne Stewart, that wonderful gentleman of golf, in his singles match on the final day of the Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island.
For these achievements he was made an Honorary Member of Bangor Golf Club in 1991. Ranked 38 in the world, David qualified to play at Augusta the following year in the “Masters”. Following his retirement from Tournament golf in 1996 he became a TV commentator and golf analyst at which he has been equally successful.
Joined Bangor as a Juvenile member in 1965. Garth is not only Bangor’s best ever amateur golfer to date, but his record places him alongside the Greats in Irish Amateur golf. His achievements are far too numerous to list completely but a few of the highlights are listed here. In 1974, he was runner-up in the Ulster Youths Championship and was selected to represent Ulster in the Junior Interprovincial Championships. He was again selected for the Junior Ulster Team in 1976 and 1977. Garth was Irish Long Driving Champion in 1977 and 1978 with drives of 320 yards and 287 yards respectively, and in 1979 he won the British Long Driving Trophy, with a drive of 303 yards.
Garth gained the Willie Gill Award for the most consistent player in the Home Championships on three occasions, 1984, 1988, and 1993. He has twice been given the Irish Sports Writer Award, and twice the Bangor Borough Council Sports Personality of the Year Award. Garth won the Amateur Championship at Royal Dornoch in 1985.
Following his victory in the Amateur Championship, Garth was invited to play in the U.S. Masters at the Augusta National, and in 1986 he became the first Ulsterman to do so. He had the unique experience that year of playing with Jack Nicklaus in a practice round on the Tuesday before the Tournament, and with Arnold Palmer in the first round on Thursday, and beating both of them!
He played in the Walker cup on five ocasions and captained the team also on two occasions. The pictures above shows the successful 2003 team and their victorious Captain.
Norman Drew, joined Bangor in November 1949
Norman Drew had an outstanding amateur career, all the more remarkable in that it was achieved in only four years. Norman won the North of Ireland Championship in 1950, and the Irish Amateur Open Championship in 1952. That same year he played in the Home Internationals at Royal Troon, won the East and the North of Ireland Championships and was Runner Up in the West and South of Ireland Championships, losing by 2 and 1, and by one hole in the respective finals. At Killarney in 1953 he played in the Home Internationals again, partnered by the great J.B. Carr in the Foursomes and went on to win the Irish Amateur Open Championship a second time, beating some of the very best English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish Internationals who had been playing in the Home Internationals over the same course immediately beforehand. Norman recorded 8 wins, 2 halves, and 2 losses out of the twelve matches played in the Home Internationals, and in recognition of such an outstanding record the Royal and Ancient honoured him with selection to represent Great Britain and Ireland on the Walker Cup Team against the USA at Kittansett, Massachusetts in 1953. Norman was only the second Ulsterman to achieve this honour.
Norman turned Professional in late 1953 and became Irish Professional Champion in 1959. In the same year he was selected to play for Britain in the Ryder Cup at El Dorado, U.S.A. The following year he played for Ireland in the Canada Cup (now World Cup) at Portmarnock. He therefore became the first golfer on either side of the Atlantic to play in all three events, and was also the first Great Britain and Ireland golfer to have the unique distinction of playing in both the Walker Cup and Ryder Cup teams.
Michael Bannon, joined Bangor as golf pro in 1999
Michael Bannon was the golf professional at Bangor Golf Club for 13 years from 1999 until October 2012 when he left us to work full-time for fellow Northern Irish man and one of the best golfers in the world, Rory McIlroy. Michael worked with Rory, initially at Holywood where Michael was the club professional and Rory, a young member.
When Michael took up the post at Bangor Golf Club, Rory continued to be coached by him and this took place at Bangor ’s practice ground where Rory was a familiar face over the years. This continues to this day and between championships, on trips home, Michael and Rory will be seen down on the practice fairway. Picture below shows them chatting to some keen new golfers.
Michael’s success as a coach has been recognised internationally. In December 2011 he was honoured with a major European coaching accolade, becoming the inaugural winner of the PGA’s of Europe ‘s John Jacobs Coach of the Year award.
Michael had his own success in golfing competition also. He taught himself how to play, turning for guidance only to a well-thumbed edition of ‘Jack Nicklaus: The Best Way to Better Golf’ and by watching better players. He taught himself well, reaching the final of the 1980 Irish Close Championship before losing to the gifted teenager Ronan Rafferty. He also made a playoff with Padraig Harrington at the 1988 Irish Professional Championship.
Bangor Golf Club wish him many more years success in helping Rory win tournaments.