How to avoid the golfing funny farm by Padraig Harrington

When he's not working, Padraig Harrington makes time for play.If your golf game is driving you around the twist, take the advice of a three time major winner, analyse things for 15 minutes and hit the town.

Golfers frequently fall off the planet in a failed attempt to relieve the stress of tour life but Padraig Harrington has no plans to try the Tiger Woods theory and end up in a sex addiction clinic. He simply believes the odd night out with the lads is all he needs to banish the triple bogey blues. 

Set to tee off his 2010 season in Los Angeles this week, Harrington said: “Sitting in your hotel room will destroy talent just as quickly as going out to excess. There’s a happy medium. I’ve seen as many players on the tour destroy their talent by working harder, sitting in the hotel room and not enjoying a normal life. 

“Just sitting there, brooding about their golf or practicing their putting on the bedroom carpet, that’s a quick recipe for the end of the career. So many guys I know, their career goes when they get into that. They have a wife and kids at home and feel that they have to work harder and not go out at night when they are on tour. But that is the wrong road to go down because there’s no outlet.”

Harrington knows that he has a tendency to practice too much and become obsessive about improving his game. Take last season, for example, when he got an earful from his wife, his caddie and his mental coach about a practice routine run wild.

But as he enters his 15th season as a professional, the triple major winning Dubliner sounds like a man whose found the perfect balance on and off the golf course and appears secure in the knowledge that his formula will help him contend for major titles for at least another seven years.

He insisted: “If you sit in your hotel room you are going to start thinking about that three putt you had on the 16th, or whatever it might be. But if you go out with the lads and have dinner, you’re going to spend three hours not thinking about it. 

“If you do that, you’ll go back to your room and go to bed and you won’t think about it again. You’ll get up and be in a better mindset the next day. Fifteen minutes is more enough to analyse your day on the golf course. I can guarantee you a lot of guys have gone badly south because they sit there doing it for four or five hours.”

Harrington will have no shortage of places to let off steam as he tees off his 2010 campaign in this week’s Los Angeles Open at Riviera.

But apart from his mental health, he has also taken steps to make sure he will be fit enough to challenge for majors until he’s 45.

The Dubliner turns 39 later this year but thanks to his work with the bio-mechanical experts at the Titleist Performance Institute in California, he reckons he can keep major injuries at bay for another seven years.

Harrington said: “I want to be competing when I’m 45 years old because I want to be able to put to good use the experience I’ll gain over the next seven years. It would be a pity to know a lot and not to be able to play the game. It’s better to use that experience and have a go at another 30 Majors.”