He was a Ryder Cup regular, European Tour order of merit winner and had a string of top 10 finishes in major tournaments to his name, so when it emerged that Nick Faldo was about to overhaul every aspect of his technique in pursuit of greater success the conventional wisdom was that he was out of his mind.

Not only was he already successful, his swing was among the sport’s most stylish, but he had worked out that it was too dependent on feel, not sufficiently repetitive to be relied upon under pressure, so set about rebuilding it. In competitive terms he went a long way backwards before there was any sign of progress, having to put up with countless know-it-all onlookers telling him he had done the wrong thing before, three years after his previous tour triumph, he finally won again. 

Two months after that Spanish Open success, a decade after his Ryder Cup debut, Faldo became a major winner at last and those of us who followed him round Muirfield on the final day of that 1987 Open Championship will never forget it, partly because of the almost robotic nature of the way he ground out what was dubbed the ‘par-fect’ round, 18 successive pars earning victory of a sort he believed he never could have achieved with his old swing.

He would go on to become the greatest European golfer of the modern era, winning six majors in all.

It is a tale that dates to before Stuart McInally was born so, naturally, he was unaware of it when I mentioned it to him this week, but the parallel with his own experience was not lost on the Scotland hooker. In many ways, though, given the much shorter career spans offered by the respective sports, the risk taken by a player universally known as “Rambo” was even greater. 

Good enough as a 21-year-old No.8 to pick up the man-of-the-match award in an away win at London Irish as he played a key role in helping Edinburgh reach the Heineken Cup semi-finals in 2011/12, McInally decided just a year later that a switch to the less glamorous, but technically highly demanding position of hooker was required if he was to fulfil his full potential. 

It seemed a strange choice, partly because he was already highly regarded as an admittedly relatively lightweight back-row forward, but also because his career was so advanced. While the man he was set to understudy, Ross Ford, had previously undergone the same process, he had done so as a teenager and, while he has gone on to become Scotland’s most capped player, it was telling that after his dynamism saw him capped as a 20-year-old replacement, another two and half years elapsed before he was trusted to start a Test match. 

McInally did not appear to have that sort of time available to learn his new trade. Even though he was capped in the summer of 2015 almost exactly two years after making the change of position, we naysayers consequently grew ever more confident in our pessimism about his chances of making it work as he struggled to get on the pitch to test himself, let alone seriously challenge the likes of Ford and Glasgow Warriors hooker Fraser Brown.

The past six months have, however vindicated his decision and it has seemed no coincidence that his play has reached new levels since the arrival of former international hooker Richard Cockerill as Edinburgh’s head coach, to the extent that even before Ford succumbed to a long-term injury the younger man was starting to gain favour. He has relished every moment.

“It’s been a great season,” said McInally. “I’ve had a lot of game time so it’s been brilliant for my development in that respect. I’m getting used to constantly throwing line-outs and scrummaging at a high level and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

While he baulks slightly when it is mentioned that some of his international performances this season were considered “world class”, there is obvious satisfaction at having been vindicated.

“It was frustrating, but I was very aware that I had Ross Ford ahead of me and I just had to bide my time, keep working hard and the opportunities would come along,” he explained. 

“I was very aware of why I did it. It was because I wanted to try to play for Scotland and I never let that goal disappear, even when I wasn’t playing. When I managed it that was great and this year I managed to play a few more games (for Scotland) and play a lot more for Edinburgh. From the day I switched position there were people telling me I should’ve stayed where I was, but the excitement of what I could potentially achieve at hooker was always there. It was just a case of remembering why I decided to move.”

There is obvious potential for his relationship with Ford to change now he is the man in possession, but he does not anticipate that happening. 

“It certainly speeded things up for me because he had made the same switch and was able to pass on some wisdom about the pitfalls he fell into and just made me aware there would be some dark times, so when they came I knew they were coming and wasn’t a surprise. It’s been invaluable for me having him around,” said McInally. 

“We’ve got a great relationship and try to help each other as much as we can. I’ve learned so much from his experience in the game and it’s funny, there’s not like a big shift in dynamic. Whenever the team gets named it’s about however we can best prepare that week. He’s only just back fit though, so I’m looking forward to having a good battle next year.”

The coming season will represent the build-up to a World Cup, something he missed out on four years ago after that international debut against Italy in August, 2015 and doubtless the neck injury that ruled him out then contributes to a wariness about looking too far ahead, his next international target being this summer’s American tour.

“If I’m selected for it I’ll be buzzing for it. It’s a great schedule, so we’ll see what comes when the squad gets picked but I’d love to go on it,” he said. 

“I’m just loving playing and if that means starting for Edinburgh that’s great, or if it means playing for Scotland, like I’ve been doing this year, it’s great. I just like playing rugby for Edinburgh and I like playing rugby for Scotland. You can’t beat it.”

n Stuart McInally was speaking to The Herald courtesy of Strathmore Water after working with Kirkcaldy RFC youngsters who won the Scotland sponsor’s ‘Do More Rugby Challenge’ competition