OPINION

Robert MacIntyre: The masterful apprentice

Robert Mac Intyre Rookie Of The Year

Here’s one for you: what do you get when you add talent to hard work and multiple the result with copious amounts of humility?

Answer: Robert MacIntyre.

The 23-year-old Obanite is the toast of Scottish golf after becoming the first player from the cradle of the game to win the European Tour Rookie of the Year honour since Marc Warren in 2006.

The left-hander’s name will soon be engraved on the Sir Henry Cotton Trophy, taking its place alongside the likes of Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal after a truly superb debut season on the tour.

Just look at the numbers: seven top-10s; three runner-up finishes; over €2million earned; 25 cuts made from 30 starts; tied-sixth on his major championship debut; up from 247th on the Official World Golf Ranking at the start of 2019 and into the top-70; not forgetting, of course, 11th overall on the Race To Dubai.

Plenty of players who have been around for far longer have achieved far less.

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He has travelled to 22 different countries in the last 12 months chasing a dream and yet if you were to ask him where he is happiest, he’ll point you in the direction of Oban.

“People keeping asking me when I’m going to move away,” he told me earlier this year in the modest clubhouse of Glencruitten, where he learned to play the game and where his dad is the head greenkeeper. “Simple answer? Never. I love it here. You drive into the town on a sunny day and it’s just beautiful, it’s busy, there’s a real buzz about the place. But then I can come up to the golf club and it’s out of the way, it’s quiet. It’s got everything I need and want.

“I’m an Oban boy and I don’t ever want to be anything else.”

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People might smile at this and call it “charming” or “endearing”, and it is. However, it’s much more than that. It’s a revealing insight into the D.N.A. of a young man who has his priorities perfectly set. 

MacIntyre isn’t playing golf to be rich and famous. He’s playing because it’s what he’s good at and what he wants to do.

Notice how you don’t see him fishing for hollow adulation on social media, or taking selfies in the gym, or tweeting quotes from ‘philosophers’, or flaunting his personal logo in a vain attempt to push ‘Brand Bob’.

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He gets on with his business, knuckles down, practices hard, makes mistakes, learns from them, goes again. All the while, his feet remain anchored to the ground, resisting the urge to toe-tap amidst the trappings of his success.

Other players his age with €2million in the bank would take a chunk of that cash and blow it on some souped-up, customised Lamborghini.

MacIntyre’s first big purchase? A new kitchen for his mum.

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His humility isn’t just a big part of what makes his so immensely likeable; it’s a monumental part of why he has been so successful so early into his professional career. 

A lot of young players don’t get it. They seem to want to be famous first and a golfer second. But being famous is easy. Being successful? That requires everything you’ve got.

It’s one thing to act like a professional golfer but unless you can play like one, you’re wasting your time.

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Watching the way MacIntyre plays and, just as importantly, conducts himself both on and off the course should be a requirement for any talented amateur who aspires to be a successful tour pro. It’s arguably the best lesson they’ll ever get.

In isolation, talent, desire and maturity are not enough. It’s the sum of all of these parts that add up to success.

MacIntyre has long since solved that puzzle. Greater tests now await him. How he tackles them promises to be a fascinating adventure.

Your thoughts?

What have you made of Robert MacIntyre's rookie season on the European Tour? What do you think the future holds for him? Leave your thoughts in our Comments section below.

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