You never know what you’re going to get in this game when you stand there and size up the first shot of the day.

This correspondent, for instance, tends to mull over a couple of possibilities as we creak through the forlorn motions of the practice swing. Will this round be a total farce or just a mere debacle?

Stuart Wilson, meanwhile, has never plumbed those type of inept depths – well, not that we know of - but he’s well aware of this pursuit’s fickle fortunes. “You turn up on the first tee and your game is either going to be there or it’s not,” he said.

Wilson will be hoping it’s still there in some shape or form at Ballyliffin this week when he makes a return to the Amateur Championship to mark the 20th anniversary of his grand triumph in the unpaid game’s blue riband event at the Old Course back in 2004.

Time hurtles by, doesn’t it? Two decades ago, Wilson was at the peak of his competitive powers. For a good chunk of the 20 years since that success, he’s been busy as a managing secretary at Forfar and now Blairgowrie, a Scotland boys’ captain, a R&A selector, a European Junior Ryder Cup skipper and a GB&I Walker Cup captain.

There’s hardly been any time to draw breath let alone play golf.

“You get a 20-year exemption for winning the Amateur but my last appearance in it was probably in 2007,” said Wilson. “Every year, the R&A has been kind enough to send me an email saying, ‘you’re still exempt’ and every year I’ve had to politely decline because of other duties. I don’t have some of those commitments as a selector now, so I thought I’d better accept this last chance.

“It’ll be nice to give it a try. I’m under no illusions about the standard I’ll be up against. I’ve hardly played any competitive golf at a club level let alone this level. I’ve probably convinced myself already that it’ll be too tough, but we’ll see.”

A Walker Cup winner with GB&I in 2003, the same year as he won the Lytham Trophy, Wilson gilded the lily the following year and savoured a silver lining in the Auld Grey Toun with his Amateur Championship conquest.

“It was the absolute pinnacle for me,” reflected Wilson, who beat the rising Italian star, Francesco Molinari, in the last-eight on his march to glory. “Being at St Andrews, during the 250th anniversary of the R&A, you couldn’t have picked a better year to win it. It served me well beyond my playing days too.

"Having that Amateur Championship accolade opens up a lot of doors. One of the best things I ever done was stay amateur and reap all the rewards that came with it.”

Wilson would go onto the win the silver medal as the leading amateur in the following month’s Open at Royal Troon. Once he’d got past the car park attendant, that is.

“I went to register on the first day and was declined access to the players’ car park,” chuckled Wilson, who had revved up to the gates in that classic marque of head-turning style and elegance, the Fiesta 1.1

“The attendant wouldn’t believe I was a player. That car had been all over the UK on the amateur circuit. It was known as the burgundy bullet.”

It was the green of Augusta that was next on Wilson’s list as his final treat for winning the Amateur Championship took him to the 2005 Masters.

“The Masters was really the end of me competitively,” he admitted. “I’d been kicking the backside out of my game. I’d probably plateaued round about 2003 and 2004 to be honest. Even when I won the Amateur I was working full-time and married. Life was going in a different direction from playing full-time golf.

“I’d been playing the amateur circuit for six or seven years. It does get repetitive and tiring. If you’re not getting the same results as you did in the previous years, it does get frustrating too.

"I’d used up all my holidays and my funding to play the in the Masters and when the amateur season started there was nothing left to play in. You know your playing days are over when they ask you to be a captain.”

Whatever happens at Ballyliffin, Wilson will enjoy his Amateur Championship swansong. “I’ll just have to win it again and get another 20-year exemption,” he laughed.