THERE are a heck of a lot of things to think about in golf. For some of us, the sheer volume of doom-laden thoughts flooding a feeble mind can lead to the kind of disastrous decision making usually reserved for a panic-stricken pheasant darting about the grass verges of a busy A-road.

As for Euan McIntosh? Well, the decision he made to return to the amateur ranks in an effort to bolster his ambitions of a second coming as a professional on the over-50s circuit raised one or two eyebrows. “I think some people may have thought I was nuts,” he reflected with a wry chortle. “Maybe I did too?”

Nobody is thinking that now, of course. A maiden victory on the Legends Tour – formerly the European Senior Tour – in Austria last weekend was a thrilling reward for the 53-year-old’s drive and renewed dedication.

“I think it’s my first professional win since I won on the German Pro Golf Tour back in 2002,” he added. “Crikey, that’s 20 years between wins.”

Time flies. During those 20 years, McIntosh, who originally turned professional back in 1990, gave up golf for a spell then regained his amateur status. One of his first rounds back in the unpaid game was a shuddering 90 in a local medal at Turnhouse. What was he saying about the decision being nuts again?

Unbowed, McIntosh got the head down and put in the hard yards in his defiant, determined quest for improvement and fulfilment. At the age of 49 in 2018, the Glasgow-born golfer won the Scottish Amateur Championship, the oldest winner in over 30 years. Galvanised by that conquest, he made it through the Legends Tour’s qualifying school in 2020 and turned professional for a second time. Among the golden oldies, McIntosh savoured a silver lining with a first win last Sunday. It's been quite the journey.

“I was very determined to do this because I knew the mistakes I’d made that had stopped me competing when I first turned pro at 20, 21,” he said. “I had the ability but it was the other stuff that was sadly lacking. Mentally, I was nowhere near the standard required and I just didn’t dedicate myself. This time, I’m doing it the right way.

“The key to golf is to keep learning every single time you play. And you do. That’s the beauty of the game. You learn all the time. Getting my tour card and now winning has vindicated my decision to go for it again.”

The winning habit is something McIntosh got back into during a purposeful, rewarding spell as an amateur. In addition to the national title, he also enjoyed a Tennant Cup win, a couple of Leven Gold Medal triumphs and plenty of flirtations at the sharp end of affairs in various events on the circuit.

“Some people say winning at amateur golf is not the same as professional golf,” McIntosh said. “But winning is winning at any level. You have to get it done. And not everybody does it. When you are in contention, you can go back to certain times and draw on experiences. With a couple of holes to play, the body might want to jump out of its skin and disappear but the mind finds a way to keep calm. If your mind is clear, you can do things and I used the experience I had gained from amateur golf last Sunday. I felt comfortable when it came to the crunch.”

Against a field of former European Tour winners and past Ryder Cup campaigners, McIntosh, whose rookie season on the over-50s circuit was wiped put by the pandemic, knocked off a memorable success worth £32,000 in just his 10th start on senior service.

“I think it was going to be hard to top the Scottish Amateur win just because of my age at the time and all the nostalgia involved,” added McIntosh. “I put this win on the Legends Tour alongside it. They are different kinds of win but I’m unbelievably proud to have achieved both.”

The land of milk and honey that is the Champions Tour in the US remains the ultimate goal for McIntosh. “At this age, though, you never know how long your competitive window will be open,” he said. “There could be injuries too. Not many sports allow you a fresh start on your 50s so you just have to make hay while the sun shines.”