Sport Golf

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Harrington backs a new way forward for dedicated golfers

Published 23/12/2015 | 02:30

Founder Tadhg Harrington, left, and Stephen Ennis, right, with Padraig Harrington at The Learning Centre in Balcarrick GC (Picture: Caroline Quinn)
Founder Tadhg Harrington, left, and Stephen Ennis, right, with Padraig Harrington at The Learning Centre in Balcarrick GC (Picture: Caroline Quinn)

Pádraig Harrington admits he is fascinated and obsessed by golf, a game which has yielded rich rewards for him in terms of trophies won and prize money tucked away in the bank.

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But what is not immediately apparent is that the three-time Major winner is as interested in the game as it applies to golfers of all abilities, and not just to the professionals who ply their trade at the highest echelons of the sport.

Harrington has dedicated his life to improvement at golf. He is not afraid to say he has gone down many avenues in search of better ways to stay competitive and stay focused.

The one constant has been the team around him, ranging from technical coaches, mental gurus including Dr Bob Rotella, physical therapists, fitness consultant Dr Liam Hennessy, putting expert Dr Paul Hurrion and others - underpinned, of course, by his own commitment and willingness to put in the long hours of hard work.

Brainchild

By contrast, the average handicap golfer, by and large, trundles along with the help every now and then of a PGA professional. Many dream of attaining single figures or winning a Medal or a Captain's Prize and never get near to achieving that aim, or indeed, of improving their golf by a significant margin of progress.

And that's the reason Harrington was at Balcarrick Golf Club in North County Dublin yesterday morning to publicise 'The Learning Centre' which is the brainchild of his brother Tadhg, and Balcarrick professional Stephen Ennis.

They are taking a whole new approach to golf improvement, but it's not for the lacklustre or the faint-hearted.

Essentially, the golfer signs on for a six-month programme - if accepted - and gets busy with a comprehensive package of tuition and support, aided by top-grade technology, video analysis and constant monitoring and feedback.

Twice a month the golfer has a two-hour session, with compulsory check-ups in between to ensure the drills they are working on are being done correctly. Every aspect - long game, short game, physical fitness, mental skills, and competition performance is covered during the six months.

The cost? Programmes start at €500 a month. That's €3,000 for the six months, but at the end of that period, the aim is to produce improvements that are lasting and which convert to results in competitive golf.

It started in October and currently 18 golfers, male and female, ranging from some professionals and very good amateurs through to high-handicap women golfers are going through the programme.

Pádraig Harrington approves of this comprehensive approach.

"I like this concept," he said. "The uniqueness is the fact of the commitment from both sides.

"It has always been the bane of the PGA pros - 'I've given him a quick fix this week, will he come back to me next week?'

"The difference here is they're looking for a different sort of person. They are looking for that person who genuinely wants to change, and maybe not the easy change or the soft change.

"They're looking for that person, the good amateur who's not quite making the grade. They're looking for the young pro who's not quite there.

"They're looking for the retiree who's saying, 'Right, I'm going to get to single figures.'

"It's for somebody who already has a goal in their own life. They're not providing the goal. You come with the goal, and they'll figure out how to get you there," he said.

Stephen Ennis commented: "Our programmes are tailored to their golfers' needs in terms of improving and also to their learning styles.

"The key for us is that they're going to go out of here better golfers, able to apply the improvement on the golf course, and sustain it."

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