Golf has a habit of teasing and tormenting the eyes. Those of us with a more weary, pessimistic approach to this game, for instance, tend to glimpse breaks in putts that don’t exist, we focus on potential hazards that really shouldn’t be an issue and, instead of visualising crisp, clean, confident strikes, we simply see chaos, carnage and calamity at every turn.

Perhaps it’s time to get those anguished eyes tested? Which is exactly where Susan Wood comes in. As a fully qualified optometrist, as well as a hardy perennial of the women’s domestic golf scene, Wood is just as happy discussing retinal pigment epithelium as she is talking about 36-holes of strokeplay qualifying at this week’s Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship.

“Like a lot of health care professionals after lockdown, my work has been crazy,” gasped the 42-year-old Drumpellier stalwart. “I’ve just finished 10 days in a row but I felt a responsibility to help the profession catch up.”

Having cleared the decks at the opticians, Wood now has all eyes on golfing matters at Gullane. In a field headlined by talented teenager Hannah Darling, who demonstrated her considerable potential with a fine victory in the St Rule Trophy last weekend, Wood is one of the more, shall we say, experienced campaigners at a celebrated old championship that continues to stir her senses. 

“I do think I was the first player to enter this week’s event,” she said of her boundless enthusiasm. “I was 17 when I first played in the Scottish Championship and I I’ve probably played in 20 down the years. I’ve never missed the qualifying cut. For an old working lassie that’s not too bad.”

In an ever changing golfing landscape, the career amateur is something that’s almost as quaintly old-fashioned as a thatched roof.

“There’s not much for players like me to play in nationally due to the handicap limits and the need for world amateur ranking points,” added the plus-one handicapper of the robust entry requirements these days. “But County golf for me is a good standard and it’s still a lot of good fun. An event like the Scottish Championship is a wee bonus.”

Golf in general during the stifling restrictions of the past year has been something of a bonus too for Wood. “I didn’t work for six months in that first lockdown and it was stressful getting back with all the PPE and working closely with patients again,” reflected Wood. “I was definitely anxious about starting back but golf was a real life saver. There was nothing better than taking to the course after work.”

Wood’s competitive longevity continues to bring rewards. She won her third Lanarkshire County Championship title back in April while she’s been the Drumpellier club champion a whopping 18 times.

As a former captain of the Scotland girls’ team, and now in a similar role with the national women’s side, Wood is always keen to see the emerging talent coming through and pass on her pearls of golfing wisdom to a new generation.

“When I played is my first Scottish Championship as a 10-handicapper, I played alongside Marjorie Ferguson who was a real stalwart of Scottish women’s golf,” reflected Wood, who is now based in the cradle of the game in St Andrews. “She was so encouraging and I’ve always remembered that. I try to do the same towards the younger players I play alongside.”

While some of her contemporaries, like her Drumpellier club-mate Clare Queen, enjoyed stints in the professional game on the Ladies European Tour, Wood has always cherished the fact that golf has remained her passion not her profession.

“I feel lucky to have golf in my life but I deliberately chose not to have it as my career,” said Wood, whose dad, Robin, played in the same Queen’s Park football team as a certain Alex Ferguson back in the day. “My dad always wanted me to go to university to get qualifications behind me. It was hard when my pals were off playing in golf events and I was studying. But I’ve always loved playing amateur golf.”

Whatever happens on the lovely links at Gullane this week, Wood will enjoy it. “My only ever hole-in-one came at Gullane a few years ago and there was plenty of champagne consumed after that,” she said. “Who knows what my golf will be like this week but I’m looking forward to my wee holiday.”