When Connor Syme tees off in the Open next week, there will be a familiar face in the crowd brimming with pride – his father and coach Stuart.
Syme battled through the gruelling 36-hole Final Open Qualifying at Gailes Links earlier this month to book his place at Royal Birkdale and, having attended the Open with Stuart almost every year since 2004, the pair will be savouring every moment.
“I can’t wait,” Stuart, who is the owner at Drumoig Golf Centre, told PGA.org. “To see that first ball in flight that he’s hit in the Open Championship, that’s going to be a big moment.
“I grew up in St Andrews so my first Open was 1978. As soon as Connor was old enough to, that would have been around 2004, we’ve gone together ever since.
“He loves it as well and so to see my son progress now to a level where he can play in it is just absolutely amazing."
Stuart has been a PGA professional for 26 years and has been heavily involved with Connor’s development from an early age.
“Everything that I believe about the golf swing is in this boy of mine,” added Stuart. “He’s managed to take on board everything that I saw in the golf swing.
“I won pro-ams and other events but over four rounds I always got found out. I could never get myself high enough on the leaderboard.
“When Connor began to show this positive attitude for golf as well that was what I was always trying to teach him.
“So it’s all worked out grand that I’ve been able to put my views into it and then an individual has been able to carry it out. For it to be my own son is an even bigger thrill.”
But how has it been juggling the roles of father and coach? Well, Stuart admits it can be quite difficult and is happy to take a back seat at Royal Birkdale, where he hopes Connor can take his career to the next level.
“I see my role very much as doing a lot of work with him back home. I occasionally go and watch him, because sometimes you have to go and watch a player as well.
“At the Open I’m going to love being with him on the practice green, but I’m very conscious of the fact that I’m his dad as well. I’ll be happy just to soak it all up in the background.
“We went along to watch Paul Dunne at St Andrews a couple of years ago. Connor knows Paul from playing amateur golf together. He knows the kind of standard of Paul’s game, compared to his own and Paul was leading the Open after three rounds.
“That shows that if you can get mentally correct going into the event, then it’s possible to do well.
“I wrote a plan with him when he as 15 up until he was 25 and it’s been amazing how he’s knocked off all the little challenges that I’ve given him.
“One of those challenges was to play in the Open and he’s managed to achieve it.”