FOR nearly a century it’s been par for the course that only men take part in one of golf’s most historic events.
But now for the first time since the 1920s, a woman golfer has been named in a four-strong team teeing off in the Evening News Dispatch Trophy – and there’s not a joke about birdies in sight.
Julie Douglas, who is part of the Evening News team alongside sports writer Bill Lothian, promotions manager Ben Wallace and managing director of Johnston Press Andrew Richardson, has been playing golf for more than 20 years.
The 51-year-old, who lives in Morningside and is a reporter for the Musselburgh News and East Lothian News, said she was delighted to be asked to get involved by Mr Richardson.
Her handicap of six makes her a strong member of the team and she will play off the men’s tees.
The first – and last – women to take part in the competition were defeated in the first round by Moray House after a “thrilling finish” in May 1927.
The quartet – Mrs JB Watson, Miss Mary Wood, Miss Edith Nimmo and Miss Doris Park – named their team Dormie, and were the first women’s team to contest the Evening Dispatch Trophy in what, at the time, was described as a “shock entry”.
Ms Douglas, a mother-of-one who has been a member of The Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club for the last 17 years, said: “I am pleased to be asked to play in such a historic competition and hopefully it will encourage other women to take part in future years.
“On the day, I will just be keeping my head down, as golfers should, and hoping to play well for the team.
“I’m told that the team doesn’t usually get past the first round, so there should be no pressure. It didn’t cross my mind to take part before because I’ve always heard of it being a men’s competition.”
Robin Mutch, honorary secretary of the Evening News Dispatch Trophy, said the constitution for the Dispatch Trophy was written more than 100 years ago and originally stated that only men over the age of 18 could take part.
However, that was changed around 20 years ago to open the competition up to women too. It is not clear why Dormie was allowed to take part in 1927, but a possible suggestion is to increase the number of competitors taking part that year – or that it was simply overlooked.
Mr Mutch said: “The attitude is that the spirit of the game should prevail over petty rules and regulations. ”
The tournament has been played at the Braid Hills Golf Course since it was established by the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch in 1890. Miss Mary Wood was the first woman to drive a ball in the competition.
Mr Mutch said Ms Douglas’ participation would generate interest in the 113th tournament, which gets under way on Saturday, with the Evening News team competing on Sunday against Network Cooling.
A total of 56 teams of four will take part, with the final taking place on June 2.
The inaugural Dispatch Trophy Tournament was played on the first Saturday of April 1890 and, barring war years, has been played every year since.
‘They gave little ground all the way’
THE Evening Dispatch on May 27, 1927 told of the Dormie team’s efforts:
“They struck their flag to a team of Moray House students. They fought a great battle, gave little ground all the way, played well-nigh brilliantly to keep their male opponents in check, and took the count after a thrilling finish.
“Dormie proved to be the big attraction of the afternoon. A goodly number of them [the crowd] were women, and there was no mistaking their sympathies.”