Way back in 1923, when the Old Course played host to the Walker Cup for the first time, there was a feeling that the quirks, curiosities, nuances and peculiarities of the ancient links would befuddle the visitors from the good ole US of A.

“It was regarded as impossible that the Americans could become familiar with the intricacies of the Old Course in the short time at their disposal,” observed John Caven, who was a member of the GB&I side for the inaugural Walker Cup a year earlier, in a piece penned for Golf Monthly back in ye day.

The result? Well, the USA won 6-5. For GB&I skipper Robert Harris, meanwhile, the 1923 reversal in the cradle of the game was an act of sacrilege on a par with daubing ‘Davy and Bessie woz ‘ere’ on the wall of the R&A clubhouse.

“It will never happen again,” Harris wrote in his autobiography. “America beating Britain (and Ireland) at golf at St Andrews is but a passing fantasy.”

The reality, of course, was slightly different. The US won at the Old Course again in 1926. And in 1934, 1947 and 1955. The home of golf comforts did lead to a GB&I success in 1938, their first in the transatlantic clash, but they had to wait until 1971 to win it again when the contest returned to St Andrews. The jubilant hosts were the triumphant talk of the Auld Grey Toun before normal US service was resumed.

The might of the Americans in this cherished old affair makes the record books as lopsided as Long John Silver after a heavy night on the rum and winkles. In the 48 matches played since its inception in 1922, GB&I have won just nine times and six of them were shoehorned into a profitable 20-year period between 1995 and 2015.

Here in 2023, the US, aiming for a fourth win on the trot, have arrived in St Andrews with eight of the world’s top-10 in their side. But, as they’ve been saying since Old Tom Morris teed-up his featherie, golf is played on grass not on a system which works out players’ average performances in counting events over a rolling period. Or something like that.

“I mean, I wouldn't say it intimidates us,” said Nairn’s Calum Scott, one of two Scots in Stuart Wilson’s team. “I don't think the rankings really matter for this, especially being at St Andrews. It's anyone's game, and I think the winning team is the team that holes the most putts. That's it.”

In the cut-and-thrust of team golf, players and captains lamenting those putts that got away is as much a part of the Walker Cup as foursomes and singles.

“I think our games are definitely good enough to compete with the Americans,” insisted the Irishman Alex Maguire, who was a winner in this parish earlier in the season at the St Andrews Links Trophy. “It will all come down to the greens here. Stuart put a text in there last week saying ‘practice putting’ because it's the one thing it'll come down to.”

After a fairly rotten summer, which has taken much of the zip and bounce out of the Old Course, the sun has finally got his hat on in September and a pleasant forecast is expected for the weekend’s parrying and jousting. A fair fight then?

“I'm all for good weather,” said Wilson, a Walker Cup winner as a player of great aplomb at Ganton in 2003. “I think the team would appreciate that as well.

“I think it's nice that the guys will get to go head-to-head without having to battle the elements. It loses something when it's howling wind and rain and things. At least these guys will be able to kind of show what they can do in good conditions.

"Maybe a club-and-a-half wind would have been nice and a wee bit of bounce on the Old Course, but we'll take it the way it is. I think it's fair to say we're probably always going to be the underdogs. History tells us that's probably appropriate.”

This is another chance, though, for the latest GB&I generation to write their own little bit of Walker Cup history. Scott and the Blairgowrie 16-year-old Connor Gaham will begin that quest this morning as they form an all-Scottish alliance in the opening session of foursomes against the US pairing of Caleb Surratt and Ben James.

Let battle commence.