Dispatch specialist rates Braids alongside Dornoch

Challenging: The rolling fairways and undulating greens of the Braids. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor.

Challenging: The rolling fairways and undulating greens of the Braids. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor.

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Carrickvale will resume their bid to claim a fifth Dispatch Trophy triumph in eight years tonight at a “mini Royal Dornoch”.

That’s how former Scotland cap Allyn Dick, a member of the Carrickvale quartet, describes the Braids, the event’s permanent home.

For its 115th staging, the fairways are more defined than ever before and, as always, Dick is loving the challenge on the picturesque course.

“I played in the Lytham Trophy recently and reckon there’s no difference in terms of difficulty to the challenge off the tee from there to here,” he said.

“Sure, the Braids is a lot shorter than Royal Lytham, which means you can take irons off some tees, but at both courses it’s about how you manage your ball around the course.”

While not nearly as much as he once did, Dick still plays in SGU Order of Merit events.

But, since being introduced to the Edinburgh Leisure- supported Dispatch Trophy, it’s become one of his favourite tournaments. “It’s great and if ever there was a match-play course for amateurs, then the Braids is it,” declared the former Lothians champion.

“It’s like a mini-Royal Dornoch and it’s great to be back up here again and in the quarter-finals.”

Carrickvale’s opponents at that stage tonight are the team they succeeded as winners – Caermount.

No longer with David Ewan at his side, Dick is being partnered for the second year running by Craig Deerness.

They’re likely to be up against Ian Dickson and Rob Ainsworth at the front, with Craig Elliot and Paul Cunningham taking on Martin Hopley and Gary Henshaw at the back.

“The golf Craig and I are playing is getting better as our partnership grows,” reported Dick ahead of an intriguing clash.

So, too, is the other tie in the top half of the draw – Silverknowes v BBT, a Turnhouse team. Former Lothians champion Steven Armstrong, a BBT man, is hoping the greens will be slicker than earlier the week.

“They were a bit slow and bumpy and I really struggled on them,” he said. “We are all looking forward to Thursday night, but I hope it is good golf that decides it rather than greens.”

Silverknowes, of course, are bidding to reclaim the prize they lost 12 months ago after back-to-back victories before that.

Their last-16 win over Edinburgh Western was comfortable enough – but not without incident.

In the top match, Gerry Curran was about to hit Western’s second shot in the 16th when the club slipped and barely moved the ball. His partner, Andrew Rennie, then hit their third to 12 feet and Curran made amends by holing the putt for an unlikely half.

Behind, the Silverknowes back couple lost the 13th when Craig Scott’s tee shot hit his playing partner Keith Reilly’s trolley up near the green.

“I remember the same thing happening about 20 years ago up here,” smiled Reilly, who was relieved that it hadn’t proved costly on this occasion.

On paper, you would have to think this year’s winner is likely to come from that top half.

But, at the same time, there’s nothing ever certain in the Dispatch Trophy so Stewart’s/Melville, RICS, Heriots Quad and Lochend can all still fancy their chances, too.

The Stew/Mel line-up is an intriguing one. Older and wiser, Dave Donaldson and Derek Millar go about their business quietly.

In contrast, Stuart McLaren is like a cat on a hot tin roof at the back with fellow young gun Douglas Maxwell.

Craigielaw member Maxwell is the odd one out in that quartet as Donaldson, Millar and McLaren all play at Bruntsfield Links.

There’s a contrast in the RICS team, too.

Mike Armstrong, who has Justin Lamb as his partner at the back, is the quiet type while Brian Tait, playing with Paddy Ledingham, isn’t slow in coming forward – certainly when it comes to the Dispatch Trophy!

Whether Heriots Quad or Lochend can go on to lift the trophy remains to be seen but one of them will definitely pick up a medal as they meet in the last of tonight’s ties.

Twenty years after their sole triumph in the event, Lochend won’t be lacking any incentive in that one.

Tonight’s ties

4.30pm: Carrickvale v Caermount

4.50pm: Silverknowes v BBT

5.10pm: Stewart’s/Melville v RICS

5.30pm: Heriots Quad v Lochend