UNLESS you’re the indomitable Bernhard Langer, who will probably still be winning tournaments when he’s 106, every golfer has to confront the diminishing of their competitive powers at some point.

At 49, Greig Hutcheon is not ready to croak out a melancholic rendition of ‘My Way’ just yet but this hardy, Aberdonian perennial is well aware that the end is near.

“It just popped into my head the other day,” he reflected. “50 is just around the corner and I might, realistically, only have five or six years of tournament golf left. You can see the chequered flag, the end is coming. It’s quite sad. I’ve played competitive golf all my life. Whether it’s on the main tour or at the Dalmuir Pro-Am, it’s all competitive stuff and it always gets the juices flowing.”

He may be clambering the brae towards his half century but, in this game for all the ages, Hutcheon is certainly not winding down. Far from it. His victory in the PGA Play-offs in Ireland last weekend came with all manner of lucrative goodies and gave the Scot the kind of shot in the arm you used to get with a blue envelope from the NHS.

Starting with this week’s Betfred British Masters at The Belfry, Hutcheon will get to tee-up in seven DP World Tour events worth around £10.5m over the next couple of months.

“It’s like a step back in time and it’s lovely to see some old faces again,” said Hutcheon, who floated between the Challenge Tour and the main European circuit in the late 1990s and into the noughties. “It’s a wee bit of a shock to the system, mind you. I’ve been thinking about the possibility of the Senior Tour and that’s what I’ve been working towards. Now, though, I’ve got a big platform to play on and I’m going to have to really sharpen my game up to survive among these young kids for half a dozen events.”

They’re not all young pups, of course. At last year’s British Masters over this storied Ryder Cup venue, Richard Bland won an emotional maiden tour title at the age of 48. “Blandy and I have been friends for over 25 years,” said Hutcheon with another delve into his golfing archives. “I remember in 2001, he shot a 27 on the last nine holes for a 63 in the Challenge Tour Grand Final which knocked me out of the promotion places to the European Tour.

“I was looking all set to get my card and then bang, Blandy comes out of the mist. It was a hard one to take. And I’m still waiting on the pint he promised me as a consolation. But he showed his quality then and he’s still showing it now.”

Hutcheon, a three-time Challenge Tour champion and a prolific winner on the domestic Tartan Tour, remains as hardy as a clump of Rubislaw granite and the prospect of a new chapter on the over-50s circuit keeps driving him on. Qualifying for the golden oldies circuits in Europe or the US, though, is a hellishly difficult task akin to scaling Everest in a pair of baffies.

“There are just five spots available for each tour at the qualifying schools, so only 10 spots worldwide,” he said. “It’s a pretty daunting prospect. Someone described it to me as ‘a fairly poor retirement plan’.”

For the time being, however, a galvanised Hutcheon is relishing the opportunities that have been afforded him on the DP World Tour.

“If you want to survive out here you have to make cuts,” said the former Scottish PGA champion. “That’s no different to when I was on tour years ago. That’s the challenge again now and it’s a real treat for me at this age.

“It’s nice to be able to use all the tour facilities again too. I’ve been at the physio to get my ankle worked on, I got my clubs checked over with all the fancy technology they have. And you get great food in the players’ lounge.

“I’ll embrace the challenge and hopefully this run of events helps me sharpen up my game to get one of those cards for the seniors. This will probably be my swansong on the main tour so I’ll enjoy it. And hopefully I can enjoy competitive golf for a bit longer too. I’ll keep going. Nobody likes a quitter.”