Padraig Harrington has come out in favour of golf’s governing bodies reigning in distance ahead of his Honda Classic appearance on the PGA Tour this week.
The Ryder Cup captain has weighed in on golf’s hottest topic, labelling speed an “addiction” among tour pros, whilst also admitting that his own career has suffered from chasing extra yards.
“I've chased distance every day of my life and the one thing I'm obsessed about is chasing distance,” said Harrington. “It's something I started doing when I came out as a pro. My whole life I've looked to try and stay competitive.”
Two years after turning pro, Harrington averaged 273 yards off the tee in the three PGA Tour events that he played in 1997. That would have been good enough for 46th on tour. Currently, the Irishman is averaging 297 yards this season, which ranks only 79th best on tour.
“I suppose it definitely has cost me at times. There's no doubt about it. I'd be looking at speed and focusing on my training, rather than just being mentally sharp at tournaments. So yeah, there was definitely a downside, and I see the addiction of chasing speed and I see the problem of it.”
Despite years of work trying to add distance, the 49-year-old, currently 228th on the Official World Golf Ranking, believes curtailing the distance the ball can travel, would be the correct thing to do.
The three-time major champ outlined six reasons why the governing bodies should step in and make the change.
“The golf ball going further means it's more expensive to build a golf course and on top of that, it's more expensive to maintain a golf course,” added Harrington. “The golf ball going further definitely slows down the round of golf in terms of it's a longer walk, it takes longer, and that's the biggest issue with golf is the pace, the time it takes to get around.
“The golf ball going further also slows down the style of play because there's more bottle-necks when people wait on par-4s and par-5s. It has meant that some golf courses are obsolete, some of the great courses.
“Added distance also means that golf is extremely dangerous at home. People wing it off fairways. You go to any regular club in Ireland. Guys who are 25 years of age are hitting it 340 yards in the air and they don't know where it's going. It's dangerous. So, for those six reasons I think the game should be tailed back.”