In this week’s Player Blog Scottish rookie Robert MacIntyre opens up on his love for his hometown Oban, his passion for shinty, and how he still lives in the family home with his parents, and his foster siblings, Dan and Tom.
There’s nowhere like home. I live in a town on the west coast of Scotland and its spectacular when the weather is good, but grim when it’s poor. It’s a small seaside fishing town. It’s just as simple as that. I’ll never move away from Oban, though.
About 10,000 people live in the town, so it’s a small community – but it’s one that has always supported me. The golf club in particular have been brilliant all the way through. Folk from home are always messaging me to say ‘well done’ or are just checking in on how I’m doing. It’s just good to know that people back home are behind you. If something happened, they know that I’ve already achieved a lot that many others don’t. It’s brilliant.
I still live at home with my parents and my foster siblings. Dan, who is five, and Tom, who is 12, are the second set of foster kids my family have looked after. Before we had a boy and a girl, and they stayed with us for two years. This was at a time when I was away in the States at college, but they quickly became part of the family. The wee girl would do a lot with my two sisters while the wee boy would join me, playing football, shinty, golf, whatever a wee boy would do.
The way we see it is giving these kids something they wouldn’t have had otherwise. We have a German Shepherd at home who is brilliant with them. We open the doors on a nice day and the kids have the garden to play shinty, football, or just go on the climbing frame. I’ll even go out with them and play a game of football. It’s just about giving them freedom and my Mum does so much for them.
It’s about giving them an opportunity to better themselves, just like we’re all trying to do. I can’t say too much about it as it’s just normal family life for me. I guess Dan and Tom are just the lucky ones. There are others who don’t get that level of support. I go home and even though they drive you mental sometimes, it’s nice seeing them change so much. When I came back from a nine-week stretch on Tour they had grown up – even in that short time. It was brilliant to see.
There is no rush to move out for me as I’m so close with my family. If something comes up that I like I’ve now got the finances to do that, but it’s about getting the right place. I still need a few good results to help with the deposit, though!
My house in Oban overlooks the golf course. You can go from the 11th to the 12th tee by my house. I was brought up there. My Dad is the head greenskeeper at Glencruitten Golf Club, just one of two greenskeepers there. It’s very hilly, making it a tough place to work – but he does a great job.
Golf isn’t my favourite sport – it’s shinty. I played competitively until I was 17, and I still go to training when I’m home with. It’s just for a bit of fun, nothing serious. It just takes your mind off the game of golf when I’m home. You get battered and bruised but I love it. You can’t get me away from it! I don’t play it competitively now, it’s just too much of a risk for me when I’m home I go to training. A lot of my mates are in the team and my Dad coaches the team, called the Oban Saints. I can go there and relax, which is important as you need something outside of golf.
I’m not a gym freak, I don’t like running on treadmills – I’d rather be outside playing shinty or football. Playing shinty just gives you that buzz again.
Say something happens in my life and golf is no longer a priority for me, or I can’t keep playing, then I would go back to Oban, get a job and play shinty. I really wouldn't be disappointed. People think this life is glorious, travelling around the world and staying in hotels. When I was away recently for nine weeks, I started to get fed up. You can make a good living sure, but money doesn’t give you everything. It’s about being happy. I just do things that make me happy. See if it doesn’t please people – I’m doing it because I’m happy doing it. Who knows, I might play a wee game of shinty when the season is finished.
If I wasn’t playing golf, I would’ve probably got an apprenticeship and started working as a joiner. The golf has worked out so far, though, so no point in worrying about that too much!
I really think that I can go far in this sport. So far, I’ve managed to get into some featured groups, playing with the like of Ernie Els and Tommy Fleetwood. Watching those guys, you take a step back and go “I’m 22-years-old, am I far away?” I can compete here at this age, so if I can stay around here until I'm 26 or 27 years old then you don't know where it might take you. It’s just about learning from these guys and progressing. That’s all I’m trying to do. If I keep doing that I don't know where I’ll be.
Ernie was great. He didn't give me tips as such, but he was telling stories and inside that story was a hint to you to say ‘don't do this’ or ‘I did this when I was younger, watch what you’re doing.’
All the Scottish guys have also been so good with me. It’s good to have guys like that who know the ins and outs, know the places to go, the places to stay. It’s also nice to have other Scottish Challenge Tour graduates on Tour with me. Last night I was having dinner with Grant Forrest and David Law which really helps when you’re away. There aren’t actually many guys out here who I was brought up with, other than the Challenge Tour guys. But that’s life. You start a new job and you don’t know anyone, so it’s about finding your feet, finding new friends and just getting your head down and working. It’s just a comfort thing. I’m a family guy so I need to feel comfortable in what I’m doing.
Seeing other young guys from Oban do well in other sports definitely spurs me on. Seeing Magnus Bradbury score a try against England at Twickenham, or Jon McPhee compete on the Moto GP circuit, is really cool. To see guys competing on a world level it helps you a lot – knowing we’re all helping to put our town on the map is a great feeling.
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