I was introduced to Bob McIntyre during a Monday afternoon in September 1959, on the first tee of the Broadmoor East golf course. We weren't there to begin a round. My longest ball wouldn't have reached the fairway. The only thing Bob had a chance of driving straight was the golf cart.
A recent addition to the Gazette-Telegraph sports staff, I'd been assigned by editor Sturdy Pexton to contribute a feature article on a young player entered in the U.S. Men's Amateur, which was beginning a week-long run over the local layout. The Broadmoor's official photographer and a developing local legend, McIntyre was to contribute pictures and serve as my guide.
Our subject was located at the sixth green, where he was lining up a 6-foot putt. Unaware then that surfaces on a mountainside course often are misleading and therefore treacherous, I watched with astonishment as the stroked ball rolled past the cup and nearly off the green. "Why would Pexton want me to do a story on this guy?" I said to McIntyre. "He can't even play."
Six days later we were standing alongside the 18th green where the same young man was lining up an 8-foot putt. The ball dropped for a birdie 3, and 18-year-old Jack Nicklaus had become the 1959 U.S. Amateur champion.
McIntyre caught the moment on film, then turned to me and said, "Have you given any thought to an alternative profession?"
Fact is, I remained with it for 43-years, or seven less than Bob McIntyre devoted to The Broadmoor. Long before I left Colorado Springs in 1966 to join the Philadelphia Daily News, "Mac" and I had become close friends. After my wife, Lois, and I were wed in June 1961, that relationship expanded to family-wide (Bob and wife, Roberta, had married in 1957).
We were invited for weekend stays at the McIntyres' cabin alongside the Blue River near Breckenridge. There were frequent bridge games, memories of which provide an opening to mention another of Mac's talents. The camera was his window to professional success, but he also was adept at manipulating the outcome of gin rummy games. It was not unusual for one of our captains of industry to leave a card room at the Broadmoor Golf Club with lightened wallet.
McIntyre's dexterity with a camera included an amazing ability to somehow maneuver the lens around an ever-present cigar. I once asked how often a cigar stub showed up on his negatives. He just laughed and lit another one.
The memories are special now, more profound because we once again are residents of Colorado Springs, had resumed a relationship that was interrupted during the 35 years we lived elsewhere, and because one afternoon last month Bob McIntyre died unexpectedly at age 83.
There was a memorial celebration of his life Wednesday evening at Broadmoor West, the hotel wing where dozens of photographs he took of celebrity visitors, including seven U.S. presidents, are displayed on walls along two corridors. Those will remain as a lasting tribute, but one with an asterisk. It would significantly diminish what McIntyre was as a professional if that display comes to be regarded as the hallmark of his talent.
"I think he really tried to capture facets of people's personalities when he photographed them," Roberta McIntyre said during a lunch conversation last week. "It wasn't just smile and snap."
That would be consistent with his commitment to excellence. But portrait photography was on the income side of the ledger. His true shutter buttons were pushed when advances in photographic technology provided the panoramic camera, which enabled him to capture the unusual with a more defining eye ... and later, when there was luxury of time, the splendor of western landscapes. Monument Valley, scenes from the Western Slope, eye-catching formations in Utah parks.
On another long-ago afternoon at a Broadmoor golf course, I was standing alongside McIntyre and heard the click as a putt that became the championship stroke at a World Seniors Golf Tournament dropped. Later I saw the print. He'd caught the ball half-in, half-out of the hole.
"I've never seen that done with a winning putt," I told him.
So, over the next two years he did it again. Twice.
"He did have a great sense of how to stop action at the exact moment," says Roberta McIntyre.
When they first met during the late 1950s Roberta was a reporter for the Colorado Springs Free Press (later for the local Rocky Mountain News bureau). Her ability to provide press credentials on several occasions made access to special events possible for her husband — including one where Mac captured one of his most memorable images — that of Air Force Academy cadets who had fainted and fallen from ranks during a graduation ceremony, lying at what would appear to be attention.
During the years away from this city, I worked with highly skilled newspaper photographers in Philadelphia and San Diego. And at major events, alongside those from major publications like Sports Illustrated. Few, if any, were as skilled Bob McIntyre.
I once asked if he'd considered offering his talent to a venue where exposure would be national, even international. He admitted having had contact with National Geographic.
"You'd have to travel half of the year," Mac said. "No way I'm spending that much time away from Colorado Springs."
"I knew how good he was, and I encouraged him to pursue something like that," Roberta says. "But, he knew who he was. His level of ambition did not tolerate leaving Colorado. He absolutely loved this city. And, he loved The Broadmoor."
The affection was mutual. The photographer and the man who for many years occupied the power seat at that formidable fortress for the rich and famous, Thayer Tutt, were friends, drinking partners. Bob McIntyre was a pallbearer at Thayer Tutt's 1989 funeral.
On a morning long ago when our son, Scott — born the same year as Julie, one of the McIntyres' two daughters (Jenny had arrived three years earlier) — was several months into his life cycle, Mac devoted at least an hour to snapping shots of him as he crawled around the living room of our home. We hadn't asked. He just showed. It was something he wanted to do.
Years later when Scott was able to swing a golf club far better than most of us, Mac made certain he had an opportunity to play several holes on a Broadmoor course.
"I remember that day," Scott said, when I told him during a recent phone conversation that Bob McIntyre had died. "When he met us he had a cigar in one hand and some kind of drink in the other. I don't recall anything about the golf. I know we laughed a lot.
"As I recall he wasn't very tall. But there was something about him that seemed larger than life."
Longtime sportswriter, editor and author Tom Cushman now divides his time between Colorado Springs and San Diego.