Opening day of 123rd Dispatch Trophy one of best in its rich history
Yes, that’s a bold thing to say when you are talking about an event that was founded in 1890, but, for one reason or another, it was an extremely special start to the 123rd edition at the Braids.
First and foremost, there was no disguising what it means to the players, both old and young, to be involved in a tournament that boasts one of the best trophies in golf.
They also love it being held on one of the best municipal courses in the world, which, of course, is mainly due to the fact it nestles high above the Capital with stunning views in every direction but is also brilliant for match-play over a double foursome.
Adding to those elements on this occasion was the return of a number of players who’d competed before but not for a long time, as well as several newcomers, including a rugby legend and two former professionals.
Most of the 22 ties spread over two rounds were tight as drives were boomed, shots holed from fairways and putts knocked in from both on and off the greens.
Oh, and for a spell in the morning, ties were starting to the sound of Beyonce carrying across the city from a sound check ahead of her gig later in the day at Murrayfield.
On a mainly benign day for an event now staged in association with Edinburgh Leisure, the main headlines were provided by Duddingston, Bank of Scotland and Bass Rock.
Being represented in the for the first time, Duddingston came through two ties against Turnhouse and Silverknowes, winning the first one comfortably but then having to dig deep in the afternoon.
David Miller, who’d come in as a substitute for Gary Thomson from the morning match, holed from off the green for a crucial half at the par-3 17th alongside Connor Scott in the back tie.
Seconds later, Allyn Dick did likewise at the last for a birdie alongside Jamie Duguid before the match was effectively decided after the back Silverknowes pairing found the dreaded ‘Graves’ at the 18th.
“That’s as good as I’ve seen Keith Reilly play in my entire time in this event and he holed an incredible footage in putts,” said Dick in tipping his hat to one of the Silverknowes stalwarts.
Mortonhall, the winners in both 2018 and 2019 before reaching a third successive final last year, fell at the first hurdle on this occasion.
Wearing red trousers or shorts in honour of Dispatch Trophy legend Ian Taylor, a Bank of Scotland team comprising Calum Burgess, Andy Stevenson, John Gallacher and Neil Sutherland beat them by one hole.
“A big scalp, so we are happy with that result,” declared Burgess, who added of the tribute to Taylor: “We’ve done it before and have decided to keep the tradition going.”
Bass Rock, playing in the event for the first time to coincide with the club’s 150th anniversary, beat Lochend in the morning then Craigmillar Park in the second round.
Duncan Forbes replaced Gareth Pugh for the latter after playing in the Tantallon club championship qualifier earlier in the day.
“I teed off at 7am, got round in two hours and 45 minutes, shot a 74 and then came to play here. It’s been tiring but nice and now I’m off for a beer!”
Peter Johnstone only found out at around 9.10am that he was needed to replace John Archibald less than an hour later for defending champions Heriot’s Quad.
But his dash was worth it as the Gullane member helped the schools’ side prevail against 2012 winners Caermount after the sort of finish that is typical in this event.
Playing at the front for Heriot’s Quad, Dave Campbell and Innes Christie lost the last four holes only for that to be counter-balanced by Johnstone and Scott Johnston taking the last five holes at the back. “It was the Dispatch and the Braids,” said a smiling Campbell.
Helped by some big-hitting - Stuart Langlands almost drove the 15th green into a gentle breeze - the top Heriot’s team is also through to the last 16.
Scottish rugby legend Andy Irvine made his debut in the event at 71, admitting his presence in a British Rugby Club of Paris team that had featured Gavin Hastings in the past had left him feeling “nervous”.
In a team that also contained Colin McClung, Robin Carmichael and David Bell, Irvine suffered a 6&4 defeat against Granton Golfing Society, but he admitted afterwards: “It brought back some great memories.”
Kenny Alexander, who played against Irvine along with Alex Renton in the back match, said it had been a pleasure to spend some time in the company of the former Scotland and All Blacks player.
“What a lovely guy and we thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Alexander, admitting that had also been helped by him and Renton being under par and not having lost any balls in the gorse bushes.
Stuart Middleton, a two-time winner with Edinburgh Thistle, marked his welcome return to the event by helping Dalmahoy progress with a tight win over Hailes C.
“It must be around 30 years since I last played in it,” said Middleton, referring, in fact, to a 1993 final defeat at the hands of Prestonfield club Crags.
The plus-four handicapper is joining forces on this occasion with Richard Fyvie, the former Pumpherston pro who is now back playing amateur golf and working as LIberton’s club secretary.
Chris Laird and James Devlin are the other team members in Dalmahoy’s first foray into the event, though Third, a club within the Kirknewton club, won back in 1972.
Fellow 17-year-olds Jake Johnston and Rory McClafferty made impressive winning debuts in a Kilgour Wealth Management side with Scott Whigham and Sean Roberts.
Johnston and McClafferty finished six up at the back to secure a 3&2 success over Stewart’s Melville FP as Kilgour Wealth Management made the most of being replacements for Tantallon.
Referring to his dad Stuart, who helps run the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, Royal Burgess plus-one player Johnston said: “I’ve caddied for him in this event a couple of times.”
Playing for Baberton club Riccarton, Jake Edgome produced the shot of the day as he holed a full wedge for an eagle-2 at the 15th against Merchants.
Playing alongside Ramsay McCall, the Riccarton pair then went two up with a birdie at the next hole only for opponents Andrew Helm and Richard Craig to take the last two holes, including a chip-and-putt birdie at the last.
Coupled with Adam George and John Hunter finishing two up at the back, that edged Merchants through in one of several tightly-fought tussles.
Murrayfield, including two newcomers in Harry Hawthorne and Archie Wyatt, had a surprisingly easy 7&6 passage against three-time winners Harrison.
“They gave us some cheap holes,” reported Murrayfield team manager Stevie Anderson, “though, in saying that, our boys were also pretty steady.”
After a 19th-hole win in the first round, Harrison 21 then went out in the last 32, but the Harrison flag is still flying after a B team comprising George Ackroyd, Ian Ashley, Justin White and Richard Thomas edged past debutants Donuts@9th Newbattle.
“Everyone got one,” said Ackroyd of donuts being dished out by their opponents on the ninth ninth, “and that was actually the highlight of the round!”
After seeing the club’s two other teams suffer agonising one-hole defeats, Hailes A are delighted to still be standing along with Royal Burgess, Colinton Mains, Cramond and Watsonians.
Craig Gordon, another former pro, enjoyed his Dispatch debut for Hailes, especially after being teased on a Whatsapp group that includes Fyvie on Friday night, while Colinton Mains man Paul Stewart redeemed himself after driving into the gorse at the 16th by then holing out from 95 yards to win the hole.
The only disappointing thing on the day was that Lothians legend Graham Ewart wasn’t able to take his customary seat beside the first tee to cheer on his beloved Hailes and Heriot’s.
But the appearance of the likes of long-time secretary Robin Mutch and fellow former committee member George McLeod, as well as former Lothians president Bob Kilgour showed that the Dispatch Trophy gets in the blood and that’s the beauty of this great golf tournament.
Turnhouse (Craig Docherty and Connor Currie 0; Calum Robinson and Keith Watt 0); Duddingston (Jamie Duguid and Allyn Dick 6; Gary Thomson and Connor Scott 5).
Duddingston won 11&10
Hailes B (Andy Sanderson and Gary Malone 1; Mark Cairnie and Gavin James 0); Silverknowes (Keith Reilly and Graeme Robertson 0; Chris Milligan and Connor McWatt 2).
Silverknowes won by one hole
Edinburgh Leisure (Matty Craigie and Scott Finlay 0; Kenny Craigie and Matty Harper 0); Hailes (Alan Mackay and Andy Rowe 0; Craig Gordon and Danny Crolla 8).
Hailes won 8&7
Harrison 21 (Brian Byars and Allan Stewart 0; Mark Hyson and Simon Moggie 1); Braids United (Gordon Brown and Martin Rutherford 1; Glen Marsters and Andy White 0).
Harrison 21 won at 19th
Silverknowes Over-50s (Ian Randall and Iain Doig 0; Gary Cheyne and Ian Connolly 0); Craigmillar Park (Andrew Fleming and Grant Fleming 0; David Wilson and Craig Murison 4).
Craigmillar Park won 4&3
Lochend (Graeme Markey and Jamie Crisp 0; Thomas Burnett and Davie Graham 0); Bass Rock (Justin Ross and Andy Hall 5; Stewart Rowell and Gareth Pugh 2).
Bass Rock won 7&6
Duddingston (Jamie Duguid and Allyn Dick 0; David Miller and Connor Scott 3); Silverknowes (Keith Reilly and Graeme Robertson 2; Chris Milligan and Connor McWatt 0).
Duddingston won by one hole
Hailes (Alan Mackay and Andy Rowe 2; Craig Gordon and Danny Crolla 1); Westermont (Ross Hannah and Calum Hill 0; David Meek and Kenny Roy 0).
Hailes won 3&2
Dalmahoy (Stuart Middleton and Richard Fyvie 0; Chris Laird and James Devlin 6); Hailes C (Andrew Law and Graeme Muir 5; Robbie Sanderson and Fraser Sutherland 0).
Dalmahoy won by one hole
Kilgour Wealth Management (Scott Whigham and Sean Roberts 0; Jake Johnston and Rory McLafferty 6); Stewart’s Melville FP (Graeme Nisbet and Dave Donaldson 3; Scott Simpson and Drew McIntosh 0).
Kilgour Wealth Management won 3&2
Merchants (Andrew Helm and Richard Craig 0; Adam George and John Hunter 2); Riccarton (Jake Edgcombe and Ramsay McCall 0; Ally MacPhail and Mark Riddell 0).
Merchants won 2&1
Granton Golfing Society (John MacRae and Billy Cadona 2; Kenny Alexander and Alex Renton 4); British Rugby Club of Paris (Colin McClung and Robin Carmichael 0; David Bell and Andy Irvine 0).
Granton Golfing Society won 6&4
Harrison B (George Ackroyd and Ian Ashley 3; Justin White and Richard Thomas 0); Donuts@9th Newbattle (John Nisbet and Steven Myatt jnr 0; Fraser Jervis and Paul McLeod 1).
Harrison B won 2&1
Harrison (Donny Munro and Dougie Waugh 0; Stuart More and John Cafferty 0); Murrayfield (Lloyd Dunlop and Harry Hawthorn 3; Stuart Thurlow and Archie Wyatt 4).
Murrayfield won 7&6
Caermount (Iain Parrish and Martin Hopley 2; Gary Henshaw and Eric Mair 0); Heriot’s Quad (Innes Christie and Dave Campbell 0; Pete Johnstone and Scott Johnston 3).
Heriot’s Quad won by one hole
Royal Burgess (Graeme Boyd and Brian Tait 0; Kenny Walker and Duncan Johnston 3); Dirleton Castle (Murray Saunders and Greg Holston 2; William Ladbroke and Thomas Simmonds 0).
Royal Burgess won by one hole
Bank of Scotland (Calum Burgess and Andy Stevenson 5; John Gallacher and Neil Sutherland 0); Mortonhall (Ian Dickson and Murray Lorimer 0; Bill Buchan and Graeme Clark 4).
Bank of Scotland won by one hole
Silverknowes Generation (Aidan Renton and Liam Wilson 0; Craig Halcrow and Jack Carlin 0); Colinton Mains (Paul Stewart and Kyle Brown 3; Tom Corps and Ross Fergus 1).
Colinton Mains won 4&3
Edinburgh Thistle (Steve Cameron and Donald Anderson 0; Barry Anderson and Ian Cropley 5); Cramond (Jim Keggie and Calum McKinstry 7; Keith Tulloch and Steve Garioch 0).
Cramond won 3&1
Heriot’s (Sam Hall and Steven Sinclair 0; Stuart Langlands and Scott Dickson 3); Edinburgh Western (Andrew Rennie and Kevin McDonald 2; Danny Cameron and Jimmy Robertson 0).
Heriot’s won by one hole
Watsonians (Harry Carruthers and Jamie Gullan 6; Andrew Hogg and Greg Nicolson 4); Harrison 21 (Brian Byars and Allan Stewart 0; Mark Hyson and Simon Moggie 0).
Watsonians won 10&9
Craigmillar Park (Andrew Fleming and Grant Fleming 0; David Wilson and Craig Murison 0); Bass Rock (Justin Ross and Andy Hall 4; Stewart Rowell and Duncan Forbes 2).
Bass Rock won 6&5