Last summer amateur Euan McIntosh landed his national title. If things go to plan he might be taking on the Americans at Hoylake in September
The amateur golfing world is generally a sea of teens and 20-somethings, logoed and often identical clothing, gelled hair, bouncy gaits, rapid and beautiful swings and dreams of the European Tour and, most likely, beyond.
It’s the week of the Brabazon at Alwoodley and, come the end of it, a 16-year-old from Rotherham, Ben Schmidt, will breeze to the title by five shots after an incredible four days.
But the person I’m on the look out for is far removed from most of his peers and is comfortably old enough to be everyone’s dad.
For Euan McIntosh, who turned 50 in February, this is his second coming. Just this past weekend he landed the Tennant Cup, the oldest open amateur strokeplay competition in the world, with a closing round of 62 at Killermont.
Last year he won the Scottish Amateur at Blairgowrie and, on Saturday September 7, he’s hoping to line up for Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup.
In April he was named in a squad for Royal Liverpool, the next oldest player was 26.
How big a focus is the Walker Cup for you this year?
I did the Q Schools in Europe and the States and I missed out on both at the end of last year so I was pretty much devastated but the Walker Cup has given me an extra focus. I thought this year would be a case of waiting to do the Q Schools again, now (there’s an) opportunity to really focus on something else.
How different are you from the 20-year-old you?
I still have my moments mentally, I’m quite hard on myself but I’m much better than it used to be. I’m able to now think my way better round a course, I’ll work back from the flag to the tee and think what club do I hit off the tee to let me hit a scoring club to try and make birdie.
Young guys hit it so far now that they can hit more drivers, I play bit more strategic.
Does it bother you how far they hit it?
I don’t give it a second thought particularly if playing against them, it’s great as I’ll be hitting in first. I’m not mega short, I can still run it out over 300 yards if I hit a good one. I can carry it 265 so I can still give it a hit.
You must be pretty fit?
I used to do a lot of sports when I was younger so I’m relatively fit and I don’t drink any more. My last drink was nine months ago, I used to like to have a really good time and that was one of my downfalls. I did it all wrong first time but that’s what you do when you’re wrong.
Body-wise playing 36 holes in a day is tough. I had a bit of sciatica for quite a bit last year and that sprung up when I woke up for the Scottish Amateur final. I thought here we go again but I chipped and putted fantastically. I didn’t take any painkillers, I just tried to stretch a lot.
It wasn’t as bad as the Brabazon last year, I hit a tee shot and couldn’t feel my leg at all for about half the hole. So I was walking slowly to try and get some feeling back but it’s a lot better now.
You credited Ian Rae with helping you to the win at Blairgowrie?
In matchplay I had become focused on what my opponent was doing and it was detracting from what I was doing. He said ‘it’s what you’ve got to do, what are you going to do?’ and that just relaxed me. It resonated with me and really helped.
How close did you get to the Walker Cup as a youngster?
I played pretty well in 1990 and then turned pro. I would maybe have been a consideration for Portmarnock in 1991. I got to a good level so I thought why not turn pro, maybe I should have waited a year and given myself an opportunity.
What was your early career like?
I played Challenge Tour, a bit in Asia and all over, anywhere just to get some money and keep playing. Obviously there were no sponsors around then.
It was the early days of the Challenge Tour and I loved it but it was expensive. It would cost you £1,000 for a week in Sweden so you had to finish in the top five. I played PGA stuff in Scotland and played in everything that I could, so any pro-am anywhere, but I enjoyed it.
It’s a bit different now as a lot of the young guys now want you to do well and say good shot, if you were watching someone hole a 30-footer back then that would be the last thing that you would be thinking! That has changed my mentality for these days.
You then played a full season on the Challenge Tour in 2003, how did that come about?
I taught in Germany for a year and a guy there asked if I wanted to play again. I had had two years out but I then played the Pro Golf Tour there and managed to get in the top third and I won three times and I thought here we go again.
So I played the Challenge Tour and I played in the Austrian Open and finished double-bogey/bogey to miss the cut by one and I said to myself that was enough. I had already entered the event in Wales but I knew then that was it and that I was going to stop.
Basically I gave it up completely and for the next 10-12 I played around 25 times. I worked for various companies in golf and we did corporate events all over the world for eight years. I was always going to stay in golf, that’s all you can do.
How did you end up where you are now from that point?
I was playing with clients a bit and thought ‘this is OK’. It was terrible in the beginning, I was shooting in the mid 80s and I didn’t know which side of the course it was going. I remember standing on the tee of a 400-yard par 4 and I looked at the fairway and thought how am I going to get it anywhere near the fairway? I must have stood over the ball for an eternity and hit it maybe 70 yards right of the fairway.
Then you get the bug back for it, kept on playing and it was OK and the seniors was only three years away.
How easy was it to get your amateur status back in 2015?
Really easy, it’s basically down to how much money you’ve made. I put my scores in and I got a handicap of 1 which I thought was really nasty. Now it’s +4.
What advice would you give all these youngsters that are thinking of joining the paid ranks soon?
If you’ve reached a certain level then don’t wait, you only start properly learning when you turn pro. Some guys wait too long thinking they’re not good enough. And never give up, you don’t have to be the most gifted guy but you can still make millions.
What I would say is that the courses that we play are not a good breeding ground for turning pro, you won’t get used to shooting loads under par. If you’re good enough then you’ll get there at the end but it will be harder at the beginning.