Major champ says this is the biggest key for adding swing speed

Pro golfer padraig harrington hits driver during the 2024 u.s. senior open

Padraig Harrington has been able to add swing speed as he's gotten older.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a regular game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

Speed training is all the rage in golf these days. Adding some extra mph to your swing speed not only impresses your playing partners, it makes the game easier, too.

The speed-training fad isn’t just for the young guns. While players like Bryson DeChambeau and Matt Fitzpatrick have been the most visible speed training disciples of the past few years, that’s not to say adding speed is only for the twenty-somethings. In the current era of golf, speed training is something everyone should be trying.

Padraig Harrington is among the many who has adopted this philosophy in recent years. Although he’s 52 years old — and well past his playing prime — the three-time major winner is chasing speed like never before.

The endeavor has been a successful one as Harrington is hitting the ball further than just about anyone his age, leading the Champions Tour in driving distance the last two seasons. And much of that success can be attributed to a key breakthrough that every golfer can learn from.

Breaking the mental barrier

At the tail end of the 2010s, Harrington’s clubhead speed was trending in the wrong direction. It’s common for golfers to lose speed as they age, but for a competitor like Harrington, the speed losses were discouraging. In order to keep competing at a high level, he knew he needed to add some speed.

Harrington soon started working with GOLF Top 100 Teacher Michael Jacobs on adding clubhead speed. And while there were certain technical tweaks that helped add some power, the biggest breakthrough was a mental one.

“Just trying to get used to it mentally,” Harrington said at the U.S. Senior Open. “For me, it’s definitely more of a mental barrier than physical barrier.”

This is a refrain you’ll hear from lots of players who are chasing speed. The hardest thing about gaining speed is convincing your body that it’s OK to go fast. Once you can break that mental barrier, the gains come quickly.

“What most people don’t understand is that it’s neurological,” DeChambeau said in 2022. “Your body can go much faster than you think it can, it’s your brain that’s telling it to slow down.”

So how do you break through this mental barrier? Get on the range and swing hard. Get comfortable with the idea of swinging fast and allow your body to get that feeling. Once you break the mental barrier, you’ll be amazed how much distance you gain.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at