Let’s face it, there’s never a good time for a global pandemic to make an appearance is there?  

Given the dismal chaos caused by the coronavirus over the last few turbulent months, the relatively simple old days of 2019 just about stir up the kind of dewy-eyed nostalgia that should be accompanied by a colliery brass band wistfully playing the tune from the Hovis bread advert.    

Robert MacIntyre has plenty of reasons to look back fondly on those seemingly carefree times of prosperity when he was a rookie on the European Tour and had built up a thrilling head of steam that used to be the reserve of Casey Jones.  

As the 2020 season birled in, MacIntyre began the new campaign with a sturdy top-10 finish in the Dubai Desert Classic. He was 65th on the world rankings and a debut at the Masters was very much in his sights.  

And then the world went to you know where in a caddie cart as Covid-19 swept in, tournaments were scrapped or postponed and the global game, like everything else, was plunged into disarray.  

“From a golfing perspective, I’ve not been at the races,” admitted the Oban left-hander of a frustrating year of disruption, thumb-twiddling, quarantine and irritating physical niggles.  

“Obviously it’s been hard to get things going. I’m a big fan of playing week-to-week and getting some momentum but that’s been difficult. Yes, it’s been largely disappointing but I’m still 68th on the Race to Dubai and I have to look at the bigger picture. I changed a lot of my golf due to the hand injury. Not mad changes but changes that needed to be done.  

"The Scottish Open recently (he finished tied 14th) showed me some good signs, it was a real eye-opener.”  

It’s been an eye-opening year all round for MacIntyre. He made the cut on his debut in both the US PGA Championship and the US Open while his decision to terminate his working relationship with caddie, Greg Milne, underlined the 24-year-old's business-like approach. It’s nothing personal and all that.   

“Down the line, I would say that Greg and myself will get back together again,” added MacIntyre of an alliance that spawned three runners-up finishes and a sixth place in The Open. “It happens with plenty of players and caddies. It’s trust isn’t it? I know how he works and vice versa. But we were just stuck in the mud and I felt we both needed new experiences.”  

Spending so much time in each other’s company can take a toll at the best of times but, with coronavirus limiting the freedom of movement and forcing touring partnerships into strict bubbles, it’s hardly surprising many players have felt the wearying effects of this golfing incarceration.  

“I have big sympathies with the players who have struggled,” said MacIntyre, who had to withdraw from last weekend’s Scottish Championship with a hip and back niggle. “Your mental health is more important than a golf tournament. The bubble is there so that we can play golf safely. Is it enjoyable? No. And if anyone says it is enjoyable, then they are off their heid.  

“The hardest one for me was at Valderrama for the Andalucia Masters. I was out very early one day and I was done by about 11 in the morning. It was too windy to even hit balls on the range so I just went back to the hotel and was stuck in there with basically 24 hours to fill before I teed-off again. It’s not easy. It was getting to me and I wasn’t enjoying it for a wee while.”  

Like all and sundry, MacIntyre has just had to get the head down and plough on although that can be easier said than done. The lack of spectators at hitherto jam-packed occasions would make an episode of One Man and his Dog look like a DeMille epic and the absence of a galvanising roar here or a cheer there from the galleries has been keenly felt. “You think back to things like last year’s Scottish Open, when I was in the marquee group with Rory (McIlroy) and Rickie (Fowler) and it was heaving and you feed off the energy,” he reflected. “But now, you make a big putt or produce a good shot and there’s nothing. You just have to gee yourself up on your own.”  

Having made great strides in the pro game, MacIntyre has now got his feet on the property ladder having bought his first pad in Oban. “I’m all grown up now and I just moved in this week,” he said with a chuckle before preparing to leave his own little bubble and get back into the European Tour’s bubble in Cyprus next week.  

It's onwards and, hopefully, upwards.