Braids hailed as 'best course in Edinburgh' by Dispatch Trophy veteran

Graeme Millar, second right, is playing for Swanston club Colinton Mains in the 124th Dispatch Trophy at the Braids, where his team-mates are, from left, Scott Fergus, Ross Fergus and Calum Burgess. Picture: National WorldGraeme Millar, second right, is playing for Swanston club Colinton Mains in the 124th Dispatch Trophy at the Braids, where his team-mates are, from left, Scott Fergus, Ross Fergus and Calum Burgess. Picture: National World
Graeme Millar, second right, is playing for Swanston club Colinton Mains in the 124th Dispatch Trophy at the Braids, where his team-mates are, from left, Scott Fergus, Ross Fergus and Calum Burgess. Picture: National World
Colinton Mains man reckons municipal course is second to none in city for ‘shot-making’

Close to 50 years after making his Dispatch Trophy debut, Graeme Millar is back at the Braids and absolutely loving being involved in the event’s 124th edition.

Millar is playing for Colinton Mains in the Edinburgh Leisure-supported event, having joined forces with brothers Ross and Scott Fergus and Calum Burgess to beat five-time winners Carrickvale in a tight tussle on Saturday to progress to the third round on Tuesday night.

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“I really enjoyed my return to the tournament, having first played in it in 1975 as a 17-year-old, which was the year after I won the Lothians Junior Championship at this truly magnificent golf course,” said Millar. “Now, at the age of 66, I’m probably the oldest player in the field!”

Colinton Mains face Harrison 21 in the last 16, which also involves Swanston, where Millar is the club captain and has done a great job there working in tandem with Mike Robson, the club manager and another well-known figure in Lothians golf.

“The atmosphere around the first tee at the Dispatch Trophy has never really changed, albeit the tournament has, of course, changed significantly over the years,” added Millar of the size of the entry having decreased but the event itself having lost none of its magic as a consequence of that.

As for the venue, having been among those to praise the brilliant condition it is in for this year’s event, he said: “The Braids No 1 course remains, without question in my opinion, the best golf course in Edinburgh.

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“We can talk about the Dalmahoys, the Bruntsfields, Royal Burgess and perhaps Mortonhall and Duddingston as courses which could receive that particular accolade, but none of them reward true shot-making like the Braids does.

“It’s just a pity that a major amateur event or even a young professionals’ tournament hasn’t been staged there and, whilst someone would probably break 60, I would like to see them try!”

The Harrison 21 team includes Scott Knowles, a former Scottish Order of Merit winner and someone who has attended events all around Europe in his role as a Great Britain & Ireland boys’ selector.

“I think my first appearance was in 1979,” recalled Knowes, who manages the Stephen Gallacher Foundation and was Gallacher’s right-hand man when he captained Europe to victory in last year’s Junior Ryder Cup in Rome. “It’s still good fun and the format is always enjoyable.”

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Swanston’s side includes Malcolm Campbell, who is enjoying his return to the historic team tournament after an absence of around seven years, admitting the trees on the course have “grown considerably” since his last appearance.

“I just feel old, to be honest,” he said, laughing. “I’ve got a dodgy hip and back and feel sore for a couple of days after playing, but I’m still enjoying it.”

Hailes A, the side standing between Swanston and a place in the last eight, have a new pairing in Craig Gordon and Danny Crolla at the front but it’s a Jack and Victor-style duo in Alan Mackay and Gary Malone. “We’ve maybe missed only one year playing together,” reported Mackay.

Murrayfield, who face 2023 beaten finalists Heriot’s FP in a tasty Tuesday tie, have newcomer Carl Johnstone in their ranks. “I’d played here once before Saturday and that was in the snow,” declared the Cumbrian who feels like an “honorary” Scot after living north of the border for ten years.

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Defending champions Duddingston take on Royal Burgess in another mouth-watering match. “We were better in the afternoon on Saturday than we were in the morning, when we were on the wrong side a lot and were very lucky,” admitted Duddingston’s Allyn Dick, who is chasing a seventh gold medal in the event.

Six-time winners Silverknowes take on Turnhouse team BBT while Silverknowes Generations, with father and son Iain and John Connolly teaming up for them at the back, facing Turnhouse.

After winning a “classic Dispatch” tussle with Harrison B on Saturday, Edinburgh Thistle now meet Riccarton. “Steve Robinson was making his debut for us and did great,” reported Donald Anderson of his partner for Thistle.

Third-round ties

4.15pm Duddingston v Royal Burgess

4.25pm Bass Rock v Lochend B

4.35pm Hailes A v Swanston

4.50pm Murrayfield v Heriot’s FP

5.00pm Harrison 21 v Colinton Mains

5.10pm Riccarton v Edinburgh Thistle

5.20pm Silverknowes v BBT

5.30pm Turnhouse v Silverknowes Generations

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