It’s coming up for four years now since Bob Torrance, that sage of the swing, passed away.

In a coaching world now peppered with hi-tech contraptions and gizmos, Torrance remained defiantly old school. His was a philosophy built on good technique, commitment and honest toil while his roll-up-the-sleeves approach was instinctive and favoured the naked eye.

Forget all those biomechanical analysis machines and fancy launch monitors, Torrance’s absorbing stare could penetrate its way through to the finest nuances and subtle intricacies of the swing just as effectively.

With that instantly recognisable, rasping growl, Torrance would deliver great pearls of golfing wisdom while, more often than not, wreathed in gently billowing plumes of fag reek.

Sam, the former Ryder Cup captain, was Torrance’s only son but, in the extended family of golf, he had plenty of surrogate sons. In many ways, Padraig Harrington was the golden child.

The alliance began 20 years ago, in 1998, and blossomed as the Irishman went on to win two Open Championships and a US PGA Championship crown during a magical spell between 2007 and 2008. The hard-working Harrington was right up Torrance’s street and each man seemed to inspire the other.

Nothing lasts forever in this game, of course, but while the relationship came to an end in 2011, the influence of Torrance on Harrington endures.

“With Bob, I made a substantial change to my swing and that is never going to go away,” said Harrington during an expansive chin-wag the other day in which he covered more bases than a charity baseball marathon.

“Paul McGinley once said that I was one of the few players who made a distinguishable change in my golf swing. It physically changed, from the way I swung it pre-Bob to the way I swung it with him.

“Players will come and tell you they have changed something. But, if you looked at them swinging the golf club, you couldn’t tell the difference.

“With Bob, I made a substantial change and that is never going to go away. Every person I work with from now on, I still have the legacy of Bob Torrance in my golf swing. I also still relate a lot of my own coaching to him.

“When somebody says something to me, I find myself saying, ‘Bob used to teach this’. In terms of my golf swing, my base is Bob and everything is related to him. It is like how you learn a language. I think in Bob Torrance speak even if I am doing something different.

“Howard Bennett was my first coach, but he was more on the psychology and performance front and how you get around the golf course. But my first swing coach was Bob and I still think in his language, there’s no doubt about that.”

That language could often be, shall we say, colourful. Torrance would call a spade an effin’ spade but, like many golfers who were inspired and educated by Torrance’s all-embracing tutelage, the musings and sayings remain seared on the mind.

“Bob would say, ‘come on, we’ll go up to the salt mines’,” recalled Harrington. “That, of course, was going up to the practice range. To most people, going to the salt mines would be a miserable thing. There are a million sayings he’d come out with.

“There isn’t a day that goes by where there isn’t a Bob Torrance phrase or a story as we go around the golf course. His stories were so good. Someone should have written a book.”

Harrington is hoping he has a few more chapters to pen in his own golfing career. At 46, there is plenty of golfing life left in him.

“I’ll be playing golf somewhere,” he said with a peer into the future. “I like to play golf, I’m fascinated by it. Whether I can compete? Physically I can compete. I have struggled with my putting but it’s coming back. My chipping is as good or better than any of these guys. That only leaves a bit of the mental game.

“That has been poor. I’ve not been as strong mentally but there are many reasons for that. It could be experience and scar tissue but I’m getting through it. I feel like I can win where I am and it’s all about winning tournaments.

“I had a rough couple of years, two or three years ago. I had the putting yips and I was working so hard to just shoot a 72. I wouldn’t want to be doing that.

“I’ve seen guys get to the twilight of their career and they are out there trying too hard for no return. I don’t want to be that old codger where the young guys are looking at me thinking ‘will he ever take it easy and take a step back?’ Three years ago, I couldn’t keep that going. I’m in a good place now.”

Having essentially thrown his hat into the ring for the 2020 European Ryder Cup captaincy, Harrington is confident he’d do a good job even if that particular job is not for the faint-hearted.

“It’s not a pretty job and it’s not an easy job considering the fine line between success and failure,” he said. “There are reasons not to be a Ryder Cup captain, but there are more reasons to do it.”