European Tour and Ryder Cup star Stephen Gallacher has handed the Dispatch Trophy a boost by entering a team bearing his name for the first time.
What’s more, it will include his son Jack as he joins forces with another promising youngster, as well as two former winners of the popular event at the Braids.
The Stephen Gallacher Foundation is a welcome addition to the 2016 entry list, especially in the tournament’s first staging under the Edinburgh Leisure banner.
As he cut his own golfing teeth in the Lothians, Gallacher didn’t get the chance to play in the Dispatch Trophy himself. But plenty of his friends did, so the three-time European Tour winner is well aware of the tournament’s history and stature in Capital sport.
“I’m delighted that my Foundation will be represented in the Dispatch Trophy this year,” said Gallacher, who has never forgotten his golfing roots.
“It’s a fantastic event that is played on a course, the Braids, that is perfect for foursomes golf, hence the dramatic finishes we’ve heard about over the years.”
The first Stephen Gallacher Foundation team to get a taste of the Dispatch Trophy will be a mix of youth and experience.
Both Jack, who plays his golf at Bathgate, Kingsfield and Linlithgow, and Dunbar’s Connor Wilson will be making their debuts in the event.
But the two players joining forces with them, Scott Knowles and Stuart Johnston, are Dispatch Trophy veterans who know the Braids like the back of their hands.
Knowles, a winner with Carrick Knowe in 1999 and 2004, is the Foundation’s manager, while Johnston, who was also part of the first of those victories, is involved in the running of it, too.
“While we only have the one team in this year, we will be looking to add two more next year, one being a girls’ team,” said Knowles, a former Scottish Golfer of the Year. “It’s a new venture for us but is ideal in helping the kids learn about foursomes matchplay and also the Dispatch Trophy.”
Both Gallacher and Wilson will also be heading to the Braids for the Lothians Boys’ Championship, which falls straight afterwards.
“It will be good practice for that,” added Knowles. “The Dispatch was a great learning ground for Stuart and myself over the years, with all the ups and downs. The fact we have both won it will hopefully help Jack and Connor and the enthusiasm and skill they both have will hopefully rub off on Stuart and I. I am sure it will be a great experience for us all whatever happens.”
This year’s event takes place on May 21, 22, 24, 26 and 28. Entries close on May 4 and Hailes, the 2015 winners, are urging past competitors – new ones, too – to embrace the first event with Edinburgh Leisure at the helm. “Having been delighted to hear that the event is going ahead as planned, we will be entering three teams again and are proud to be defending the trophy,” said Alan Mackay, who joined forces with Steve McCulloch, Marc Cairnie and Gary Malone to clinch the Kingsknowe club’s first triumph in the event since 1975.
“The presence of the trophy at our dinner in January was the highlight of the night and all four team members spoke highly of how much it meant to each and every one of them.”
Mackay, who holed from 40 feet for an eagle at the last to beat Silverknowes in the final, added: “Everyone who was there on that afternoon has talked about how loud the cheer was when the pitch went in. That shows the spirit and support that, not only Hailes had, but there is for the Dispatch itself.
“We would encourage any non-course owning club in the Lothians to enter at least one team to help keep alive the oldest team tournament in golf.”