Mention the name ‘Maurice Flitcroft’ to anybody involved with R&A officialdom and there’s a good chance they’ll let out the kind of agonised wail and shriek you’d hear if a banshee had to perform an exorcism on a werewolf.

The intrepid, eccentric Flitcroft, of course, kicked up a right old racket back in 1976 when his hopelessly misguided yet wonderfully beguiling dream of competing alongside “Jack Nicklaus and all that lot” in the Open at Royal Birkdale sparked so much tut-tutting, head-shaking and hand-wringing among the R&A high heid yins, the turbulence of said agitation just about bent the Claret Jug out of shape.

The infamous tale of Flitcroft is well-documented. But, sod it, let’s briefly document it again. Having entered the final qualifier at Formby as a professional – he wasn’t - the Barrow crane driver cobbled together an eye-watering 49-over 121 during a chaotic round which one observer described as a "blizzard of triple and quadruple bogeys ruined by a solitary par.”

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Defiant and enterprising, Flitcroft remained unbowed and would bluff his way into future Open qualifiers using false names and donning fake moustaches while flustered R&A bigwigs just about had to chase him off the premises in scenes of comical pandemonium broadly reminiscent of the accelerated pursuits at the end of The Benny Hill Show.

Flitcroft’s acts of cunning, yet ultimately calamitous subterfuge have gone down in golfing history. And, whenever some hapless hopeful endures a disastrous day at Open qualifying, Flitcroft’s name invariably pops up. Today across 13 venues in the UK and Ireland, hundreds of players, from up-and-coming amateurs, club professionals, has-beens, never-have-beens and never-will-bes, begin the long road to the Open in the 18-hole regional qualifying round.

Just over a decade ago, a gentleman by the name of John Spreadborough stood on the first tee at Musselburgh and, with a swing which looked a bit like some kind of desperate swipe you would have employed on the battlefield of Culloden, embarked on a qualifying campaign which raised more eyebrows than a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon. “Maurice Flitcroft revisted?,” reflected Nigel Watt, a long-serving referee who was officiating that day in 2008.

On a card strewn with debris, Spreadborough scribbled down halves of 52 and 47 for a 99. The 44-year-old had a 13 at the par-5 seventh and an 11 at the par-5 12th. He did, however, finish with three straight pars to break 100 with the kind of rousing late flourish that, in the circumstances, should have been accompanied by the 20th Century Fox fanfare.

“Three pars to finish is no mean feat at Musselburgh,” added Watt with a wry chuckle. “We got wind of what was going on when one of my colleagues phoned in and said ‘we may need to keep an eye on this guy’. The worry when there is someone like that is how it will affect the pace of play and how it will affect his playing partners. In fact, he played quite briskly. He hit a lot of shots … but he hit them quickly. They have tried to tighten up the entries these days. It’s easier to analyse the amateurs because of their handicap, with the pros it’s much more difficult. Spreadborough was down as a pro so it was accepted bona fide.”

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Spreadborough had indeed entered a professional but a quick post-round blether heightened the suspicions. “I put the Brucefields facility down as an attachment as I don’t have a handicap,” he said before beating a hasty retreat.

One R&A PR man, keen to temper any Flitcroft-esque publicity, actually phoned up to try to stop the press pack relaying the news but by that time Spreadborough’s tale was already a story. “It’s not the headlines you want at this type of event,” conceded Watt, who has officiated across the golfing spectrum in 47 different countries. “You want more upbeat tales. One of my favourites, for instance, was Lloyd Saltman (the Scottish Walker Cup player) in 2005 who came through a regional qualifying play-off then, in a 96-man field for just three places in the final qualifying at Scotscraig got through that and eventually finished 15th in the Open and won the silver medal. There was Lloyd standing next to Tiger and Monty, who were first and second, at the prize giving. It was a great amateur story.”

Despite his 99, the bold Spreadborough still savoured his taste of the game's oldest major in its earliest stage. “Everybody dreams of playing in the Open,” he said at the time. Hundreds of other dreamers will give it a go today.