HAVING last tasted success in the event in the 1950s, it was perhaps appropriate that Caermount emerged as winners of this year’s Evening News Dispatch Trophy at the start of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
They chalked up a third Braids triumph overall – after wins in 1933 and 1957 – with a straightforward success in a scrappy final against Harrison B.
As had been the case throughout the 113th staging of the Edinburgh Leisure-supported event, Caermount’s top couple, the father and son pairing of Ian and Mark Dickson, blazed the trail.
From the moment Mark, who plays off plus two, almost holed his approach at the first, they always held the upper hand against John Cafferty and Stuart More, two former winners with Harrison’s top team.
It almost became a damage limitation exercise for Cafferty and More after they lost the eighth in extraordinary circumstances to go four down.
A rare wayward shot from Dickson Jnr saw Caermount play three off the tee but they made a birdie off that ball as Dickson Snr chipped in from the front of the green.
Harrison B had been in good shape off their drive but More flew the green with their approach and they took four to get down from there, losing the 325-yard hole to a bogey-5. More then holed a good putt for a half at the next before Harrison got it back to three down with a par-5 at the tenth.
But poor drives from Cafferty, who looked uncharacteristically out of sorts, at both the 12th and 14th cost holes on each occasion.
At the back, Caermount club captain Martin Hopley and Gary Henshaw also got off to a fast start, winning the first with a par then the third with a birdie, where Hopley hit their approach to three feet.
But Iain Ashley, the Harrison club captain, and Cameron Bruce stuck to their task and gradually turned that one around.
Despite having to play out sideways from close to the gorse, they won the seventh with a par then, after losing the next, claimed three holes on the trot from the tenth to get their noses in front.
Caermount squared matters again with a par at the 13th before Harrison B won the next two to keep their team’s flickering hopes alive.
Alas, as the top couples were playing the last with Caermount five up in that one, Hopley drove the green at the 16th then rolled in a birdie putt to clinch a 4 and 3 triumph.
“This is right up there with anything I’ve achieved in the game, inclduing two Halford Hewitt triumphs,” said 44-year-old Mortonhall man Hopley.
“I’ve played in the Dispatch Trophy for 21 years and this is the first time I’ve even managed to get into the second week.
“I had a good feeling all week, to be honest, and the draw opened up for us when Carrickvale were knocked out in the first round.
“On a personal level, this achievement is extra special due to the fact my father was Caermount president when he died two years ago and I know he’d be proud of the club just now.”
Henshaw, a 41-year-old who plays his golf at Bruntsfield Links, added: “This is my biggest achievement by a country mile. I made the quarter-finals once with West Mains but this is the first time I’ve played in the event in five years.”
While it was certainly a team effort, both Hopley and Henshaw were quick to acknowledge the significant contribution from the Dickson duo.
“They did the heavy lifting most of the time and Mark was certainly the star of the show,” added Henshaw.
It was third-time lucky for Dickson Jnr at the Braids, having lost in the final of the Lothians Boys’ Championship there in the past.
“This makes up for those disappointments and it’s nice that it’s been with my dad,” said the 21-year-old, who has one more year to go on a golf scholarship at the University of South Carolina.
“I’m playing in both the East of Scotland Open (at Lundin) and Newlands Trophy (at Lanark) over the next few weeks and hopefully I can do well in them.
“This time next year I’ll have graduated and I will have some big decisions to make then. But I will definitely be back to depend this trophy.”
Dad Ian, 52, added: “This is a dream come true for me. It’s a great thrill for me to play with Mark and, all in all, it’s been a great family week for us.
“After losing twice in the final of the Lothians Boys’ Championship, I think this has definitely got the monkey off Mark’s back at the Braids.” Both semi-finals were close affairs – Harrison B squeezing past Turnhouse team BBT by one hole while Caermount won 2 and 1 against British Rugby Club of Paris.
BBT’s top couple of Neil Anderson and Stevie Robb lost the last, as did Steven Armstrong and Olly McCrone after they’d also three-putted the 17th.
The Dicksons finished all square in a ding-dong battle with BRC’s David Bell and Colin McClung but Hopley and Henshaw dug deep at the back to claim a two-hole win over Charlie Maran and Alan Williams.
For the second year running, the Evening News Ladies Trophy was won by the Broomieknowe quartet of Wendy Nicholson, Kate McIntosh, Sandra Hennessy and Linda Wemyss.
They triumphed 6 and 5 over the double foursome against Harburn’s Janet Hardie, Anne Stokes, Fiona Smith and Alison McBride.