At the top of the Loughview Estate in Holywood there is a cul de sac that has a lane that leads to the Demesne Road, and from there, with a wedge in your hands, you can reach the local golf club.
That cul de sac is Wood End; a street in which I grew up with the McIlroys, a family that spanning several generations has had golf running through its veins.
Jimmy was the father of the house – married to Eva – and they had a daughter and three sons, with Gerry the oldest of the boys.
We moved to that street in the early seventies; a forced evacuation from east Belfast where our family found itself – like so many other families in that turbulent period – in the wrong place at the wrong time.
My interest in sport was athletics and I used to run the perimeter of that golf course up on the hills overlooking Belfast Lough.
The tranquility of that place seemed miles removed from the horrors of the seventies and a conflict that was at its height; and, where I ran, the McIlroys played.
They know every inch of that course that stretches from Hazel Wood, down Nuns Walk, past White House, across the Valley, through the Quarry and over Irish Hill to the Clubhouse finish.
Colm and Gerry have both been club champion, and it was the birth of Gerry’s son Rory in 1989 that produced the jewel in the McIlroy golfing crown.
Holywood now presents and advertises itself as: Home Club of the 2011 US Open Champion and 2012 USPGA Champion.
It is only part of Rory’s story.
Four times in this playing season on the PGA Tour he has been a million dollar-plus winner.
He leads the European and US money lists, and has stretched comfortably clear of Tiger Woods to consolidate his number one World ranking.
McIlroy is now in a league with the sporting elite, his global accomplishments a product of the magic he can weave with his golfing wands – what lesser players call clubs.
It has been several years since I last chatted to him, but there is something he said to me in one of our first conversations that now makes complete sense.
I was trying to understand this young player who many were predicting was destined for sporting stardom.
In 2006 and 2007 I interviewed him a number of times – for newspapers and for two documentaries I made for Ulster Television under the title: Rory’s Game.
I asked him how good he thought he could be.
“How good do I want to be,” he responded.
“I want to be the best player of my era and I think I’ve the talent to do that.”
That was six years ago, and what are we watching now?
Is McIlroy becoming that best player of his era – the successor to Woods, and a name that one day will be spoken in the same sentences as Nicklaus, Palmer, Faldo and Ballesteros?
We will need to see some more, but already we have seen enough to suggest greatness.
Look how comfortable he was in the company of Woods in recent days, how confident and calm he was leading with everyone else chasing during those last two victories in the States.
McIlroy has made a significant move in the past year, playing out of the chasing pack to become the leader of his golfing gang, and stepping out of television screens across the globe to be recognised as that emerging world star.
His winning is not all that interests those who watch him, write about him, analyse his every word and whisper.
There is this Olympic question for 2016 and for whom will he play – Britain or Ireland?
For a product of Irish golf and a proud Ulsterman, it is not an easy choice; and whatever his decision, which has yet to be made, there will be those who will grumble, who will ignore his golfing class and who will find room for complaint.
The McIlroys I know are not a family of politics and flags.
Those things will not be key influencers in Rory’s ultimate decision; and that decision is his business, not ours.
This is a golfer who got to the top playing things and doing things his way.
I wrote in the Belfast Telegraph that the Olympics, whatever his decision, will be but one piece in the McIlroy jigsaw; a piece that will be connected with other pieces of career achievements to form an overall assessment of his play.
That is when we will know if he is next in line after Palmer, Nicklaus and Woods, and, in that assessment, he will be judged not for whom he played but what he won.
On twitter he has over a million followers, already, at just 23, he has earned all the money he will need, but to be the best of his era he needs to win some more – not cash but titles and Majors.
We should step out of his way, let him make up his own mind; let him play things his way, and why; because, so far, that is what has worked and with such brilliant results.
Rory knows this golfing game – better than most.
He learned it firstly on that Holywood walk from Hazel Wood to the Clubhouse, where a bench in memory of his late grandfather Jimmy now overlooks the 18th green.
Rory is becoming what many said he could be; the best in the world, and playing it and doing it his way.