Derek Ingram, the head coach of Golf Canada’s men’s team, has a simple explanation for why Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald is playing some of the best golf of his career these days.
It has nothing to do with the position of his club at the top of the backswing or a new putting grip.
“He’s realizing he’s good,” said Ingram.
Good could be an understatement if Macdonald’s recent results are any indication. He’s posted three top-10 finishes in his past four starts on the Korn Ferry Tour and compiled a mark of 45 under par in the quartet of events.
“The game’s been good,” said Macdonald. “I have a pretty good formula that works for me and I’ve just been improving it and working on it for a while now.”
Of Canada’s players on the Korn Ferry Tour, Macdonald has not received as much notoriety as long-hitting Taylor Pendrith or tournament winner Adam Svensson, but if he continues to play as he has of late, he has a chance of joining those two on the PGA Tour next season.
Last week, a tie for third at the Rex Hospital Open moved him inside the top 75 on the Korn Ferry points list. Those inside that mark at the end of the regular season advance to the playoffs where PGA Tour cards are up for grabs.
“I’m definitely in a good spot but there’s still a lot of golf before the playoffs,” said Macdonald. “I’m not even really looking at that yet. I have a lot of work left to do.”
The 26-year-old has taken a circuitous route to reach his present spot in the golf world. He attended Purdue University on a golf scholarship and then spent time on a variety of tours, including the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada and a full season on PGA Tour China.
When asked if he learned anything about his year in China where he finished 32nd on the money list, Macdonald was blunt.
“I learned that I never want to go back there,” he said.
He may have been forced into a return to that circuit if not for a significant meeting with Ingram in January 2020. While attending a training camp in Phoenix, Ingram told him he should fly to Florida and try his hand at a Monday qualifying event for the Korn Ferry Tour’s stop in Panama.
“There were going to be 14 guys for two spots,” recalled Macdonald. “It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. But I thought it over and decided to go.”
It was a good decision. He earned one of those two spots and finished tied for 42nd, which got him into the next three events and parlayed those into the status he now maintains.
“A lot of rational guys probably would have seen it as a waste of money,” said Ingram. “The odds were long, but that’s what we do in this game. We’re part gamblers, we take those risks. I knew he had the game and I’m glad it worked for him.”
Ingram believes Macdonald has the talent to make the next jump, up to the PGA Tour. He has seen the maturity in his performance on the course and the self-belief that has been so key in his good finishes.
Macdonald has also come to realize that sometimes less is more and that every performance comes with feedback.
“It’s a simple game that can be overcomplicated,” he said. “I’ve really tried to have a growth mindset every day and I think I learn a lot more on the weeks I don’t have my best stuff.”
These days, Macdonald is improving swing by swing and hopes that next season he can be another member of the Canadian contingent on the PGA Tour.