Alexander jets in from Thailand to play in Dispatch Trophy
Seven days after he was teeing up in Thailand in a professional event, Ben Alexander heads back to the Braids tonight dreaming of Dispatch Trophy glory.
The 25-year-old is part of the Barnton Hotel quartet facing Carrickvale B as the Capital’s historic team tournament reaches the last-16 stage.
Alexander, who plays off scratch, is making his debut in the event along with team-mate Ross Noon as partners for the Hunter brothers, Brian and Steve.
In contrast to their younger team-mates, the Hunters are Dispatch Trophy veterans, Steve having been in the first Silverknowes side to lift it in 1984 before joining forces with Brian, Mark Kerr and Elliot Saltman in a triumphant Barnton Hotel side in 2001.
While they did well to make it to the final in 2011, the Hunter brothers haven’t yet managed to come up with another winning combination in the event but this one looks pretty useful.
Noon was once one of the brightest young prospects in the Lothians and still plays off plus one, while Alexander has been playing his golf recently at a much higher level than this particular event.
He’s been competing as an amateur on the MENA Tour, which is one of golf’s third-tier circuits with events starting to expand into Thailand and South Africa from the Middle East and North Africa.
Indeed, Alexander was playing in the MahaSamutr Masters in Hua Hin a week ago before making a mad dash home for the start of the 117th Dispatch Trophy on Saturday.
“I only got back into Edinburgh at 10pm on Friday night, but I simply could not miss out on the opportunity to play with the Hunter sisters,” he quipped.
“From us all playing at The Renaissance Club, I know they are both great characters and also have the right mentality on the golf course, so it is terrific to be in the same team as them for my debut in this event.”
After being in the Scotland Under-14 squad, Alexander gave up golf altogether for five years before getting back into it again three years ago.
“I’m now playing as a full-time amateur and have probably played in a dozen events on the MENA Tour, where I’m currently lying second on the amateur order of merit,” he said.
“The winner of that receives some nice invitations, including one to the Dubai Desert Classic, so that is one of my goals when I get back to playing on the MENA Tour later in the year.
“It’s been a great experience, as well as a huge learning curve, for me so far. Last week, for instance, I played with Zane Scotland, who holds the record for the most MENA Tour wins.”
Indeed, on seeing that Alexander had dashed home from Thailand to take part in the golfclubs4cash-sponsored event at the Braids, Scotland described that as a “decent effort” and also described Alexander as a “top lad”.
“My aim this summer is to try and win one of the 72-hole events on the Scottish amateur circuit and I definitely feel I’ve got the game to be able to compete in those tournaments,” added Alexander. “
Noon has followed his dad, Jim, into the caddying world, getting to know the Hunter brothers and Alexander through his role as caddie master at The Renaissance Club.
“I don’t play a huge amount of golf myself these days but it is good to get a taste of some competitive action again,” he said. “The Dispatch Trophy, of course, is an event I’ve read about over the years and it is great to finally play in it.”
For both Cameron Gallagher and Connor Wilson, that opportunity has come at just 15, the duo having joined forces with two experienced campaigners in Stuart Johnston and Scott Knowles to give the Stephen Gallacher Foundation a winning start in the event on Sunday.
They now take on Carrickvale, bidding for a fifth trophy triumph in ten years and riding high after a weekend win over big rivals Silverknowes, in tonight’s third round.
“It was a brilliant experience,” said Gallagher of the Stephen Gallacher Foundation team winning their opening match, a hard-earned success at that as they beat Hailes C at the 20th.
“It is good fun playing in the same team as Scott and Stuart. The banter was also good out there and I think that helps you relax.”
The Longniddry youngster is a man on a mission, adding: “I lost in the final of the Lothians Boys Championship up here last year, so it would be great if I could go one better in this event.”
Wilson, who is equally excited about getting his first taste of the historic event, has Dunbar as his home club but also plays at both Gifford and Castle Park.
Indeed, his mum is part of a consortium that now own the latter, having injected new life into the facility after re-opening it following a brief closure.
Cameron Adam, a 12-year-old, is standing by to replace Johnston tonight if he is unavailable while Knowles reckoned he’d be needing to see a chiropractor for his back due to it being “knackered”.
For their next test, against defending champions Hailes A, Duddingston team Temple are set to bring in Keith Millar and maybe also former Lothians champion Stuart Smith, too.
They were both unavailable at the weekend due to them having entered an event next door at Mortonhall but one will certainly be called into action as a replacement for Iain Stavert.
Scottish Universities will also be heading back into action with some changes from the weekend, with Sandy Reid and Phil Pritchett coming in for Roddy Forgie and Dave Greenshields.
They are up against Braids United, this year’s host club and already feeling proud of themselves after pulling off a shock against Stewart’s Melville on Sunday.
4.30pm: Harrison v Heriots Quad
4.40pm: Carrickvale B v Barnton Hotel
4.50pm: Carrickvale v Stephen Gallacher Foundation
5.00pm: Temple Golfing Society v Hailes A
5.10pm: Harrison B v Hailes B
5.20pm: Third v BBT
5.30pm: Braid United v Scottish Universities
5.40pm: Edinburgh Thistle v Heriots