James Braid: More Than Just a Golfer

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Most, if not all golfers recognise the name of James Braid. After all, Braid is perhaps one of the pioneers of the game we know today. However, Braid was more than just an excellent golfer of his time; he was also a supreme golf course architect and across the UK, there are some 200 golf courses which bear the Braid hallmark – either by design or redesign.

Braid was born in the Fife coastal town of Earlsferry on February 6th 1870 and despite his parents having no interest in the game, he began playing golf from around age four. Using golf clubs he had reconditioned, Braid learned his trade on the Elie links course and in his youth trained as a carpenter and joiner before later working as a clubmaker. He enjoyed some success as an amateur before turning professional in 1896.

Braid had a reputation for being an excellent striker of the ball between tee and green, but it was on the putting surface where Braid exhibited a weakness in his game. Occasionally blighted by putting problems, most likely caused by the old wooden putter he used, Braid switched to a metal-headed putter in 1900 and transformed his game. He went on to become a five-time British Open champion, as well as winning other tournaments around the UK.

Braid, along with Sir Harry Vardon and John Henry Taylor formed the ‘Great Triumvirate’ and together dominated the game in the early 20th Century until the outbreak of the the First World War and between the three of them, they won the British Open on 16 separate occasions; Braid’s back-to-back victories in 1905 and 1906 being the last such feat until Ireland’s Padraig Harrinton mirrored the feat with back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008.

He retired from competitive golf in 1912 and took up a position at Walton Heath, Surrey as club professional where he remained until his death in 1950.

Braid is also well known as a golf course architect and many courses in the UK – both famous and not so famous – have been touched by his designwork. Some have been designed in their entirety while others have had modifications to holes, while Braid is also credited as having invented the ‘dogleg’ hole.

Nowadays, James Braid has his own golfing society – the James Braid Golfing Society – and as one of golf’s greatest names, James Braid has left an indelible mark on the game both in his own playing career and also in the art of golf course design and architecture, and golfers can now take a short golfing break and sample some of the great man’s handiwork on specialised http://www.yourgolftravel.com/braid-tours.html James Braid golf tours, available around the country.

A keen golfer and writer, Brian Healy writes this article for Your Golf Travel (www.yourgolftravel.com), a UK operator of http://www.yourgolftravel.com golf breaks within the UK and around the world. Learn more about http://www.yourgolftravel.com/braid-tours.html James Braid golf tours here.

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