Carrickvale want to make it ‘six of the best’ by coming out on top against some old rivals and also some new challengers when they defend the Dispatch Trophy.
The 118th staging gets underway tomorrow at the Braids, where 28 teams are set to do battle in the first round as the event enters a new era.
Up until now, the tournament had been restricted to non course-owning clubs but, following a sensible rule change, the entry criteria now reflects the modern-day golfing scene.
Opening the door to course-owning clubs has generated a real buzz around this year’s Golfclubs4cash-sponsored event as 11 new teams enter the fray for the first time.
They include Edinburgh Summer League champions Turnhouse and Gullane, who have pulled off the league and cup double three years running in the East Lothian Winter League.
“It’s great news for the evolution of the event,” said Carrickvale’s Allyn Dick of new life having been breathed into the tournament in its second year under the Edinburgh Leisure banner.
“Too often with golf, the excuse for change is ‘we’ve always done it that way’ but all these new teams, as well as the introduction of a sponsor for the first time last year, is fantastic for the Dispatch Trophy.
“Having the new teams will hopefully stop the breaching of tournament rules by getting players at the last minute, as has gone on for years, that are neither part of current clubs or societies.
“It definitely makes it more interesting and challenging, especially as some of the new teams are fielding accomplished Summer League players while Gullane have a great foursome record in their Winter League.”
Carrickvale claimed a fifth triumph in 10 years last May, beating Turnhouse team BBT 7&6 in the final, and are back with the same quartet. That means Dick joining forces with Craig Deerness while Craig Elliot teams up with Paul Cunningham.
Having been among 18 teams to receive byes, the holders enter the action on Sunday against Lochend, who will be no pushovers.
“We have a tough start, so fingers crossed we can make a decent run at defending our title and match Silverknowes on six titles,” added Dick, who is among a whole host of former Lothians champions playing in this year’s event.
“That would be an amazing achievement in such a short period for Carrickvale.”
BBT, who face Silverknowes in probably the pick of the first-round ties, are returning with three of the players from last year’s final – father and son Keith and Mikey Watt resuming their partnership while Neil Anderson will have Stevie Robb rather than Ollie McCrone as his partner.
Silverknowes, meanwhile, have shaken up their line-up after suffering a second-round exit at the hands of Carrickvale last year.
Paul Ross makes his first appearance since he was on a triumphant team in 2010 while there’s a debut for Murray Paterson in a side completed by experienced duo Tam Caldwell and Keith Reilly.
“It is great to see all the new teams involved and great going forward for the competition,” said Reilly as he shared Dick’s excitement about this staging and the event’s bright future.
Like Silverknowes, Hailes have entered three teams, including the winning line-up from 2015 – Steve McCulloch, Alan MacKay, Gary Malone and Marc Cairnie.
There’s also a familiar look to Caermount’s team, with Ian Dickson, Martin Hopley and Gary Henshaw back to try and repeat their 2012 triumph and Eric Mair joining them at the outset.
“The Dispatch is a hugely popular and historic event that we would love to do well in again,” sad Dickson, who not only won the Mortonhall championship last season but also got down to scratch for the first time at the age of 58.
Edinburgh Thistle’s absence is a major disappointment, but the likes of host club Harrison, Braids United and Edinburgh Western will be giving it their all to try and make home advantage count for the first time since 2000.
Harrison’s top team sees Donny Munro stepping up to join forces with Stuart More, Dougie Waugh and Allan Stewart while stepping into battle for BU are Mark Robertson, Tom Greer, Paul Gillen and debutant Calum Regan.
Newcomers Swanston New are sending out Simon Hermiston, James Tetlow, Andy Hunter and Anthony Harrison after a stronger quartet in Callum Mackinnon, Scott Fergus, Ross Fergus and David McGinlay were selected for Colinton Mains.
“I was pleased to see that Swanston’s lower handicap players have been chosen for the Colinton Mains team as it shows respect to the traditions of the Dispatch Trophy,” said club captain Graeme Millar.
Like so many others, he is licking his lips over this year’s event. “The domination by certain teams was a contributory factor to the drop in entries,” said Millar, a Dispatch Trophy stalwart himself. “I trust and hope that some of these teams will be looking over their shoulder at the new clubs that have entered!”
Merchants man Gary Stevenson makes his debut in the Stevenson & Cheyne (1983) Ltd team alongside Fraser Smith, John Hunter and Gregor Emmerson. “Gary’s father, Duncan, has played in it before and has extolled the virtues of the event to him,” said Smith of that particular newcomer.
While change is certainly welcome, the Dispatch Trophy, with all its history and tradition, will still be an occasion to remember absent friends.
Continuing to honour the memory of multiple winner Ian Taylor, who died before last year’s event, Bank of Scotland will again be wearing his trademark red trousers.
First round (Saturday): 7.00 RICS v Kilspindie; 7.15 Silverknowes v BBT; 7.30 Broomieknowe v Hailes A; 7.45 Gullane v Third; 8.00 Kilgour Private Clients v Caermount; 8.15 Kilgour Wealth Management v Cramond; 8.30 Harrison v Braids United; 8.45 Watsonians v Turnhouse; 9.00 Dunbar v Munro Heating; 9.15 Bank of Scotland v Harrison Seniors; 9.30 Tantallon v Ye Monks of Ye Braids; 9.45 Munro Bathrooms v British Rugby Club of Paris; 10.00 Edinburgh Western v Hailes C; 10.15 Royal Burgess v Harrison B.
Second round (Sunday): 7.45 Harrison or Braids United v Edinburgh Leisure; 8.00 Royal Bank of Scotland v Stevenson & Cheyne; 8.15 George Heriot’s B v Murrayfield; 8.30 Lochend v Carrickvale; 8.45 Swanston New v Silverknowes Generations; 9.15 Silverknowes 50s v George Heriot’s A; 9.30 Hailes B v Stephen Gallacher Foundation; 9.45 Edinburgh Western B v Colinton Mains; 10.00 Stewart’s Melville FP v Liberton; 10.15 Prestonfield v Watsonians or Turnhouse.