How Robert and Dougie MacIntyre brought light back to PGA Tour


Robert and Dougie MacIntyre (Image: Getty)

Argyll and Bute Council might want to begin their new working week by exploring a trans-Atlantic route from Oban Airport. The feasibility study should start at the MacIntyre family home in Glencruitten.

Last month, it was mother Carol who jetted out to Kentucky to provide the comforts of home cooking which nourished Robert MacIntyre to an eighth-placed finish at the PGA Championship in Valhalla, his best result at a Major on this side of the water. 

This week here, amid the undulating hills of the Niagara Escarpment, it was father Dougie’s turn to shake off last-minute jet lag and help his big boy to the brink of something even more special. 

Through three days of the RBC Canadian Open, it was the MacIntyre father-and-son story which captured the hearts minds and CBS TV microphones. With Dougie on the bag, Bob stitched together three stellar rounds of 64-66-66 to head back out Sunday evening with a four-shot lead on the rest. 

Back out and off to see what they could see — maybe a first PGA Tour victory on MacIntyre’s rookie season in North America, maybe not. On paper, a lot was riding on that binary result: $1.7m give or take, a place at the US Open in Pinehurst too. But off the paper, off the phone screens and the digital scoreboards scattered around Hamilton Golf and Country Club, the MacIntyres had already made a tangible real-world difference. In one of the darkest weeks the PGA Tour could remember, father and son had provided much-needed light and a bit of love, even if some of it was of the Oban-tough variety.

The loss of Grayson Murray to suicide the previous week hung over Hamilton in that way that suicide does. In waves that roll and crash but sometimes just lap in the distance. That drift out but always back in again. The tour-mates Murray left behind confronted his loss and how the game of golf can drive you to dark places. Golfers, ultimately, are a ‘vulnerable’ and ‘fragile’ lot, admitted Rory McIlroy on the tournament’s eve. All week, players and caddies wore green ribbons in honour of Murray, who had been public in his battles with addiction and psychological challenges. The message of the ribbons read “mental health is health”. 

A sport which can always do with a bit of perspective got more than it could remember.


“You know, look, after the news of the last week, golf is a lot bigger than the game of golf,” MacIntyre said Friday lunchtime after taking the halfway clubhouse lead. “We’re human beings. It’s about going out there. I’ve got my dad on the bag and we’re just trying to enjoy as much as we can because we don’t know how much longer we’ve got of that. It’s good to just spend an extra week with loved ones.”

There is, arguably, an important similarity between MacIntyre and Murray, gone tragically young at 30. The 2023 Ryder Cup hero hasn’t been afraid to be humble and open about his struggles with the isolation of this trade. A game that spends hours getting in your head and then sends you back to a sterile hotel room to ponder success and failure. Earlier in May MacIntyre talked about the loneliness he felt in his first year Stateside compared to life on the DP World Tour. 

On Wednesday evening on the practice greens here, he was quiet, doing his own thing. But he wasn’t alone now. Dougie had answered an SOS and flown out to be on his bag for the first time in a long time, Bob having chopped and changed caddies of late. Father oversaw son’s drills without too much interruption. A word here, a pointer there. But that’s sometimes what it takes and, in a heavy week like this, it was more than enough.  

“It’s just different, it hits differently, because he properly means it,” MacIntyre, still engaging and open, explained after a stunning back nine gave him his four-shot final-day cushion. “I know the caddies mean it for another reason, they’re obviously wanting us to do well. But my dad wants me to do well because we’re blood, you know what I mean? There’s nothing other than pride and guts and what we’re trying to do. 

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“He’s been through thick and thin with me. He taught me how to play the game of golf until I started working with a coach probably at about 14, 15. It was just me and him, my family going round four holes at Glencruitten Golf Club out the back of the house for many years.

“When he’s at home and I’m not doing well, he’s messaging me going, what the hell’s happening? What’s this, that? He gives me a bit of advice from afar. I’ve obviously got my swing coach, Simon Shanks, who has done a great job with me, but if in doubt the video goes back to my dad. We just got on so well and it’s tough love at times.”

Asked the previous evening what was one lesson he took from his father, MacIntyre curled a lip up and smiled “Along my life? Keep playing shinty.” When there was a brief Saturday wobble, some of Dougie’s simplest advice came from a shinty sideline: keep your bloody head up, stop “mumping and moaning about it”. 

MacIntyre went out Sunday hunting a first Scottish win on Tour since Martin Laird’s Shriners Children’s Open victory in 2020 and the first in the prime fillet of the season since Russell Knox won the Travelers Championship eight long years ago. Which just so happens to be as long as it had been since MacIntyre Sr. had been on the bag. 

With the season about to go into a meaty and meaningful eight-week stretch featuring two elevated-purse signature events, the US Open, Scottish Open and Open Championship at Troon, Dougie could have a hell of a summer job on his hands. “I think I might need to start negotiating a wage,” father had prodded son coming off the 18th ahead of the weekend here.

For another day, another week. But in this most challenging, confronting week, the MacIntyres had already found something to really value. More than enough. 

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