An old pro who loves his mom-in-law: ‘It’s the head shots’

The golfer who loves his mother-in-law even when she forgets to give him a few bucks, even when he shoots 80, is Hoyle MacAulay. No matter what, he will figure out a way to take care of his mother-in-law.

On Sunday, Hoyle MacAulay will be in the company of so many other golfing stars that he can identify them all. When he plays in the ACE Group Classic at Grey Silo in Tampa, Fla., he’ll be representing three different nations — Ireland, Canada and the U.S.

Playing a PGA Tour event at age 45 isn’t something we expect from a man nicknamed the “Rain Man of golf.” Hoyle MacAulay has always been the man with the magic touch, and he got that the first time he took a swing on a local Florida course.

The move surprised everyone but Hoyle himself. He was about 18 and playing a practice round in Bradenton, Fla., when his shots began to take on a surreal quality. He saw suddenly everything looked like a movie set, or like things were happening outside the clubs. The group ahead of him couldn’t believe what they were seeing, but Hoyle was already getting something out of it.

“They were thinking, ‘He hit a drive; he didn’t hit a drive, but he hit a drive.’ And they looked at the next shot and said, ‘It’s the same,’ ” Hoyle recalls. “And they looked at the next shot and they were saying, ‘But it’s not the same; there’s an obvious difference.’ I said, ‘Yeah, if I play my mind like the head shots, I’ll hit all these shots.’ “

He won enough tournaments in the years that followed to become an assistant pro at the College Park Golf Course in South Florida, and then a pro at Gulf Breeze, Fla. Before he hit his 40th birthday, he married the former Heather Taylor and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. On Friday, Hoyle won the ACE Group Classic’s Champions Challenge, a charity event.

But nothing made Hoyle’s life better than his relationship with his mother-in-law. Hoyle and his family have a comfortable life in Ireland. Heather wouldn’t necessarily have fit in if she’d stayed in Ireland, Hoyle said. But that family keeps her in mind.

“If you have that support and that loving spirit, it’s just going to be good. Her temperament is better than mine,” Hoyle said. “It just goes to show that she has really good strength, balance and resolution in her life.”

Hoyle MacAulay grew up with the chip on his shoulder.

“I’m not someone who wanted to let people or lead people on, or be the brightest thing going,” he said. “To be the sort of guy who’s always going to make things up, it just wasn’t my personality. I’ve always been more a, ‘I’m not going to talk to you and have a conversation; just get to work, and the next time we get along, I’ll talk to you.’ “

The approach continued to pay off when he turned 40. Not long after that, Hoyle was deciding whether he wanted to play professional golf for the rest of his life. He told his sons that he’d be going back to school to get his degree. He talked about what he’d learn if he went back to school, and his sons suggested that perhaps a degree could get him a real job after his golf career.

When Hoyle looks back, he looks at that moment as a turning point. When he was growing up, he never questioned whether he should go to school, but once he entered college, he began to doubt that playing golf would actually get him a real job. But after all the hard work and the hours spent grinding out success on the golf course, it wasn’t just the money.

“The real thing that really attracted me was getting the education,” Hoyle said. “If you look at people my age and the age I am, I think it can be a bit discouraging. It can be difficult. What’s the next thing you do if you lose golf?

“I like golf so much that if I could go for it full-time, for sure I’d do it. But it’s not something I see myself doing full-time, career.”

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