Wilson Morton is just glad that he no longer has to rely on public transport to get to the Braids for his Dispatch Trophy return – 50 years after he first played in the event.
Out of the many plus points that have come from the rules for the historic tournament being relaxed to allow course-owning clubs to enter for the first time, the appearance of Morton in a Dunbar team is absolutely brilliant.
It’s an opportunity, after all, that he never expected and the memories have come flooding back as Morton prepares to represent the East Lothian club this weekend in the Golfclubs4cash-sponsored event.
“I first played in the Dispatch for Harrison Buliders in 1967 or 1968,” he recalled. “I lived in Bilston in those days and at 16 did not drive and had to get to the Braids by public transport.
“That was a challenge in those days as the buses that went via Fairmilehead were few and far between, and I was either running up the hill to the Braids to make my tee time, or was there hours early. I also recall walking from Bilston to Lothianburn to catch a Corporation bus the rest of the way.”
As Morton prepared to make his return – Dunbar face Muno Heating in Saturday’s first round – he spoke fondly of his past experiences in the event.
“The opportunity to play competitive golf was the driver for me, and I still recall who I partnered and some of the guys we played against,” he added.
“In 1969, I joined Scottish Life and represented them in the 70s and 90s. I was down south in the 80s and did not play. When the opportunity to play for Dunbar in this year’s event came along, I felt I could not turn it down.”
It’s not just the size of the field that has changed since Morton, a three-time Lothians Champion of Champions winner in the 70s, first played in a tournament that is being staged for the 118th time this year.
“If I recall correctly, substitutes were not allowed and, if your team did not turn up, you were not allowed in the draw the following year,” he mused.
Joining Morton in the squad Dunbar have selected are Stewart Black, Richard Coverdale, Kenny Bisset and Jamie Duguid, the latter returning to the scene of his Lothians Boys Championship victory last summer.
If Stewart’s Melville make it to the later stages next week, they might then have the reigning Scottish Boys champion trying to help them go all the way.
Eric McIntosh is playing in the Welsh Open Stroke Play this weekend but has been named in Stew Mel’s squad along with Stuart McLaren, Derek Miller, Ally Ritchie, David Donaldson and Drew McIntosh.
“It’s a competition that Stewart’s are wanting to go further in and potentially win over the next couple of years,” said McLaren, who has been in cracking form this year. “We have always been able to compete but never got further than the quarter-finals in recent years. This year we have a strong squad, all playing out of Bruntsfield Links, and we are hoping they can use their knowledge of each other’s games to progress.”
Tantallon, who join Dunbar among the debutants, will no doubt feel similar. In Fraser Symon, John Stewart, Michael Davidson and Liam Brown, after all, they’re being represented by three-quarters of the Bass Rock team that won the County Cup in East Lothian last year.