THE early birds will certainly catch the worm in the first two rounds of this year’s Dispatch Trophy at the Braids.
Play on the first day – Saturday, May 25 – will start at 7am and the following day at 8am.
The changes, which will be implemented on a trial basis this year, have been agreed by the Dispatch Trophy committee following discussions with Edinburgh Leisure.
Dispatch Trophy secretary Robin Mutch said: “Edinburgh Leisure asked if we would consider earlier starts to play on the first Saturday and on the Sunday.
“We were told that if this happened it would loosen up more of the day for the paying public and would give the course a chance of more paid-for green fees, the loss of which was one of their main concerns.
“The early start will be on a trial basis this year but we feel this move will work to the benefit of both sides.”
David Atkinson, Edinburgh Leisure’s golf and grounds maintenance manager, added: “We are committed to ensuring the continuing success of the Dispatch Trophy. We are delighted to work in partnership with the Dispatch Committee and the Evening News to ensure the future success of what is the most prestigious golf event in Central Scotland.
“By adopting a flexible approach to tee times we have increased capacity for all golfers throughout the weekend.”
One of the upshots of the new arrangement is that the entry fee has been retained at £60.
In another change, though, teams will have a bit more flexibility in terms of substitutes.
Players who drop out due to unavailability – a common occurrence on the Tuesday especially – can now be reinstated.
“The committee must be notified of all changes and reinstatements can only be made to the original order of play,” said Mutch.
In a bid to boost the number of entries for the Evening News-sponsored event, junior clubs will be permitted to play for the first time.
Players must be 16 years or over and it is hoped the likes of Merchiston Academy and Loretto Academy will consider entering teams.
Entries for the event, won last year by Caermount, close on Wednesday, April 10. The draw will take place a fortnight later.