Rory McIlroy promotes new app after drop-in from NHL commissioner

After NBC Sports touted Rory McIlroy as the network’s successor to Arnold Palmer and praised him for his celebrity and grace, the Irishman showed why he was tapped to be the face of GolfPass — during a surprise appearance by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

McIlroy, who teamed up with Golf Channel for the new paid-subscription service for all golfers, was speaking to media members at a private luncheon at Del Frisco’s in Midtown when Bettman crashed the meeting and fell starstruck in meeting the PGA pro.

Bettman poked his nose into the wine cellar room to talk to McIlroy about Rickie Fowler’s bizarre triple-bogey at the Waste Management Open on Sunday. Despite holding a side conversation in front of everyone, McIlroy remained composed and explained why he was in Manhattan — to promote GolfPass, which launched Tuesday.

“It’s sort of like, for me, Golf Channel 2.0,” McIlroy said.

At its core, GolfPass strives to be a Netflix and Amazon Prime combination for golfers. The subscription-based service, which costs $9.99 per month or $99 for a year subscription, wants to encourage subscribers to play more golf while enjoying other amenities such as access to video of historic rounds and discounted merchandise.

Members will be able to tap into more than 4,000 instructional videos from golf’s top coaches, including exclusive video lessons featuring McIlroy. In addition, each membership comes with one round of golf at 26 participating courses around the world, including Royal Portrush Golf Club, the site of this year’s The Open in Northern Ireland.

Gary Bettman
Gary BettmanNHLI via Getty Images

Other perks include custom coaching plans from instructors and $100 in travel credits that can be used at top resorts. Members also will get discounts on apparel and other golf equipment.

GolfPass also will contain an enhanced video library of historic rounds that taps into Golf Channel’s archive.

“You care about your game more than you care about anybody else’s game,” NBC Sports golf president Mike McCarley said. “What we’ve done is we’ve built a business around this lifestyle.”

McIlroy said it was his way of giving back. He’s been involved in the project for 18 months to help develop the service for golfers.

He will co-host a podcast with avid golfer and “TODAY” host Carson Daly. McIlroy also stars in an original 12-part instructional series in which he and his lifetime instructor, Michael Bannon, run through drills and provide tips like mastering a bunker.

“We don’t want people sitting on the app watching Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnie [Palmer] play golf,” McIlroy said. “You want them to go out and play golf. That’s the real reason to be a member because it makes it easier to go out there and play.”

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