Padraig Harrington sees ‘disconnect, confusion’ in modern coaching

Padraig Harrington of Ireland and son, Ciaran Harrington, react on the 13th green after a birdie during the final round of the PNC Championship at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on December 17, 2023

Padraig Harrington played with his son, Ciaran, at the 2023 PNC Championship.

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Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington has gained a reputation as one of the game’s most insightful personalities.

Read a transcript of one of his interviews, and you’re likely to find thoughtful responses to every topic posed. In recent months, Harrington has dished out golf tipsparenting advice and opinions about the state of the game with refreshing candor. And his remarks at this week’s PGA Tour Champions’ Hoag Classic are no exception.

Harrington is one shot back after firing an opening round of 63 at Newport Beach Country Club, and in his post-round press conference, a reporter noted that Harrington has been spending significant time on filming instruction. Harrington was as thorough as ever in his response.

“I really, really love doing it,” he said of explaining the game’s fundamentals to the masses. “Like, I love playing my pro-ams every week. As I said, I think I broke my wrist there a few years ago and I had a few weeks off. Well, a good while off. Then I came back thinking I could come back and I couldn’t play. I was actually at the Bear’s Club, Jack kindly let me use the facilities. I was probably there four weeks where I wasn’t playing. If a member made eye contact with me, he was getting a lesson.”

Harrington said that he feels there is a gap to fill in golf instruction: the space between training a player at the elite-competition level, and what a recreational player needs to hear to improve. Harrington is happy to take on the latter.

Padraig Harrington of Ireland and his son Ciaran Harrington of Ireland pose for a photograph on the first tee during the Friday pro-am as a preview for the PNC Championship at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on December 15, 2023 in Orlando, Florida
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“I just like — I’m a big contrarian, being the youngest of five boys, so I like telling people things that they might know and when it comes to golf,” Harrington said. “I think there’s a disconnect between some of the elite level coaching and what you need to be an elite player and what you need to enjoy the game. Two different things.

“You know, yeah, like really are two different things the way a 50-year-old should play the game and how you would teach a 16-year-old how to play the game,” he continued. “I think there’s a lot of confusion out there like for people who are looking online, looking at Instagram and things like that. I don’t think they’re physically capable of doing what is a perfect golf swing. That’s an issue, what level do you go. Well, yeah, you should really rotate your hips open and open up with your torso and get side bend. Yeah, you know, it’s not really going to help you if you’re a 14 handicap, unless you’re young. And of course if you’re young, yeah, you should be doing that. You’ve got the ability. A lot of it comes down to if you’re not hitting balls every day, it’s hard to swing the club like a really, really athletic elite athlete.”

Want more from Harrington? Check out his tips for the everyman on X and Instragram. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on