Harrington putting his faith in ‘P2’ revolution
ENDA McLOUGHLIN has swept from behind the counter of his modest pro shop at Wicklow Golf Club into the big time on the world’s elite tours.
At a time when Ireland is crying out for young entrepreneurs, McLoughlin (30) has created, patented and now launched a revolutionary piece of equipment which could take his sport by storm.
It’s a remarkable measure of McLoughlin’s invention that Padraig Harrington pressed the new ‘P2’ putter grip into European Tour action at the recent Abu Dhabi Championship, less than 48 hours after laying hands on it for the first time.
Ireland’s three-time Major champion said he’d likely use the P2 this week at Pebble Beach as he tries to recover that old Harrington magic on the greens at the $6.4m AT&T National Pro-Am.
Three years ago, when McLoughlin resolved to transform a bright idea into business reality, he had no idea of the marathon ahead.
This unassuming young club pro suddenly found himself in an unfamiliar world, dealing with patent attorneys, manufacturing agents, distributors and even golf’s ruling body, the R&A, who approved his invention for play.
The Tullamore native ploughed every minute of his spare time and as much money as he and his sole financial backer, his father Ollie, could muster into a project which became pan-global; of necessity, the grips are manufactured in China.
So it felt like a personal triumph for McLoughlin to fit the first P2 on to his own putter before Christmas.
Now they’re on sale across Ireland, with Britain, Europe and the US next on the agenda. As ever with successful inventions, McLoughlin’s concept is simple but its effects are profound.
Fellow professionals believe this grip could prove to be one of the most significant advances in putting technology since the emergence of Callaway’s famous Odyssey 2-Ball head.
One of Ireland’s foremost club pros, Brendan McGovern of Headfort explains how necessity was the mother of McLoughlin’s invention.
“Like anyone else who might struggle with a little part of their game, Enda put his mind to finding an answer and, bingo, he came up with a great idea. I think the P2 is really impressive,” said McGovern.
“It makes the putter more upright and gets the head and the hands in the right place through the stroke. I believe it’d make all the difference to someone like Lee Westwood, who appears very tense around the shoulders when putting.”
The idea was born when McLoughlin glued two grips on to the front and back of his own putter.
This gradually evolved into the P2, which is of regular width but has deep, flat sides. Though comfortable to hold, it forces the hands high, making it difficult to flex the wrists.
“With the wrists locked in place, there’s less scope for movement in the putter face through the stroke,” he explained. “I’m not saying it’ll suit everybody but, put on properly and square, it’ll give you a near perfect stroke. It takes quite an effort to pull or push a putt with it.”
McLoughlin’s grip differs from all others because the putter shaft runs at an angle up its back, not the centre. This makes the putter four degrees more upright, placing the shaft on the same plane as the forearms.
Steve Stricker achieves the same effect by playing with his putter head angled on its toe. With twitchy wrists taken out of the equation, McLoughlin’s grip might even offer a more widely acceptable alternative to the controversial long putter.
Dr Paul Hurrion, an English scientist who specialises in biomechanics and is one of golf’s foremost putting gurus, first saw the P2 when Harrington, a client, tried it out on the practice green in Abu Dhabi.
He was impressed with McLoughlin’s idea of running the putter shaft off-centre, saying: “I can see the benefit in that.” As a leading advocate of the pendulum putting method, Hurrion believes the P2 “definitely would help certain people” by easing their hands into “the correct position” on the putter, thereby eliminating “wrist flick” in the stroke.
Confessing he’d “no idea” of the science behind the grip, Harrington said: “I just like the bigger, flatter side against my hand. I feel I’m putting more with my right palm.”
McLoughlin took delivery of 1,000 grips last month and they’ve moved so well, by word of mouth alone, that he ordered another 1,000 yesterday. Needing to sell a couple of thousand more (at just under €30 each) to cover his costs, McLoughlin said: “If it breaks even, I’ll be happy, though you’d always want it to go on and become a little more successful.”
Once it hits the global market, one suspects this ingenious Irish invention will exceed those modest expectations by far.