Connect with us


‘It’s a family joke that a tee time is the only thing Dad isn’t late for’ – Paddy Harrington sends up Pádraig at Hall of Fame induction



“Before we welcome him on stage, there is another side to this hardworking paragon of virtue that I feel like I must mention,” his son Paddy (20) told an august gathering that featured many members of the Hall of Fame from Lee Trevino and Ben Crenshaw to Nancy Lopez and Dame Laura Davies.

“People in the audience might be shocked to hear that he actually doesn’t spend every waking moment of the day practising his golf.

Paddy Harrington speaks during his father Pádraig Harrington’s induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst, North Carolina

“And I would say that some days he may actually spend more time playing Clash of Clans than working on his golf game. And as one of the hardest-working people in golf, he sure does love his sleep-ins.

“I’d say he’s not out of bed before 11 am on a week away from the tour unless he has a tee time in the diary.

“It’s actually a family joke that a tee time is the only thing Dad isn’t late for.”

Paddy shot to fame before his fourth birthday at Carnoustie in 2007 when the latest Irish addition to the Hall of Fame won The Open, ending a 60-year wait for an Irish major winner, and famously asked if he could put ladybirds in the Claret Jug.

WATCH: Paul Kimmage goes behind the scenes with Padraig Harrington at the World Golf Hall of Fame venue in Pinehurst

“From working to grow the game to his charity work to everything he’s done for the sport, even including his annoyingly increasing YouTube following, he’s set an example not just for (my brother) Ciarán and myself but for Irish golfers who are following in his footsteps,” Paddy said.

“Dad is renowned as one of the hardest working golfers on tour and I’m proud to say that he’s genuinely managed to balance his hardest quest for golfing perfection, with being a fantastic family man, a loving husband to my Mum Caroline, a fun and enthusing father to myself and Ciarán and now perhaps his favourite role to date, a besotted dog-dad to Wilson and Setanta.

Pádraig Harrington hugs his son Paddy as Pádraig is inducted during the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction at the Carolina Hotel

“Despite all the success and admiration, Dad has remained unchanged throughout his career, his feet firmly on the ground as he kept the family based in Ireland, close to both their extended family and their friends, and never changing his down-to-earth and fun-loving attitude and always staying unfailingly generous with his time and success to all in our community, throughout Ireland and around the world.”

A host of players paid video tributes to Harrington, including Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Davis Love, Steve Stricker and his former Walker Cup partner Jody Fanagan.

The Dubliner was asked to keep his speech to eight minutes but he spoke for closer to a quarter of an hour to an audience of assembled guests that included his wife Caroline, manager Adrian Mitchell, mental coach Dr Bob Rotella, trainer Dr Liam Hennessy, coaches Pete Cowen and Noel Fox and a fellow Irish stars Paul McGinley and Shane Lowry.

Other inductees on the night included LPGA legend Sandra Palmer, the late Johnny Farrell and Tom Weiskopf, and the LPGA founders.

Pádraig Harrington’s Hall of Fame speech:

“Thank you, Paddy, for your very kind words indeed. I’m extremely grateful to receive this honour tonight and exceptionally fortunate in life to be here. I have to say, I’m also humbled and privileged to share this night with my fellow inductees. I have a new role model — Sandra Palmer. I’d to be like Sandra when I am 80 years of age. I also have Paddy’s Golf Tips — you should always swing it like Johnny Farrell. Very impressive, but I do like to say that we Irish will get everywhere.

“Emotionally it brings me a deep sense of satisfaction and validation to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As a player, you get inducted into the Hall of Fame based on your golf results. So yes, I won three majors and made numerous friends around the world. I played six Ryder Cups. And that’s what gets you into the Hall of Fame. But there is a story behind it. So what’s my story?

“Firstly, I’m not sure whether I love the game or the game loves me. I love the fact that it was never meant to be a fair game. It was always meant to be a test of skill and mental fortitude. I love the rules. I love the etiquette. I love the competition. Probably ultimately, I love the meritocracy; that you’re out there on your own, nobody decides your fate, and it’s up to you to get it done.

“During your life, you receive a lot of accolades when you’re doing well. But when you’re playing, you kind of brush over them, thinking that there’s always going to be more wins than honours. But at this stage in my life, I realise it’s time to take stock. Entering the Hall of Fame gives me time to reflect on my past victories, and more importantly, share them with my family and friends, many of whom are here tonight.

“One of the stereotypes of my golfing life would be that I’m known for changing. Interestingly though, there have been a lot of constants in my career. I’ve been with the same manager Adrian Mitchell, financial advisor Philip Barker and PA Julie Oliver for close to 30 years.

“Adrian is a scratch golfer and unbelievably enough, he might be more obsessed with the game than me. I’ve been with Wilson Golf for 26 years. Thanks to Doug, Ron and Tim who are all here tonight. I’ve had the same caddie for over 20 years. Ronan Flood. He succeeded Dave McNeilly, who got replaced for working too hard. It could only happen to Dave McNeilly. All are here tonight. People often ask if caddies really make the difference, and categorically, I can say Ronan won me the 2007 Open Championship.

“On the 72nd hole, after I hit my second ball in the water, it was the first and only time I’ve ever been on the golf course where I felt embarrassed, where I wanted to give up. I really thought I had given away the Open.

“However, Ronan struck to his guns and started into the cliches — it’s not over yet, one shot at a time and so on. I think he took the four iron off me pretty quickly because I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have a swing at him with it. But he kept walking, kept doing his job and he got in my head.

“As I walked up to take my penalty drop and hit my fifth shot, I hit it like a teenager. I was right back in the zone. I told this story for months afterwards about how my caddie didn’t give up on me and how he believed. It was about three months, I think, before he was in the room and heard me tell the story, and he let me tell it because he stood up in the end and acknowledged that while he said all those things, he also thought I’d lost the feckin’ Open. (I did quieten that down for TV; it was a little stronger language).

“There are other constants in my career, which I’ll come back to later, but let’s get back to where it all started.

“I believe that life is very circumstantial, particularly when it comes to sports people. For starters, my family shaped who I am. I’m the youngest of five boys, and all my brothers took jobs as teenagers. But as the youngest, I didn’t have to, and I got all the opportunities.

Pádraig Harringtonposes with family and guests prior to his induction

“My father was a policeman and helped build and develop a golf course, Stackstown Golf Club. It was close to my home and I can remember spending all my early years hanging out there, as it became my playground. I looked for golf balls, I chased rabbits, I played golf from a young age.

“At that time it was just another adventure. I can remember helping to level the 12th green. I was all hands on deck when it came to building the golf course. My unfortunate older brothers had to do manual labour like picking stones out of the quarries. while I only had to level the sand on the 12th green. By the way, the 12th green has become cursed by many as it’s one of the severest slopes on the golf course.

“My dad, as a top-class sportsman himself, was a huge influence on me. The irony was that before I was born, he was a prodigous hitter of the golf ball but wild off the tee, and then decided to curtail it by hitting it short and straight. Wow, it was a different game back then.

“One piece of advice I would give to everybody that happened by chance with my dad. When I went on tour, I used to ring him after every round and give him a rundown of every shot I hit. I didn’t realise until he passed away in 2005 that that was more for me than him. I would recommend that if you can find someone to listen to your unconditional stories at the end of any day for five or 10 minutes, just like my wife does now, it will help reduce the stresses of life.

“My mum was tougher and more competitive. And actually winning the All Ireland Mother and Son Tournament as my last amateur event was one of the true joys of my golfing golf career. I have to say sorry to one person in the room, Brett Desmond, who was runner-up with his Mum, and I don’t think he’s got it done yet.

“My four older brothers may have been an even bigger influence. I was lucky to have Fergal but he’s 20 months older than me. He became a great role model, within touching distance, who I competed with and tried to beat at everything.

“As I got a little bit older, barely into my teens, I was playing with my elder brothers. Tadhg, an incredibly tenacious golfer with an unbelievable ability to win at anything and Columb, who was a smart competitor and got it done by using his head, usually by getting in my head.

“Interestingly, my middle brother Fintan had the best swing in the house but no interest in the game.

“I have been with my wife Caroline for 34 years. She’s probably more into sport than I am because that helps for sure. But we nearly didn’t get past five months.

“In my first championship tournament that she came to, I was in the last group and it was a big day of golf. But I blew up. I went in to sign my card and sulked in the lockerroom for 20 minutes. When I came out to find my girlfriend, she had gone. I learned the lesson very quickly.

“She point blankly was not putting up with any sulking. Another story that sums up my wife’s support took place after we got married and we bought our first apartment, which wasn’t cleaned to my wife’s standards.

“After we’d spent two days cleaning it, we came to the mutual decision that my time would be better spent practising rather than cleaning. Whilst I was very happy with that and thrilled with the support of my wife, as I was writing this, I came to realise that maybe I just wasn’t very good at cleaning.

“You heard from Paddy earlier and his brother Ciaran is also here tonight, I can’t thank them enough for their unwavering support that keeps me grounded as I’m Dad to them.

“I think their favourite moment was actually the 2016 Olympics. When we were trying to leave one day through the athletes’ exit, the security guard —and there was a little bit of a language issue — was suspicious. How could I be an athlete?

“Eventually, we had to convince him I was a coach and that my oldest son was the athlete. To this day they continually rib me about that. I’m not the athlete.

“Speaking of coaches, I started with my first coach at 15 years of age. I had a few lessons with Wattie Sullivan at home, but Howard Bennett, who was the national coach, became my first full-time coach. I’m delighted to say that Howard has travelled from England to be here tonight at 87 years of age

“As most of the fellow inductees here tonight will tell you, it’s so lucky to get a great coach to start off with and he truly nurtured my strengths. I think at this stage, I assumed my golf career was always going to be as an amateur, continuing on with the past fantastic programmes of Golf Ireland and the R&A. Why else would I study accountancy for four years at night?

“Eventually when I did decide to turn pro, I didn’t know what to expect. I was dominating as an amateur but wasn’t all that sure about to the pro game. Little did I know it would go so well.

“I always had an insatiable desire to get better and being out on tour was like being a kid in a candy shop.

“After two successful years on the European Tour, I instigated three significant changes. I started working with Bob Rotella after I reading his book. ‘Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect’. The brilliance of Bob is he gives you responsibility. It’s up to you to do the work. Bob and his wife Darlene are here tonight.

“I felt, also, I was at my technical limit with ball striking, which is when I started working with Bob Torrance. We were a match made in heaven. I had the short game, the mentality and the work ethic and Bob was happy to spend all day on the range. And we did spend all day on the range.

“Bob was a fabulous person to be around, full of great quotes and pearls of wisdom. Some of my favourites were, ‘One sip of the medicine at a time’, and ‘Never weaken your strengths to strengthen your weaknesses’. He was so far ahead of his time, even without the technology today.

“I also started working with Dr. Liam Hennessy, my trainer, mentor and dear friend and made some big physical changes. We nicknamed him Dr. Frankenstein because we tried about every iteration in training long before it became trendy on Instagram.

“By the way, if he is Frankenstein, that means I am the monster. He was here tonight as well.

“There are many others who have been important to my career, who are also here tonight. My swing coach Pete Cowen. Sorry Pete, you can’t believe how much you’re like Bob Torrance — a great person to be around with an unbelievable love and knowledge of the game.

“Michael Jacobs, another coach at the cutting edge in golf swing science and my old sparring partner, Noel Fox, who looks after my day-to-day coaching as I continue, believe it or not, to dream to get better.

“Paul Hurrion, who’s worked with my putting for 20 years and Brian Moore on my physiology side — I suppose that’s your health and fitness as you get ready to play tournaments. He’s spent his life trying to tell me to hit less golf balls. Now that’s a hard job.

“On the playing side, Jody Fanagan, my long-suffering amateur foursomes partner. And Paul McGinley, my pro partner, who’s always been there as a great friend and mentor. I can’t believe how many arguments I have had — or discussions I have had — with Paul McGinley.

“As a mentor, I hope I’m there for the Irish pros who have come after me, like Shane Lowry. But of course, he’s not so young any more. Again, they’re here tonight.

“I believe my mum and dad would be most proud of me doing the right thing in golf; getting it done the right way. It was always about results. They certainly enjoyed how I played but I think I was only ever really going to be judged on my attitude and how I handled myself around the game.

“I am now trying to pass on what I’ve learned to amateurs through my Paddy’s Golf Tips and to encourage people to try golf initiatives such as developing a free-to-use putting green at a (Marlay) park in Ireland with hopefully more to come.

“As you can see with my story, everything is possible. I think this has resonated as we went through the night, especially with Steph Curry (receiving the Charlie Sifford Award). Everything is possible if you’re given the opportunity and I was given the opportunity.

“I’m grateful for all my friends I’ve made to everyone who has made this possible. I hope to live up to their high standards and those of the World Golf Hall of Fame. There are so many people here as I sit here tonight and look at the former members of the Hall of Fame.

“There are many who I looked up to before I turned pro and some who I have competed against. It’s such an honour to be considered to be in the same group as them, especially out there on the Champions Tour where you’re competing against so many of them.

“Lastly, I’m going to leave you with these words from Bob Torrance, which I appreciate more and more as I get older. Every day as I left the practice ground to go to the first tee, he would say, ‘These are the happiest days of our lives’. Thank you.”

Continue Reading