2-Year Program Alum Talks Turfgrass Consultancy & Rory McIlroy

September 10, 2014 in 2-year, Alumni

JC-and-RoryWhen Rory McIlroy was still an amateur, he visited Padraig Harrington’s house in suburban Dublin, where he eyed the Claret Jug.   “I’d really like to have one of those.”   He then glanced out the window towards Harrington’s practice grounds, maintained in the manner of a course on the Open rota.  “But if I can’t have the jug,” said McIlroy, “who would turn professional later that summer, “I would take that practice facility instead.”

Now, the reigning US Open champion owns a practice complex to rival Harrington’s.   And the link between these two great Irish golfers and their practice facilities is a Dublin company called Turfgrass Consultancy, which built and maintains these state-of-the-art practice grounds.

Harrington’s practice area was finished about eight years ago, though it’s been remodeled and added to since.   Harrington had a green built in imitation of the 13th at Carnoustie, with a severe slope running off the back.  “The harder the shot, the happier Padraig is,” says John Clarkin, founder of Turfgrass Consultancy (“TC”) and the first Irish graduate of Penn State University’s Turfgrass Management Program.   Perhaps Harrington had a premonition, or perhaps playing thousands of shots around that practice green gave him a psychological edge, but whatever the reason it’s perhaps not surprising that Harrington’s breakthrough major championship came in the 2007 Open—at Carnoustie.

The main green at Harrington’s is used only for chipping and putting.  No full shot carrying the vicious spin imparted by a top professional’s swing ever gouges a lesion onto Harrington’s green.   It’s kept smooth and flawless, and can be maintained at Stimp speeds up to 14.  “When Padraig does hit a shot toward that green,” Clarkin notes, “he always lands it on the fringe.  Always.”

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