AT the age of five, star golfer Padraig Harrington was helping his father Paddy to build a golf course perched in the Dublin mountains with his bare hands.
Already golfing for a year at that stage, the young Harrington got down to business, levelling off the greens at Stackstown golf club, with its sweeping views of Dublin Bay.
"Anyone who knows this golf club knows the greens aren't very level," said Harrington of his early efforts – while pointing out the Rathfarnham club is built half way up a mountain.
With a suntan courtesy of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, the three-time major winner was back on his favourite course to launch the Irish Open, which takes place at Fota Island in Cork this summer.
Bitter winds whistled around him as he instructed Sports Minister Michael Ring – a non-golfer – how to putt a shot for the cameras. Old-time members yesterday recalled how Padraig's father had reared him never to lose his temper while out on the golf course, warning him that he would be in trouble if he ever saw him do such a thing like kick his golf bag in rage.
And now a third generation of Harringtons is now teeing off at Stackstown, the world-famous golfer revealed.
His 10-year-old son, Paddy, is out on the course alongside his dad whenever he can. "He's not travelling up and playing 45 holes like I would've done probably at that age – but he likes playing a round when I'm with him."
Mr Ring called for companies to consider sponsoring the Irish Open, since funding for the event had fallen from €2.5m to €1.5m. "I'm saying to multinationals: 'We're pleased with the employment you are creating but we would like to see you putting a bit of money back into sport," the minister said.