I was in a restaurant the other week – yes, we are occasionally allowed out of the cellar – and my grub came clanking towards the table on some trundling, Dalek-like contraption while the actual human waiter shuffled glumly behind said appliance wearing a face that resembled a bulldog that had just been condemned to a lifetime of celibacy by the vet.

We’re all doomed aren’t we? If it’s not a ruddy robot delivering our nosh, then it’s some Artificial Intelligence thingamabob elbowing us into irrelevance by taking over our jobs. 

Then again? I was reading something about a writer who experimented with one of those Generative Artificial Intelligence gizmos and got it to produce a piece of literary work. The result? “It came up with something that, at a first glance, reads plausibly but, on a second glance, is s***,” said the unimpressed author. Herald readers probably mutter a similar observation when they try to untangle the opening haverings of the Tuesday column.

So what, pray tell, is this waffling pre-amble teeing up this week? Well, it’s the Walker Cup on Saturday and Sunday and what a delight it should be as the leading amateurs from GB&I and the USA cross swords over the Old Course in St Andrews for a show that will offer something of a soothing contrast to the money-grabbing circus of the professional game in its highest echelon.

The brevity of the Walker Cup remains one of its strengths. Some have called for an extra day and the addition of a fourballs element but the two-day composition of foursomes and singles can make for a captivating, short-and-sweet affair. Less is more, as they say.

This will be the first time the biennial tussle has been staged in the Auld Grey Toun since 1975. Things have changed a bit in golf since then, but the Walker Cup remains a cherished pillar of the amateur ideal.

Back in ye day, of course, the unpaid game was a different beast and the level of coverage it attracted would make Viktor Hovland’s $18 million victory in the Tour Championship on Sunday night look like the club returns in the sports digest.

In 1971, for instance, when the Old Course also hosted the Walker Cup, the GB&I boys won for the first time since 1938 and sparked a riot of jubilation that just about led to the R&A commissioning a collection of commemorative dish cloots.

In the pages of The Herald, the thrilling 13-11 win was the main splash on the front of the paper. If you’re curious, the other news stories playing second fiddle to the Walker Cup conquest included a treble victory for Labour in the Bromsgrove, Goole and Itchen by-elections, radioactive false teeth being found at the Dundee Dental Hospital and a headline reporting that, ‘Man sits up in bed after 170 ft fall’. 

Presumably, he’d just heard the spectacular news from St Andrews and was utterly galvanised. “Nurse, bring me my Herald and a large whisky…oh, and my chamber pot.”

The joy that the 1971 win unleashed was unbridled. As The Herald write up declared, “for many of the spectators who forgot their dignity and inbred reserve to cheer lustily when the last putt dropped at 7.10pm, it was a dreamed fulfilled.” Giddy scenes indeed.

Here in 2023, the amateur aficionados will savour this weekend’s offering. The wider appeal, however, is a different matter in an age when the professional game seems all-consuming. A GB&I win on Sunday may not dominate the front and back pages like it did in days of yesteryear but it would be worthy of grand acclaim.

The mighty USA have won the last three transatlantic jousts, and seven of the last nine since they ended GB&I’s push for an unprecedented fourth win in a row in 2005. 

As usual, Team USA has a fairly formidable looking line-up. Despite losing the world No 2, Michael Thorbjornsen, to a back injury, the visitors still have eight of the world’s top-10 in their side. GB&I’s highest-placed player is John Gough at No 13. 

Rankings, however, can go flying out of the window in the fluctuating, unpredictable cut-and-thrust of team golf, especially on a links course.

Stuart Wilson, one of Scotland’s finest amateurs in his playing pomp, captains GB&I for a second time. Who takes over the reins after him remains to be seen. It’s hardly an exhaustive list in these changing times. 

With the true career amateur almost as old-fashioned as the thatched roof, conversations about former Walker Cup players, who subsequently turned professional, becoming skipper have been doing the rounds for a while now. 

That would open up a vast list of potential candidates and shimmering names. Monty for captain anybody? Why not? Catriona Matthew, after all, will be the GB&I Curtis Cup captain next year in a groundbreaking move.

The indefatigable Gary Wolstenholme, GB&I’s all-time leading points scorer in the Walker Cup, was once obvious captain material until he turned pro at 48 to pursue a career in the senior ranks back in 2008. He remained keen on the idea of a professional captain, though. “The interest in the Walker Cup would be through the roof,” Wolstenholme suggested.

Whatever the future holds on that front, the present will continue to serve up plenty of amateur dramatics. Hold the front page?