Merchants members eye Spanish success on back of successful 2021 campaign

Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club have enjoyed a year to savour, including a potential triumph on Spanish soil having been lined up next year.

By Martin Dempster
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 12:40 pm
Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club are through to the semi-finals of the Annodata Matchplay, having been represented in the most recent round by, from left, Andrew Helm, Kenny Roy, John Hunter, Mike Leitch and Fraser Smith. Adam George, not pictured, was also in the team.
Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club are through to the semi-finals of the Annodata Matchplay, having been represented in the most recent round by, from left, Andrew Helm, Kenny Roy, John Hunter, Mike Leitch and Fraser Smith. Adam George, not pictured, was also in the team.

The historic Capital club’s run of success has not been known for “several years”, according to club manager Niall Watson.

It has included an eye-catching campaign in the UK-wide Annodata Matchplay Championship, with the Merchants having successfully made it through to the last four.

Led by current club champion John Hunter, the team won through four rounds, playing at home twice and away at North Berwick and The Woll, to be the only Scottish club to reach the last-16 stage.

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Merchants members enjoyed a double success in the City of Edinburgh Open Ladies Foursomes, with Jane MacDonald and Una Fleming, on the left, landing the Consolation Trophy and Sarah Stitchbury and Linsey Hunter, on the right, claiming the main prize, the Gibson Trophy.

Home wins over Whittaker Golf Club (5-1) and Poulton Park in Warrington (3-2) then secured their semi-final spot at the Montecastillo Golf Club in Spain.

The semi-finals and final are taking place at the host venue for the European Tour’s Volvo Masters between 1997 and 2001 in March.

Hunter has been joined in playing in that event by Andrew Helm, Kenny Roy, Mike Leitch, Fraser Smith, Adam George, Ross Hannah, Andrew Green and Henry Palmer.

Success has also been delivered on the ladies’ front, notably in the the City of Edinburgh Open Ladies Foursomes at the Braids.

Margaret Clark, the ladies’ convenor, has been running a very popular Get into Golf programme at the Merchants this year. Picture: Merchants Golf Club

The prestigious Gibson Challenge Cup was won this year by Merchants duo Lindsey Hunter and club champion Sarah Stitchbury while, not to be outdone, past captain Jane MacDonald and Una Fleming won the Consolation Plate.

“The ladies’ section, led by convenor Margaret Clark, have been running a very popular Get into Golf programme this year,” said Watson.

“Over 60 ladies new to the game have participated in a series of coaching sessions and over 50 per cent have converted to membership, with coach Henry Palmer proving to be a big hit.”

In addition, the gents’ team finished second in the South Edinburgh District Seniors League, satisfying result for retiring convenor Colin Tait, who had served the club in this role since the league was formed in 1994.

The Merchants of Edinburgh clubhouse. Picture: Paul Mortimer

estermont Golf Club, a club within the Merchants, has also been resurrected this year, having originally formed in 1958 before being disbanded in 2008.

The aforementioned Roy and Hunter led the rebirth with a healthy initial group comprising most of the current gents’ team and a significant proportion of the growing number of younger members.

Their aim is to encourage the enjoyment and improvement of the game amongst the younger members of the Merchants.

“All in all, things are looking good at Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club,” said Watson. “Like many clubs, we have welcomed a good number of new members and seen a surge in members registering for a handicap.

“The feeling is that many more people are making their way to Merchants, where the standard of play is clearly on the rise.”

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