Coin toss settles historic Dispatch tie

WET, WET, WET: Robert Binnie of Lochend 'prepares to putt. Pic: Ian Georgeson

WET, WET, WET: Robert Binnie of Lochend 'prepares to putt. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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HISTORY was almost certainly made in the Dispatch Trophy – as a match in its 115th staging was decided by the toss of a coin.

The unusual conclusion was agreed between Scottish Universities Golfing Society and Bruntsfield Allied after flooding forced a suspension at the Braids.

The second-round match in the Edinburgh Leisure-supported event was all square at the time, though not exactly in conventional fashion – even for this event.

The top SUGS pairing of David Greenshields and Duncan Hamilton stood eight up – but Simon Holt and Tim Pakeham trailed by the same margin at the back.

As conditions quickly became unplayable, the players on both teams agreed to flip a coin rather than wait for the weather to improve.

“Tails” won it for SUGS, with Greenshields reporting: “The coin was ceremoniously flown ten yards so as to avoid any disputes.”

He reckoned it was a sensible decision in the circumstances and added: “I don’t think the Bruntsfield Allied lads were too bothered as they’ve got an outing to Muirfield on Tuesday!”

That’s when SUGS will take on RICS in the last 16, and Dispatch secretary Robin Mutch hopes all matches can be decided in conventional fashion.

“I remember a match not being able to continue and a team conceding, but never one coming down to the toss of a coin,” he said.

It was a testing day for him and the rest of the committee due to the weather but, remarkably, they managed to keep things on schedule.

Mist caused problems initially and it was felt by some competitors that conditions were actually dangerous due to the fact they could hardly see 100 yards in front of them.

“I think we were playing against Gullane Comrades but I struggled to see them,” said Third’s David Marshall, in a jocular manner.

This isn’t an event that has the luxury of spilling over, so fair play to those officials for trying to keep things going before other elements intervened.

There were two separate suspensions in the afternoon, the first due to the flooding then, later on, thunder and lightning. By then, the course had become so saturated that a quick rules change was made so that the first, 17th and 18th would be used for extra holes.

When one of the later matches did need a “tie-breaker”, it had to go off the boxes due to the medal tee being flooded.

All in all, it was quite an opening weekend in the Edinburgh Evening News-sponsored event.

Defending champions Carrickvale, for instance, overcame losing one of their star players, Craig Elliot, with a back injury to come through a tricky second-round test against Edinburgh Thistle.

George Alexander, the team manager and chief cheerleader, stepped in at the last minute and gave a good account of himself in the company of Paul Cunningham.

“It’s probably 15 years since I last played in this, but it was good,” beamed Alexander after helping set up a third-round clash with newcomers Gullane Comrades.

Silverknowes, last year’s beaten finalists, are also still standing in the top half, as are Caermount, the 2012 winners, after Martin Hopley holed a 12-footer at the last to force extra holes against Watsonian.

Another of the school sides, Stewart’s/Melville, won at the fifth extra hole against Heriots in the first round before enjoying an easier passage against Harrison.

Proof, meanwhile, that the double foursome format can be unpredictable came in RICS’s win over Carrick Knowe - the split in that being three down and ten up!