He could have been playing a Ryder Cup last weekend if things had worked out this summer. Instead Robert MacIntyre was playing the sport that “declutters my mind”.
That’s Shinty, one of the more dangerous games there is “with camans and bodies flying everywhere”. But for Bob it’s still the ultimate buzz and the way it mentally re-centres him from the stresses of big-time golf is crucial, he believes.
So he played full forward for Oban Celtic – the club his dad Dougie coaches – at the weekend as they beat Aberdour 8-0. Just a few days before the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship…
‘When it’s in your blood, you can’t just do it for fun’
Robert MacIntyre, long thought to be a potential captain’s pick by Padraig Harrington, was playing a game called Shinty this weekend.
Don’t know what that is but it looks awesome. pic.twitter.com/mDihh7AaWp
— Sean Zak (@Sean_Zak) September 26, 2021
“I’m the target man,” he laughed at St Andrews. “I’m not the leanest so I can take a good hit.
“People thought I was just going training with my pals and the team. But you can’t just do that.
“When it’s in your blood and you enjoy something so much, you can’t just do it for fun. You need a competitive edge.”
Shinty gives him the competitive buzz in a way that golf can’t match, he says.
“There are only four or five times a season where you get that buzz on a golf course, where you are in contention with a chance to win,” he said. “On a shinty pitch, I get that every 20 seconds.
“There are tackles coming in, there are bodies flying all over the place. It’s just the ultimate buzz. That’s the only way I can explain it.”
‘I’m big enough and bad enough to know the risks’
Forgot what I was doing for a minute…😜
— Robert MacIntyre (@robert1lefty) September 27, 2021
But with tackles, bodies and camans flying, there’s a real danger of an injury that could damage him for golf, is there not?
“I do wear a big hockey glove on my right hand because that’s the one you stretch in for tackles,” he said. “But when the going gets rough, I mean, I’m big enough and bad enough to know the risks that I’m taking.
“A lot of sports people have said the mental side of your life is more important than a game of golf.
“I would never schedule a shinty match ahead of golf. My golf is my No 1 priority and always will be.
“But it declutters my life. When you’re playing shinty the ball’s flying all over the place, people’s sticks flying about, and for me it takes my mind completely off of golf.
“That’s why everyone around me won’t say “don’t play”. It makes me enjoy golf more when I get back.
‘You could get close to No 1 in the world playing shinty’
📌 Thursday 0944@carnoustiegolf 👊🏽
📌 Friday 1123 @KingsbarnsGL 👊🏽
📌 Saturday 1028@TheHomeofGolf 👊🏽
— Bounce (@bouncespmgt) September 28, 2021
“I‘m in as good a mood this week as I’ve been since I went back to the States. I’ve been struggling a little bit but here I feel right back at home.
“There’s a couple of bruises but nothing I wouldn’t get running about at my mum’s.
“I’m 55th in the world playing shinty. I think you could get close to No 1 in the world playing shinty!”
He won’t play this Saturday in the local derby against Oban Camanachd, obviously.
“Depending on the result, I might put an outfit together on Saturday night,” he said. “I’ll obviously keep an eye on it, but, first and foremost, I am here to compete in a golf tournament.”
Bob hasn’t really reset since Wentworth, but wants to get out of the “plateau” he’s been on.
“I’m just trying to build on what I started the year on. If I go out here this week and I put on a good performance, those three missed cuts, no one’s talking about them.
“For me, I’m not really thinking about them, or I’m not thinking about them at all. I’m out here this week to try and win a golf tournament.”
‘Rome is going to be top of the list’
📸Bob played his final practice round at Carnoustie today with good mate Ewen Ferguson
— Robert MacIntyre Tracker (@tracker_robert) September 29, 2021
He got a commiserating call from Padraig Harrington just before the wildcards were announced, and although he didn’t watch all of Whistling Straits, there’s no question what the two-year goal is now.
“There were encouraging words from him,” added Bob. “I respected the guys he picked end of the day, top-class players. Obviously disappointed but that’s the way it goes.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen from here to Rome. Now I’ve got two years to achieve it, and I’ve just turned 25 years old.
“As much as I was trying to get on The Ryder Cup Team, I was trying to get my PGA Tour card, and that’s what’s best for my career, that’s what’s better for myself.
“But come the start of next season, there’s going to be goals set, and Rome is going to be top of the list.”