Stephen Gallacher only ever had one other job than being a golfer, briefly as a porter in a hospital. It was enough to make sure he was going to play golf for a living as long as he could.
After 25 years as a professional, a Ryder Cup appearance and four wins, the Scot hits another milestone this week at the AVIV Dubai Championship, his 600th event on the European Tour.
Stevie had hoped to reach the mark at home at the scene of one of his wins, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. But changes in the tour’s schedule meant it’s Dubai instead, where he won two Desert Classics in successive years.
His other win was with son Jack on the bag in India in 2019, so “everyone has been special in its own way”.
‘To win at St Andrews is your dream as a boy’
“There’s been a story for every one of them,” he said. “I remember once looking at the field for the Dunhill the year I won it and it was some line up.
“And to win on the European Tour at St Andrews is your dream as a boy, especially for a Scot, isn’t it?
“Then, in Dubai, I played with Rory and Tiger the second year and the whole family were there to see that win, which was brilliant. To win with Jack on the bag in India was special as well, so it’s been good, that’s for sure.
“I’d like to notch another one, which would be even nicer.”
‘I’m blessed, really’
He says he’s been “incredibly lucky” to do what he loves for a living.
“Golf is all I wanted to do. I didn’t stay on at school because all I wanted to do was play golf. I worked in the hospital to make money so that I could turn pro and that was it.
“I’m blessed, really, and that’s why I’ve been so pleased to give something back to the game through my foundation.
“When you love the game and don’t mind the travel, you always want to keep going. I’m still fit enough and that’s the key. You need three or four factors to be on your side to keep notching up the appearances.
“Just take a look at Miguel Angel (Jimenez). He’s 58 years old and he’s made 21 cuts around Wentworth in the BMW PGA Championship. So more red wine and cigars it is!”
The top Scot is Sam Torrance with over 700 appearances. But there are only 13 other players and two other Scots – Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie, of course – who have got past 600.
‘I’m not going to stop now’
Great day up at St Andrews Fairmont today with the SGF Boys Performance Squad. 🏌🏼⛳️☀️🌧
A huge thank you to @FairmontStA for hosting us and allowing us to use their fantastic facilities 👏👏👏@stevieggolf @ScottishGolf @paullawriefound @GolfBible @BDFoundation_ pic.twitter.com/olW7mlm21D
— Stephen Gallacher Foundation (@sgfgolf) November 7, 2021
“It is a pretty good feat,” he said. “It’s been a great career and you are always hoping you can have an Indian summer as well.
“Getting the win in 2019 was good and it would be good to get another one and feel comfortable when I start playing seniors’ golf – that’s the goal.
“I’m not going to stop now. I’m going to keep working my backside off to keep going on the main tour for the next couple of years. Maybe try to have another 10 years at it mixed between the Seniors Tour and here.”
Inspired by his friend Paul Lawrie, Gallacher’s Foundation has proved a method for him to give back to the game, and he’s started to see fine young players come through.
“Ruben Lindsay and Connor Wilson, who played for Scotland in this year’s Home Internationals, both started with me in 2012, when the foundation was launched,” he said.
“There are a lot of players – girls as well as boys coming through the foundation who are really good.
In Scotland, we’ve also got Hannah Darling, of course. What a talent she is. She’ll be the next Leona Maguire, without a shadow of doubt.”
‘He’s going to get to the mid-600s’
The only current Tour Scot close to Stevie in longevity is David Drysdale, aiming for an 18th successive season in 2022.
“It’s a terrific achievement,” said Drysdale of his friend.
“Stevie is a wee bit older than me, though only just! When I was growing up Stevie, Dean Robertson and Raymond Russell were all very good at a very early age.
“I wasn’t actually aware of Stevie being a great ball-striker when I was a youngster. But I certainly became aware of it quickly when I got out here.
“He’s been a bit like me. I don’t think he’s really enjoyed the last two seasons due to the Covid restrictions.
“But Stevie still hits the ball great and is still long for his age. He’s exempt for another season, so at worst he’s going to get to the mid-600s, which is amazing.”