"I thought hitting the fairway was part and parcel of golf. Silly me."

Lawrence Donegan talks to Andrew Coltart about his struggles with distance and the flogging approach to course setup.

"When I played with Tiger he was a brilliant player but he was also very physically imposing, so I went away and tried to work on hitting the ball further. That was 1999. We're now in 2007 and I'm still trying to get more distance," he said. "If I don't try and hit the ball further, the way technology is going I'm going to be left way behind."

The truth is that Coltart, now 37, whose trip to tour school comes after his failure to make the top 115 in the 2007 European tour order of merit, may already have been left behind. Last year he was 181st in driving distance, hitting the ball 268 yards on average - a full 40 yards behind the longest hitters. In the Italian Open in the summer he had to play a five-wood shot into the green on seven of the first nine holes.

"How the hell can I get a five-wood shot close to the hole consistently? If I'd shot two under par I would have done really well - the winning score was 16 under par," he said sarcastically. "I don't want this to come over as bitterness but I feel technology has allowed guys to prosper who 15 years ago wouldn't have been able to make a penny. But because of technology and the way the courses are set up they are going to do really well.

"A guy might be able to dunt the ball 260 yards down the middle but that guy is constantly being outdone because the bigger hitter - the animal, for the want of a better expression - hits it 330 yards and it doesn't matter if he is in the rough because he has only got a wedge in his hands for his next shot. And the greens are saturated, so whatever he can lob up on to the green is just going to plug and stop somewhere near the flag.

"There is one statistic that is very curious to me - you have guys who are 150th in driving accuracy yet are 10th in greens in regulation. How can that be right? I thought hitting the fairway was part and parcel of golf. Silly me."

Interesting to note that he doesn't seem optimistic that a change in grooves will help him reverse his fortunes.