For those of us existing in the more hapless hinterlands of modest golfing endeavour, our idea of bursting out of the traps at the start of a round is opening with a seven, a five and an eight. And then we run out of steam.

Graham Rankin, meanwhile, truly was a top dog during his pomp as one of Britain’s best amateurs. So, what’s the purpose of the canine-themed cliches that are peppering these introductory bletherings?

Well, Rankin continues to make his mark as a leading greyhound racing trainer. From being one of Scottish golf’s most indomitable competitors during a glory-laden career in the unpaid game, Rankin’s other lifelong passion continues to reap considerable rewards.

In the last month or so, his formidable four-legged friend, Jaguar Macie, has won both the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby at Monmore and the prestigious Northern Puppy Derby in Newcastle. “They were worth about £20,000,” said Rankin of this tidy haul.

Macie herself, named after one of Rankin’s grandaughters, is worth a considerable amount more. “I’ve turned down £50,000 for her,” added the 55-year-old.

Amid a host of golfing honours, Rankin won the Scottish Amateur Championship, the Scottish Open Amateur Strokeplay title and the Lytham Trophy while playing on three GB&I Walker Cup teams between 1995 and 1999 and savouring victory twice.

His competitive drooth was unquenchable. Here in 2021, “the dugs” are helping to slake that thirst. “It’s the pride of winning,” he said. “When I was playing golf, I didn’t want to finish second, third or fourth. I wanted to win. You only get the buzz out of winning. It’s the same with the greyhounds.”

It’s not winning at all costs, however. “Yes, winning is great but as long as Macie comes back safely, that’s the main thing,” said Rankin, who has some 20 dogs in his kennels. “You put her in the box and then hope she’ll be ok. There are people who don’t agree with animal racing. But these dugs love to run. It’s their natural instinct.”

Alongside part-owner, Tony Armstrong, Rankin has formed the kind of profitable pairing that would be terrific in foursomes. Then again? “Tony is a bag of nerves and sometimes he can’t watch the races,” Rankin chortled. “Golf has probably helped me on that front. I’ve been under pressure doing things in golf down the years. But at least in golf, you have your destiny in your hands. Once you put your dog in the box, you don’t know what will happen.”

Back in 1999, Rankin took his own step into the unknown. He turned professional at the age of 33 having reached the pinnacle of the amateur game. “Every time I pegged it up at amateur events, I had a chance to win,” said the Drumpellier stalwart. “That was a great feeling. But I was up my 30s when I turned pro. Not many would do that now.”

He embraced the new challenge and, after a thrilling late surge on the closing two days of the European Tour’s qualifying school final at the end of 2000, he earned a place at the top table. Plagued by an elbow injury, though, his one season among the elite in 2001 was fleeting and unfulfilling.

“I should have got my elbow checked long before I got on tour,” he reflected of that stint 20 years ago. “It got to the point where the pain was unbelievable. I should have looked into getting a medical exemption. But I didn’t and that was a mistake. There was a big sense of deflation. For a spell, I hated golf after that.”

The dogs would become his consuming preoccupation. He has rekindled his love for golf, too. “I got my amateur status back a couple of years ago and I still enjoy a wee hit about,” he reported. Rankin even went for a tune up with Davy Burns, the Linlithgow-based coach who has helped Robert MacIntyre surge into the world’s top-50.

“What that young lad has done has been tremendous,” he said of MacIntyre’s rise. “He plays without fear and that’s a great way to be in golf.”

A bricklayer by trade, Rankin still works away on the sites but an incident the other week has given him plenty of food for thought. “I collapsed at work and was taken away in an ambulance,” he said. “I’m going for a scan on my heart next week. Maybe I just need to take it a bit easier.”

His greyhounds, meanwhile, continue to be in fine fettle. “There’s a big race coming up at Towcester and Macie is the joint favourite,” he said.

Rankin’s sporting life has gone to the dogs. But in a good way.