The top golfers in Kirkcaldy will compete for the town’s very own ‘Ryder Cup’ this weekend ahead of the real thing taking place at Gleneagles next month.
The Millenium Cup was established in 2000 as a biennial competition between Dunnikier Park and Kirkcaldy golf clubs.
The tournament exactly mirrors the Ryder Cup format with two teams of 12 competing for points across various foursomes, fourballs and singles matches.
It has become the town’s biggest golf event, with the lowest handicappers from both clubs desperately competing for qualification points throughout the season.
Stuart Ward, Dunnikier Park’s match secretary, explained: “The Millennium Cup gives the scratch golfers a bit of focus at the start of season as they know they have to earn points to qualify for the team.
“It’s quite a prestigious thing to get into the team and they are all chasing their points on a weekly basis looking to see where they are standing in table to make sure they qualify.
“It envigorites the scratch players and gives them something to play for besides the club championship.”
Dunnikier Park are the current holders and will host this year’s Millennium Cup having won the trophy away from home in 2012.
It has been contested seven times, and Kirkcaldy currently lead the series 4-3.
Mike Ewan, Kirkcaldy’s match secretary, was one of the individuals who helped set-up the competition 14 years ago.
“It was established to give the low handicap boys at the two golf clubs an opportunity to get together in a real competitive, albeit friendly format,” he explained.
“We’ve played Dunnikier for years in the Lang Toun Trophy - which was always a scratch tournament but has now reverted to handicap to give some wider membership an opportunity to play in that.
“The Millennium Cup is basically to get all the low boys in the club together, and up until this year it was three days of competitive golf, and exactly mirrored the Ryder Cup.
“But in doing that the presentation and dinner on the Sunday evening was a bit flat because people were working on the Monday.
“The clubs got together after the last event in 2012 and decided to tweak it a little bit to make the social side of it as much fun as the golf side.
“Now we’ll play the fourballs on Friday night, foursomes on Saturday morning, then the singles on Saturday afternoon, followed by the dinner and presentation on Saturday night.
“That will envigorate the social side of it, but it will still be as competitive as ever, and hopefully played in a good spirit as it’s always has been.”
Mike offered a prime example of the level of commitment it takes for players to make the Millennium Cup team.
“One of our golfers, Kenny Kelly, has never played in it before, but after watching the event a couple of years ago decided to focus on trying to qualify this year,” he said.
“He put his name down for every competition and worked hard on his game.
“Not only did this result in him qualifying for the Millennium Cup team, he also became our club champion this year.
“He’s transformed his game, and now he’s down to one handicap. That’s the sort of commitment guys have to put into it.”
While Kirkcaldy are keen to reclaim the trophy this weekend after losing on home turf two years ago, the big motivation for Dunnikier Park is to level the series at 4-4.
“The guys are certainly speaking about that,” Stuart explained.
“We’re at home, and a lot of our guys are noticing the benefits of the improvements that have been made in the golf course.
“Our club champion, Ross McDonald, has come into a bit of form and is going be one of our key men this year.
“A team from Dunnikier finished runners-up in the Fifeshire Advertiser at Balbirnie Park on Sunday and Ross shot the lowest scratch score of the day.
“We’re looking to level series although I’m sure Kirkcaldy will do their best to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Mike is confident, however, that Kirkcaldy have the team in place to give the hosts a run for their money.
“The Dunnikier team is formidable, especially on their home patch, but I’d like to think we’ve got a good team coming up as well,” he said.
“We’ll certainly have a go at them and I think it will be close. It generally always comes down to one or two matches.
“Whatever the result I hope it’s fun and competitive, and we get a few spectators along to watch as we have in past.”
Graham Ballantyne, Alan Brown, Archie Burton, Scott Campbell, Barry Logan, Ross McDonald, Paul Meikle, Greig Peden, Martin Selkirk, Colin Steffen, Craig Urquhart, Mike Westwater
Kenny Kelly, Barry Watson, Kevin Blyth, Mike Ewan, Geoff Marshall, Greg Suttie, Ryan Walsh, Brian Glancy, Clark Calley, Andy Gove, Andy Pillans, Kevin Lowey.