Rising star Bob MacIntyre going places but home is where his heart is

Away from the hustle bustle of Oban town centre on a sun-kissed summer day, Bob MacIntyre is holding court in the peace and quiet of Glencruitten Golf Club clubhouse. It’s his second home, having been around the place since he was a nipper. His dad, Dougie, is the greenkeeper and the family live close to the 12th tee.

Bob MacIntyre at his home course Glencruitten Golf Club, where his dad Dougie is the greenkeeper.
Bob MacIntyre at his home course Glencruitten Golf Club, where his dad Dougie is the greenkeeper.

One of the walls is adorned with a photograph and article from MacIntyre’s Scottish Amateur Championship win at Muirfield in 2015. Someone is going to be kept busy charting his career. The 22-year-old left-hander is enjoying a terrific rookie season on the European Tour, having recorded two second-place finishes, and has just secured an exemption for the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

MacIntrye’s travels this year have already taken him to Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. Home is where his heart is, though, even if it means a two-and-a-half hour drive to Glasgow Airport every time he sets off on his travels.

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“I love it here,” he said, having decided to skip this week’s event at Valderrama to get himself ready for a three-week links stint that will also take in the Irish and Scottish Opens at Lahinch and The Renaissance Club respectively. “I’m always going to be in Oban – it’s more than likely going to be full-time.”

When Richie Ramsay started out on the circuit, he was based in Aberdeen before moving to Edinburgh for the convenience of having more flights at his disposal. Though it is still early days, MacIntyre has no such plans. “A five-hour round trip is not too much when you’ve got a full week off. I would love to be able to base myself here,” he added.

“It’s comfort. I’m a home boy anyway, so when I can spend time with the family it’s big. It doesn’t matter whether I’m playing well or rubbish, I’ll come up here and the boys will give me a good laugh. They will rip into me and bring me back down to earth anyway.”

A day of media commitments prevented him from getting out for a hit on one of the nicest days of the year. You could just sense, though, that he was champing at the bit. “My first competition here was me, my best mate Ally MacLean and his dad, who took us round,” he recalled, smiling. “I must have scored over a hundred. I was seven or eight years old, nervous as heck, not knowing what was to come. The two of us, Ally and me, still play most nights when I’m at home.”

In addition to keeping the local course in great nick, dad Dougie is also the manager of Oban Celtic, one of the town’s two shinty teams. “My dad was my biggest influence,” said MacIntyre, who has joined Paul Lawrie and Russell Knox in the field for the season’s final major on the Antrim Coast. “When I was a youngster me, him and my sister, Nicola, would go out and play four holes out the back of the house almost every night. But dad never pushed me. I’d go play football, shinty and he’d be like ‘go play golf if you want’. But I got the bug so that kind of made it easier for everyone.”

MacIntyre’s rise has been rapid. Two years ago, he was still an amateur and vying to get into the Walker Cup, which he did. Taking a different route to some at the outset of his 
professional career, he won in just his second start on the third-tier MENA Tour in Kuwait.

He graduated from the Challenge Tour at the first attempt last season and has looked very comfortable indeed on the main circuit this year. “Playing with big names early on helped,” he admitted of getting the opportunity to play with two major 
winners, Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel, in events in South Africa at the start of the 2019 schedule. “I said when I got my card I wouldn’t realise it until I was drawn with a big name and Ernie was the main man who made me realise ‘you’re here now’. I played with him and Schwartzel on the Sunday in Joburg and could hardly tee the ball up on the first tee. Then playing with Tommy Fleetwood (in Abu Dhabi and again in the British Masters at Hillside) after that make it a wee bit easier. Ernie gave me little snippets, no direct advice. He would tell me a story from his past and it would be a wee tip within the story, little snippets you keep.

“It’s been a bit of a quick rise over the last two months. I didn’t really expect it the way I was playing, making cuts and going backwards. But I always believed once I got going and had the momentum with me I could go anywhere in the game and hopefully I’m going to that place.

“I knew I had the game to do it. I did it at the end of last year at the right time of the season when all the bigger points were on the line. I have played in the Dunhill as an amateur and looking at that, I knew I could compete out here when I was older.

“But, with six events to go on the Challenge Tour, I was really just trying to keep my card and get as high up the rankings as I could and try to get my European Tour card this year. But everything just seemed to happen so quick you had no time to think. It was straight into Hong Kong, so there wasn’t time to think about it.

“I don’t know if qualifying for The Open has sunk in yet, though, and it probably won’t until I’m there and seeing guys like Tiger [Woods] and Phil [Mickelson].”