There’s a general feeling among those who follow amateur golf that the GB&I players who pitch up at Seminole in May for the Walker Cup against the USA will be as rusty as the wheel arch of an old Austin Allegro. But what do we know?

“Despite the perceived lack of preparation, I’m quite optimistic,” said the GB&I captain Stuart Wilson of this very different and very disrupted build up to the biennial transatlantic tussle.

In a normal world, before the coronavirus flung a huge spanner in all manner of works, Wilson would have been popping to events here, there and everywhere and exchanging opinions with his selectors about a player doing this, another player doing that and a few more players doing a bit of the other.

With the pandemic effectively wiping out most of the amateur scene on this side of the pond last year, however, there hasn’t been much for Wilson and his wingmen to mull over. “I’ve just about forgotten who my selectors are,” he added with a wry chuckle. “We had a meeting about this time last year at Porthcawl but things were just about to kick off in the pandemic and there’s not been much chat since as there has been so little tournament golf.”

Even the captain himself has had the nice little perks of the job snatched from his grasp. “I got asked to play in the Coleman Invitational at Seminole and that was going to be part of the Walker Cup reconnaissance mission,” added the 43-year-old from Forfar. “I’d not played a serious event for years but I was really up for that. I’d dusted down the clubs again. I was gutted it had to be called off.”

The USA Walker Cup team was unveiled earlier this week and, with all 10 players ranked inside the top-23 of the world, it looks a fairly formidable side. Throw in the weight of history – GB&I have only won twice on US soil and the last success away from home was 20 years ago – and the task is as mighty as the Covid-19 vaccination process. Wilson is remaining positive and purposeful, though.

“It’s not like we are just throwing 10 guys together who we don’t know,” said Wilson, who will announce a side at the end of this month which hopefully includes Nairn youngster Sandy Scott “I had a lot to do with them at a boys’ level. There are plenty of familiar faces and a bit of continuity. The players at our disposal have still been working hard even if there hasn’t been as much to play in. That has possibly given them even more hunger.

“All of a sudden they are going to be playing in the biggest team event in amateur golf. The history books tell us it is very difficult to win over there. But it’s not impossible. The players will have no problem getting up for the challenge.”

During a glory-laden amateur career, which also included appearances in The Open and The Masters, Wilson’s Walker Cup memories still stir the senses.

“I was probably more nervous at that than any other event,” said Wilson, who played on the winning GB&I side at Ganton in 2003. “When you play The Open or The Masters as an amateur you’re there for the experience really. Obviously, you want to do well but your focus is not on winning something like that. At the Walker Cup, though, you have that pressure, anticipation and expectation.”

While some have made the argument for delaying the Walker Cup due the pandemic restrictions – it is being held four months earlier than normal to avoid the Florida hurricane season – Wilson knows the show must go on. “It’s not as easy as saying ‘let’s postpone it’ as there are so many logistics involved,” he said. “We just have to carry on, pick a team and try to get the job done.”

Having already missed out on a St Andrews Trophy match as GB&I skipper, Wilson is hoping he’ll get another crack at the captaincy to take in the 2023 Walker Cup when it heads to St Andrews, 100 years after it was first played there. “I’ve already thrown my hat into the ring,” said Wilson, who won the Amateur Championship at the Old Course in 2004. “The message to myself for May’s match is ‘don’t mess it up’ and hopefully I’ll still be at the helm for St Andrews.”