Two well-kent faces on the Capital golf scene are among the hopefuls in this season’s Staysure Tour Qualifying School, which begins today in Portugal.
Turnhouse star Euan McIntosh is in the field for one of the first-stage events, having had a crack at the over-50s circuit in his sights for the last few years.
And trying his luck as well in the other 36-hole shoot-out ahead of the final is former Dalmahoy director of golf Alan Tait, who is based in Edinburgh.
McIntosh, who won the Scottish Amateur Championship last season, came up agonisingly short in the Champions Tour equivalent towards the end of last year.
But he’s regrouped since that disappointment and is ready to go in his bid to clear a first hurdle at Gramacho Golf Club.
“The Q School for the Champions Tour went about as badly as it could have gone,” he said. “We played the tournaments in golf carts, which I found difficult concentration wise. You got to the ball so quickly totally different from playing an event where you have to walk.
“When I look back, I played pretty well tee to green, hitting 62 greens in regulation and managed to miss by one shot with 10 three putts in 72 holes.
“The greens had lots of grain, which totally scrambled my brain from the practice rounds to the event.
“Even though Barry Hume (his caddie that week) was fantastic at reading them, I just couldn’t get my head around hitting a putt that was nearly the opposite of how I saw it. I didn’t read a putt after round one.
“I’m not a great putter, but I don’t normally three putt. That said, the standard of golf out there from the rest of the field was fantastic – a 70-year-old shot 65 on day two – and way above what I expected.
“The good thing to take away from that US event to the European Seniors is to not have any preconceived ideas about anything. I am really looking forward to it and, if I can cut out the mistakes I made in the US, I have a good chance of fighting for a card at the end of the week.”
Tait, who is playing his stage-one event at Silves Golf, is heading into this week’s test with a totally different attitude to close friend McIntosh.
“I’m seeing it more like a busman’s holiday,” he said. “I’m looking at it more as a bit of golf with the sun on my face, a card in my hand, competitive golf, enjoy the experience and let’s see what happens.
“Either way, it’s annual leave and I’ll be back at work as soon as I get back home. I’m really looking forward to it. Realistically though, if I went to the bookies tomorrow and asked for a price for Euan and I to get our tour cards, I’d be expecting me to be about 500/1, with Euan around 20/1!”
After spells at both Dalmahoy and Deer Park, Tait is now working as the North East and Scotland representative for the 59 Club, a golf club management company.
“I only decided a matter of months ago to come out to Portugal,” he added. “A good friend of mine, Deer Park member John Bell, more or less said to me ‘go and have a crack big man, my company will help you out with some expenses and in turn, take me and my mates out for a game or two next year’.
“That was my mind made up. I thought ‘what the heck, what have I got to lose?’ I’m still young, still healthy and can still play a bit.
“At the end of the day, I know my long term future lies in golf club management, training and nurturing people in the industry, and passing down all the experience I have inherited in golf, both on and off the course. Anything after that, is a bonus.
“Whatever happens out here, it’ll be good fun and I’m looking forward to meeting up with guys who I haven’t seen for 30 plus years, when we were representing our respective European countries as boys and youths.”