FAIRMONT — For the first time in nearly a year and a half, Fairmont native and PGA Tour golfer William McGirt returned home on Tuesday.
While driving through Main Street, where he once frequented as a child, the 39-year-old noticed the changes that time and two devastating hurricanes left on Fairmont. The main purpose of his homecoming visit was to return to his roots in the game of golf at Fairmont Golf Club to host a clinic where his love for the game first blossomed.
“It’s always fun to come back and see a lot of people. I saw some people that I used to play golf with out here, a bunch of dad’s friends and some people I hadn’t seen in years,” McGirt said. “You wish you could stay here for a week, but I’ve got other stuff I need to do.”
The passion for golf is still with McGirt now 15 years after turning pro. At the clinic he aided the younger generation of golfers in the area, including Chirstopher Granadas. Granadas is a freshman at McGirt’s alma mater, Fairmont High School, and competed on the golf team this season after giving up the game for several years.
While Granadas’ game showed it needed work, McGirt was there to help him pinpoint parts of his swing that could help him on the course.
“It gave me experience and he taught me a lot of things. I think I’m going to play better,” Granadas said. “I remember how he hit the ball. Now I’m going to try and hit it like that.
“It meant a lot because I always wanted to meet him.”
McGirt said that he could tell that Granadas had the passion to work on his game and was readily available to do give the same guidance that he received at a young age at the same course.
“To sit there and watch him hit shots, you could tell he loves to play golf,” McGirt said. “He had some things he needs to work on and by the end of it he had some really good shots. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a kid, and when I say a kid I mean little babies up to 15 to 18 year olds, putting a smile on their face. To have a chance and give him a tip, you never know, it might be the thing that makes him really love the game and want to start practicing. I was glad to do it. It’s kind of like what we do on Wednesdays (at pro-ams).”
And carry that knowledge and hunger forward is what Granadas plans to do.
“He taught me a lot so I’m going to keep on practicing what he taught me,” Granadas said. “I’m going to keep doing what he taught me and now I can make better scores.”
On top of donating knowledge in the game of golf, raffles were also held at the clinic that raised approximately $1,000, according to Fairmont Golf Club Superintendent Tony Mackey. The money was split evenly among the three sports that McGirt holds close to his heart, the Fairmont High School baseball and golf teams and the Fairmont Dixie Youth Baseball organization.
“There’s a lot of people that supported me for a long time,” McGirt said. “With this, I told dad that if money is raised and is going to a charity, they’re going to get part of it or I’m not doing it.”
The event also gave the chance for the community to come check in on McGirt, who was sidelined after hip surgery in September. Mackey said that McGirt’s name comes up frequently at the clubhouse, on top of the numerous signs and memorabilia that is on the property.
“It was great having him back because we’ve got a lot of things going on at the golf course and it helps the golf course, but also a lot of people want to see William back in town,” Mackey said. “He’s got a lot of support in the county.”
McGirt said that he intends to return to competitive golf in the summer when he is able to make Web.com Tour rehab starts.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.