James Braid, Scotsman and five-time Open Championship winner between 1901 and 1910, has left an enormous legacy for golf in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Braid courses range from prestigious tournament venues such as Carnoustie and Gleneagles to lesser known clubs in areas that one would not initially deem to be havens of high quality golf, but that is part of the charm of the Braid collection, and why so many golfers strive to experience every one.
Strewn across coastal links, inland park and heathland alike, the Braid courses are brought together by a common set of characteristics – high quality, very interesting and, most of all, challenging within their own limits. They therefore represent a good portion of the UK and Ireland’s best golf opportunities.
Braid was born in Earlsferry, just outside Elie in Fife in 1870. He played golf at Elie from a young age and won his first tournament at the age of eight !
He worked as a clubmaker before turning pro in 1896. He had problems at the start of his pro career with his putting, but after switching to an aluminium putter in 1900, he became a many times winner. He was one of a famous early 1900’s triumvirate, with himself, Harry Vardon and John Henry Taylor dominating golf for many years up to the First World War.
Braid was founder and President of the PGA – The Professional Golfers Association.
He won his first Open at Muirfield in 1901. Then at St. Andrews in 1905, Muirfield again in 1906, Prestwick in 1908, and finally at St. Andrews in 1910.
He also won the British PGA Matchplay Championship four times – in 1903, 1905, 1907, and 1911.
Quite a record – and look at the courses he won on – true classic Scottish Links. His achievement of retaining The Open claret jug in 1906 remained as a unique tribute to his skills for 102 years until Padraig Harrington repeated it in 2008.
He became professional at Walton Heath in 1912 after cutting back on his tournament golf, and concentrating on golf course design and architecture.
He also had a fine moustache throughout his adult life!
James Braid died in London in 1950 aged 80, having left an indelible mark on golf. He designed, remodelled and advised on well over 200 courses. Some people claim he invented the dogleg hole – still causing problems a hundred years later. He definitely did design the pot bunker shape – another problem for some people.
Why not play the James Braid Trail?
The James Braid Trail is the collection of all Braid related courses. Here’s what to do –
Pick whether you want prestigious names (with appropriate prices - marked **) or find the hidden gems and get a great game for not a lot of money (marked *).
Pick your area, and then off you go to your first 1st tee.
Perthshire Braid Trail
– all within easy travel from your base at Dunblane.
Dunblane New GC*, Dunblane – opened in 1926
SchawPark GC*, Alloa – redesigned in the 1930’s (25 mins by car)
Ferntower GC*, Crieff – re-designed in the 1930’s (30 mins by car)
Taymouth Castle GC*, Kenmore – opened in 1925 (1 hour by car)
Kings Course**, Gleneagles – opened 1919 (15 mins by car)
Queens Course**, Gleneagles – opened 1917 (15 mins by car)
Angus Braid Trail
– slightly further away although Dundee, Blairgowrie and Alyth are about an hour’s drive
Alyth GC*, Alyth - re-designed 1934 (1 hour by car)
Rosemount GC**, Blairgowrie – re-designed 1930 (1 hour by car)
Downfield GC**, Dundee – re-designed 1932 (1 hour by car)
Carnoustie GC**, Carnoustie – re-modelled for the Open of 1926 (1¼ hours by car)
Forfar GC*, Forfar - re-designed 1926 (1½ hours by car)
Edzell GC*, Edzell - re-designed 1934 (1¾ hours by car)
For full information on the other courses, go to each course website, or to the Braid Golfing Society web site www.thebraidsociety.com which has other James Braid related information. Information on other James Braid Trail areas is available via Google.