Despite what you see in that byline picture up there – a strained, mildly pained face that looks like someone who’s just stubbed their toe on the gravestone of a distant relative – I’m a fairly cheery old fellow.

This generally jolly demeanour, however, doesn’t mean I’m prone to great bouts of optimism. In fact, my natural pessimism kicked in just there, halfway through typing the word ‘optimism’.

As you can imagine, then, my mood in the St Andrews media centre at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship the other day was hardly cock-a-hoop.

Gazing forlornly at the incoming wall of rain on a weekend weather forecast generated the same sense of foreboding you’d get if you peered through your letterbox and glimpsed a bailiff clumping up your garden path waving an eviction notice in the air. A redundant Saturday afternoon in the howffs of the Auld Grey Toun lifted the morale a tad.

That the championship managed to get three rounds in – you can read about the Monday denouement elsewhere in this shimmering supplement – was almost a miracle of our time.

The bold Noah may have had his work cut out shepherding and cajoling a variety of biblical beasts up the gangway of his floating zoo but that was probably nothing compared to the logistical hassle of getting all and sundry at the Dunhill Links through a 54-hole rotation of the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

It wasn’t quite 40 days and 40 nights of rain but, my goodness, it fairly came down in torrents, didn’t it? Footage from Carnoustie late on Sunday afternoon, as the Barry Burn burst its banks and the championship links was submerged, made the prospect of any play on Monday look utterly preposterous despite confident predictions from DP World Tour communications.

Such was the volume of water that was swilling around the parish, you half expected the Dunhill Links leaderboard to appear on the Shipping Forecast.

All hail the greenkeeping staff, though. Across the three venues that were used in the $5 million contest, it was, quite literally, all hands to the pump. By the time they got the courses fit for purpose after herculean toil - and there was still plenty of standing water when they teed-off at Carnoustie yesterday - even the squeegees would need to be squeegeed.

The work of these golf course custodians, whether employed at a world famous links in the home of golf or at a local municipal, is never done. But is it appreciated? Not all the time. And especially not by those pesky blighters who simply refuse to repair a pitch mark and then mutter and moan when the greens have been aerated. You know the types.

Anyway, greenkeeping has moved on a bit since Old Tom Morris snipped away with his hand scythe. At the top end of the industry these days, smart phones can control irrigation and sprayers, autonomous mowers can beetle about themselves while hidden sensors under greens keep an eye on moisture and nutrients and feed soil data back to a centralised hub.

Across the greenkeeping board, however, there are all manner of challenges. When Covid hit, and golf became the pastime of the pandemic, the general toll on courses, and greenkeeping staff, was considerable. While other sports were still out of bounds due to various restrictions, the stampede towards golf was akin to the wave of humanity you get at the newsagents on a Tuesday when folk want to buy The Herald to read this column. Or something like that.

A survey by the British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association (BIGGA) at the height of the popularity surge revealed that, across the UK, there were 15 million extra rounds, 180 billion additional footsteps, 270 million more divots and 150 million new pitch marks.

Last year, meanwhile, another BIGGA investigation suggested that more than a third of greenkeepers surveyed were actively looking for a job outside the industry. The stresses and strains of working in an undervalued and often overburdened job were clear to see.

Throw in the impacts of climate change and those stresses and strains are only going to deepen. The weekend’s weather was ridiculously rotten even for October. But such downpours are not the reserve of an absurd autumnal assault.

The height of this country’s golf season in, say June, July or August, can be ravaged by a sodden tantrum from Mother Nature. Parkland courses, in particular, can be under populated, under water or even shut at a time when they should be making hay. Summer monsoons are now becoming a regular occurrence. Give it a few more years, and the golf season will be shoehorned into a few dry weeks in late April and early May.

But perhaps that’s the least of our worries. In recent years, coastal erosion led to Royal North Devon Golf Club losing 20 metres of dunes in three days. Chunks of the links at Montrose have been falling into the North Sea while climate boffins reckon hallowed terrain like the Old Course and Royal Troon could be under water by the end of the century.

By the time you reach the end of this column, the sea will probably be lapping at the bottom of the page. Perhaps a greenkeeper will help stem the tide? At all levels, they tend to be golf’s unsung heroes.