WE all have to leave our youth behind at some point. Look, there it is, sobbing and waving in your rear-view mirror as you drive off down the long highway of the ageing process.
In this Royal & Ancient game, however, the advancing years at least offer a chance to turn the competitive clock back as you become a young ‘un again on the senior circuit.
Now a sprightly 51, Glasgow-born golfer Euan McIntosh should have been savouring his rookie season among the golden oldies of the European scene.
Having earned his tour card for the recently rebranded Legends Tour at the start of the year, McIntosh turned professional for the second time in his career, three decades after his first plunge into the paid ranks.
But then that bloomin’ thing that you’re no doubt sick of reading about – and that’s coronavirus, not Trump and Biden – flung a massive spanner in the works and the Legends Tour for 2020 was completely cancelled.
It wasn’t just events that evaporated. “My game just disappeared completely,” said McIntosh of the kind of deflation you’d get when a hovercraft pilot finishes his shift. “I just lost interest.
“I was playing in one of Paul Lawrie’s events at Carnoustie and in the second round I shot millions. It was the worst I’d played in 25 years. I hit a tee shot off the seventh and my concentration just went. I could’ve walked off the course there and then.
“It was like someone letting air out of a balloon. It had been coming but I didn’t realise it was coming. It was bizarre. I thought to myself, ‘that’s enough’. I needed time to get my head round the fact that I wouldn’t be playing on the Senior Tour this year.”
Across the golfing spectrum, hopes, dreams and opportunities have been put into cold storage. “I feel for the younger players starting out,” added McIntosh, who won the Scottish Amateur Championship in 2018 at the age of 49 and became the oldest player to win that particular title since the celebrated Charlie Green back in 1983.
Like many professionals in Scotland and beyond, McIntosh joined the massed ranks of wandering nomads looking for some competitive golf.
It’s a good job the cradle of the game has welcoming, pro-active souls who have provided a sanctuary for the needy.
In addition to John Henry’s well-established Big Johnson’s Tour and Alan Tait’s new Get Back to Golf Tour, Paul Lawrie’s freshly-formed Tartan Pro Tour was a valuable addition to the domestic scene as all manner of players, male and female, at least got the chance to keep the instincts relatively sharp.
“It’s been something of a God send at this time of the year,” admitted McIntosh of Lawrie’s series of events.
The former Open champion Lawrie, a winner on the European senior circuit in his rookie season last year, will be a force to be reckoned with again when the over-50s circuit resumes in 2021.
As for McIntosh? Well, he’s relishing the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Lawrie and the other decorated names on the senior scene.
“I actually played with Paul in the last round of the event he won at Montrose and he was fantastic,” cooed McIntosh. “I hadn’t played with Paul since a Scottish PGA Championship in about 1994. When you haven’t played with someone for so long you realise how good he is.”
“But golf is just a number. I just look at what total I think will win, not who’s going to win. The senior scene will be tough but I’m very much up for it. It will be a great challenge. I’ll still be a young one on the tour. I just need to knock off the excess lockdown weight.”
Don’t we all?
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