The top golfers from Kirkcaldy will compete for the town’s very own ‘Ryder Cup’ this weekend.
The Millennium Cup was established in 2000 as a biennial competition between Dunnikier Park and Kirkcaldy golf clubs, who take turns to host every two years.
A friendly rivalry, but fiercely contested, the tournament exactly mirrors the Ryder Cup format with two teams of 12 competing for points across 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.
Kirkcaldy are the current holders having claimed a convincing win on home soil in 2016, while the Balwearie club also narrowly lead the overall series 5-4.
As hosts this year, Dunnikier team captain Barry Logan is focused on reclaiming the trophy, and levelling the series against his former club.
“For us, it’s bigger than the Ryder Cup!” he told the Press. “It means that much.
“On a personal level, as team captain this year, I probably want to win it more than I ever have,
“Having been a member down at Balwearie for a great number of years, and experienced winning and losing on both sides, I know what it means to both clubs.
“After the elation of four years ago when we won relatively easy up here, getting beat quite significantly down at Balwearie two years ago was a reality check that we needed to do things differently again.
“We had to get back to basics, have more structure and organisation and I think this year we’ve demonstrated that.
“The team has pretty much picked itself. Our top 12 guys have been playing steady golf throughout the season, as well as enjoying some success in the summer league.
“Handicap-wise it’s probably the lowest Dunnikier has had in the time I’ve known it.
“There’s also a great wealth of of experience which is going to help because, apart from one or two rookies, most of the guys have played in this competition before, so they know what to expect.
“Personally and collectively for every Dunnikier representative it means a lot to win this back again.”
Only twice since the tournament’s inception has the Millennium Cup been won away from home, but that is the challenge facing Kirkcaldy club captain Kenny Kelly and his team this weekend.
“Last time we were up there we got an absolute shoeing,” Kenny explained.
“They’ve always had a good standard of golfer up there and trying to beat them on their home course is so difficult.
“We’ve all played the course many times so we know what’s in store for us, but nothing beats playing week in, week out, and knowing where to miss in the right places.
“A few of us will have to learn that pretty quickly if we are going to compete, but we’ve got to be confident going up there that we can get a result.
“We have five rookies in the team this year, which is a lot, but we’ve had some really good young players come through, and some elder statesmen have made it too.
“It’s a right good mix, and we’re all looking forward to it.”
The Ryder Cup format gives the competition an added touch of glamour, with spectators often lining the course cheering on their respective club mates.
“This is as close as we’ll ever get to playing in a Ryder Cup,” Kenny added. “We get a little bit of what it’s like to be part of that format.
“I’ve been very fortunate to played in some really big personal games when it’s just you.
“But it doesn’t come close to placing a tee on the first hole when you’re representing your golf club and 11 other team mates.
“That’s real pressure because you don’t want to let anyone down. There’s no hiding place in this competition at all.
“The standard in both teams is so high that if you’re off, then you’re beat.
“It’s the 12 best golfers at each club and that’s the way it should be.”
The competition begins with fourballs on Friday night, followed by foursomes on Saturday morning, then the singles on Saturday afternoon, concluding with the dinner and presentation in the Dunnikier Park clubhouse on Saturday night.
DUNNIKIER PARK: Barry Logan (c), Ross McDonald, Liam Duncan, Graham Ballantyne, Colin Steffen, Steven Mackie, Derek Paton, Craig Urquhart, Greig Peden, Russell Selkirk, Andy Kelly, Mike Westwater. Reserve: Liall Robertson.
KIRKCALDY: Kevin Blyth (c), Kenny Kelly, Ryan Walsh, Andy Gove, Brian Glancy, David Watson, Graham Birnie, Tom Steel, Grant Heeles, Mike Ewan, Liam Allan, Robbie McEwan. Reserve: David Forbes.