Robert MacIntyre already has a Walker Cup story to tell his grandchildren when they come along. Few Great Britain & Ireland players, after all, have discovered they’re in the biennial event with the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing in the background. “I was on Santa Monica Beach when I got the call,” said the 21-year-old Glencruitten left-hander, laughing. “It wasn’t a bad place to receive a piece of good news like that.”
Certainly not and, just a fortnight after that visit to California for the US Amateur Championship, MacIntyre, along with compatriot Connor Syme, is back in the City of Angels preparing for the 46th Walker Cup, which takes place next weekend at Los Angeles Country Club.
“Getting the kit the other day started to get the juices flowing,” MacIntyre told Scotland on Sunday. “Being in the squad was brilliant in the first place, but to then be named in the team was pretty special. The messages of congratulations I’ve received since it was announced has been constant and it really is great to feel I have so much support, especially from so many people at my home club.”
That really is the beauty of golf, isn’t it? You don’t necessarily have to be a member of a big fancy club to make headway in the game and MacIntyre is a perfect example of that. He’s been on an upward trend ever since becoming the first player to win the Scottish youths’ and boys’ stroke-play titles in the same year in 2013. He then claimed the Scottish Amateur Championship at Muirfield in 2015 before reaching the final of the Amateur Championship the following year at Royal Porthcawl. His match-play record is very impressive, which bodes well for this test.
“I think the fact I’m quite relaxed on and off the course helps a lot in match-play,” said MacIntyre, who has just signed with Edinburgh-based Bounce Sport in preparation for his switch to the paid ranks. “If you make 10 at a hole in a stroke-play event, you might as well pack your bags. In match-play, that’s not the case, so you have more freedom. That lets you go out and enjoy yourself a bit more and I like that.”
In a world where people seem uptight all the time, MacIntyre is also refreshingly laid-back. “I find that if you get over-excited, then you don’t really do yourself any favours,” he added. “I try to stay chilled and enjoy the moment.”
That attitude has helped him deal with an unfortunate late development for Great Britain & Ireland. Craig Watson, who was set to captain the team for the first time, stepped down on Wednesday due to a family illness, with Welshman Andrew Ingram, the chairman of selectors, stepping in as acting captain.
“I was totally shocked when I woke up to the e-mail about Craig,” said MacIntyre, who is coached by Kingsfield Golf Centre-based David Burns. “I was gutted but family comes first and hopefully we can go out there and do the business for Craig. Andy is really good. I think it was at the Amateur Championship last year that I first met him, and he’s down to earth and chilled out, a bit like Craig to be honest. It’s not like we’ve gone to different postcodes with this change.”
Two years ago, Ewen Ferguson, Grant Forrest and Jack McDonald helped Great Britain & Ireland pull off a 16½-9½ victory – their greatest winning margin in a contest first played in 1922 – at Royal Lytham. Now MacIntyre and Syme, who are both inside the top 15 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, are hoping to emulate the 1989 and 2001 sides by winning on US soil.
“Seeing them lift the trophy at Lytham was cool,” admitted MacIntyre, who could well be paired with Alfie Plant, the Silver Medal winner in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, after being comfortable in the Englishman’s company over the last couple of years. “You have to take everything you can from an experience like this.”
One disappointment for MacIntyre is that the cost of travelling out to California has prohibited any of his family members making the journey. “It is hard for them not to be coming out to watch me, but they will be watching my every move on TV and I will be trying to do them proud,” he said. “The people I stayed with during the US Amateur are going to come and watch, though. It’s almost a home away from home, to be honest. It’s just six miles from where we were a couple of weeks ago and that is pretty cool.”