Golf can often be a test of endurance. There are times, for instance, when the arduous trudge from tee to green, with all the remorseless thrashing, swiping and gouging that it involves, would have had Ernest Shackleton gasping ‘sod this boys, we’ll just turn back’ as he peered at a grisly, plugged lie in the bunker.

Jack Nicklaus used to say that ‘golfers are masochists’ so we can perhaps assume that the Golden Bear would raise an eyebrow of intrigue at the exploits of the bold Susie Robertson.

After 15 years, goodness knows how many miles and Lord alone knows how many shots, the intrepid Robertson has finally ticked off all 556 courses listed in the official Golf in Scotland guide book. It is believed she is the first woman to complete such an exhausting undertaking.

From Whalsay in the Shetland Islands down to St Medans in the deep south west, and everywhere else in between, Robertson’s feat has been an exercise in teeth-grinding stoicism.

The 65-year-old certainly gave herself a mountain to climb, which is a fitting idiom given where the seeds of her daunting adventure were sown.

“Back in 2005, my husband, Brian, decided to do all the Munros and I said I’d do them with him,” reflected Robertson. “I’d managed about 14 or 15 but on one particular occasion we were at the top, there was pea soup fog and I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t see my feet. I put my hands on Brian’s shoulders and we used his GPS to navigate our way down. I felt like I was stepping off into an abyss. I suggested I’ll do all the golf courses instead of doing the Munros. It was more of a joke and I didn’t think I would do it. But 15 years later, I’ve managed it.”

With a sizeable task ahead of her, you wouldn’t have blamed Robertson if she’d kept her backpack on, stocked up on slabs of Kendal mint cake and shoved an Ordnance Survey Map into her golf bag. “There were obviously some far flung places,” she said of a rich and varied expedition which included everything from the revered championship links courses to the more quirky curiosities hidden away in the nooks and crannies of this fertile golfing land. 

“Tiree was a difficult one for me as I’m not very good on a boat. And Barra was a cliff face covered in cattle. There were some very different experiences and conditions. The day I played Ballachulish was horrendous weather. I went into the clubhouse and a chap behind the bar asked if he could help me. I said ‘I’d like to play the course’ and he looked out of the window and simply said ‘really?’.”

Golfers have always been a hardy bunch, of course. Undaunted, Robertson would plough on through meteorological hell and high water during an odyssey that could have prompted a re-write of Homer’s epic poem.

“There was this huge target ahead of me and, let’s face it, I wasn’t getting any younger,” added the Elie & Earlsferry Ladies’ Club member. “But I finally got to 300 and that was at Peterhead. I was over halfway at that point and I saw this little glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.”

Robertson still had a heck of an inward half to negotiate but, by the time 2020 rolled in, she had just nine courses left to play. And then coronavirus came barging onto the scene to throw a major spanner in the works.

“It had been all mapped out, at times I was playing seven days a week and I’d scheduled my last round to be at Kingarrock which is the only hickory club in the UK,” added Robertson of a finale in her native Fife. “We’d arranged for all my friends to be there but then all the courses got closed due to coronavirus and there was all this uncertainty. I actually thought to myself ‘I don’t think I’ll bother carrying on with this’ even though I was so close. My friends had to give me a really good dig to get me going again.”

It was Gleddoch in Renfrewshire that became Robertson’s final course on the list. So, was it a towering iron into the green and a raking birdie putt for a rousing, closing salvo? Not quite. “I didn’t play very well and there was no final flourish put it that way,” she said with a wry chuckle. 

“It was a relief to just get it finished. I think I have over-played myself. My golf is nowhere near as good as it was. I’m not as competitive as I used to be. And I’m certainly done with challenges in my life.”