As the 117th staging but first with golfclubs4cash as title sponsor and first one being run by Edinburgh Leisure got underway today at the Braids, both Carrickvale and Silverknowes eased to comfortable opening-round wins.
Carrickvale, four-times winners since 2007, recorded an 8&7 triumph over a Bank of Scotland team sporting red trousers as a tribute to club legend Ian Taylor, who died earlier this month after a short illness.
Allyn Dick and Craig Deerness finished seven up on Graeme Stevenson and Andy Stevenson up front while Craig Elliot and Paul Cunningham ended one up on Bill Buchan and Graham Lundie.
“It was a southerly wind out there today, which is strange for this course,” reported former Lothians champion Dick. “It was never helping and always felt it was hurting.
“But Craig and I were very solid, with our only blip being a half at the third following a four-putt due to the pin being in an awkward spot.”
The two most successful sides in the event’s recent history, Carrickvale and Silverknowes last met in the semi-finals two years ago.
“Silverknowes came out on top on that occasion so we are hoping for a better result tomorrow,” added Dick. “It is going to be a tough game, but we are looking forward to it.”
Silverknowes, who lost in the final to Hailes 12 months ago after picking up the trophy three times in the previous five years, beat Buckstone Golfing Society 5&4.
Iain Doig, back in the top Silverknowes side, joined forces with Tam Caldwell to finish four up on Gordon Shaw and Andrew Shaw in the top match while Keith Reilly and Craig Scott were one up at the back against Derek Hall and Ross Weir.
Helped by three birdies, Reilly and Scott were three up at the turn before their opponents won the 10th, 11th and 12th, two them with birdies, but edged ahead again by holing a 10-foot downhill putt at the 15th.
“It was good to get back out on the course again,” said Reilly of Silverknowes marking their first outing at the Braids since last year’s final defeat at the hands of Hailes with a victory.
It was a successful day all round for Carrickvale as their B side also progressed with a 6&5 victory over Kilgour Private Clients.
But Cramond, which is effectively Silverknowes’ second string, suffered a 5&3 defeat at the hands of Heriots Quad.
Harrison, bidding to lift the trophy for the first time since 2000, started out with a straightforward 8&6 success over Lochend A.
Dougie Waugh and Stuart More finished five up at the front in that one with Brian Byars and Allan Stewart sitting three up behind.
“It’s certainly been a while since we last got our hands on the trophy so we will be doing our best to rectify that this year,” said More.
He was happy to see some on the opening morning, adding: “That always tests the away teams up here.”
Harrison now meet Stevenson & Cheyne (1983) Ltd after they marked returning to the event with a 4&3 win against Harrison Golf Society.
Helped by winning the first three holes, their top couple of Liberton duo David Liddle and John Hunter finished seven up while Fraser Smith and Gregor Emmerson won the 15th, 16th and 17th to trim a six-hole deficit to three at the finish.
The Dispatch Trophy, of course, has a rich history of matches being turned around over the closing stretch and the 2016 event has already added to the long list.
Playing against 2003 winners Rhodes, Munro Heating stood two down over the double foursome after 16 holes before sneaking through by one hole.
David Ewen, a three-time winner with Carrickvale, holed a 25-foot putt for a hole-winning birdie-2 at the 17th before rolling in a five-footer at the last, where their opponents missed from three feet.
John Butler and Gary Scott then won the 18th at the back with a “solid 4” to earn Munro Heating a last-32 clash with Heriots Quad.
“It looked like a lost cause,” admitted Ewen, “but, as we all know, anything can happen over the closing holes here and often does!”
Munro Heating boss Clark Munro is also through to the second round with Kingston, who won 4&2 over Edinburgh Western B.
The top Kingston couple of Scott Dickson and Jack Chainey recovered from being two down at the turn to finish one up while Munro and Fraser Martin birdied the eighth and ninth as they ended three up at the back.
“With this win and also the one for Munro Heating, it’s certainly been a good day so I’m chuffed,” said a smiling Munro.
In contrast, Watsonians trio Andrew Hogg, Richard Craig and Andrew Weir were left down in the dumps after a no show from their fourth man, Tom Foster, led to them having to hand Barnton Hotel a walkover.
It meant a delayed debut in the event for Ben Alexander, who only arrived back into Edinburgh airport at 10pm on Friday night after playing in a MENA Tour event in Thailand.
Hailes set out on their title defence on Sunday after being among the 22 teams to receive a bye.
Harrison Golf Society (G Ackroyd and I Ashley 0; N Gordon and M Murray 3); Stevenson & Cheyne (1983) Ltd (D Liddle and J Hunter 7; F Smith and G Emmerson 0).
Stevenson & Cheyne (1983) Ltd won 4&3
Harrison (D Waugh and S More 5; B Byars and A Stewart 3); Lochend A (D Dalgleish and A Thomson 0; P Young and M Devine 0).
Harrison won 8&6
Rhodes (J McMoreland and G Burns 0; J Jack and C Greenhill 3); Munro Heating (D Ewan and M McAdam 4; J Butler and G Scott 0).
Munro Heating won by one hole
Cramond (J Keggie and K Alexander 0; I Randall and C Milligan 1); Heriots Quad (I Christie and I Smith 6; J Liddel and G Munro 0).
Heriots Quad won 5&3
Kilgour Private Clients (R Telfer and J Blurton 0; G Markey and P Hardie 0); Carrickvale B (J Cullerton and G Yorkston 6; J Pow and S Hermiston 0).
Carrickvale B won 6&5
Lochend B (D Harper and J Flynn 0; C Cheyne and G Wyllie 0); Kilgour Wealth Management (S Beck and M MacLeod 6; A Bradley and G Miller 1).
Kilgour Wealth Management won 7&6
Edinburgh Western B (R Taylor and J Cunningham 0; B Kennedy and A McClelland 0); Kingston (S Dickson and J Chainey 1; F Martin and C Munro 3).
Kingston won 7&6
Watsonians (A Hogg and R Craig 0; A Weir and T Foster 0); Barnton Hotel (R Noon and S Hunter 0; B Hunter and B Alexander 0).
Barnton Hotel won by a walkover
Silverknowes (T Caldwell and I Doig 4; C Scott and K Reilly 1); Buckston Golfing Society (G Shaw and A Shaw 0; D Hall and R Weir 0).
Silverknowes won 5&4
Carrickvale A (C Deerness and A Dick 7; C Elliot and P Cunningham 1); Bank of Scotland (G Stevenson and A Stevenson 0; B Buchan and G Lundie 0).
Carrickvale A won 8&7