James Braid born in Fife on February 6th 1870 and died at Walton Heath on 27th November 1950.
Together with Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor he formed the Great Triumvirate, which dominated the game for twenty years before the 1914-18 war. In a ten year period he became the first player in the history of the event to win The Open five times. He also finished second on three occasions.
He was professional at Romford when he won the first of his five Open championships at Muirfield in 1901.He also won in ’05, ’06, ’08 and’10, while playing out of Walton Heath. He was the last European to defend the title until Padraig Harrington repeated the feat in 2008. Among his fifteen tournament victories was the News of the World match play four times and the French Open. He was a tall powerful player who hit the ball hard but always retained an appearance of outward calm. Braid was professional at Walton Heath golf club for 45 years.
He was one of the founder members of the Professional Golfers Association and did much to elevate the status of his fellow professionals. He was also an honorary member of the R & A.
After a very successful playing career, Braid became one of the most prolific course designers of all time, being involved with over 250 courses, (including one in New York, which he designed from pictures of the terrain as he was averse to sailing).
Braid, one of the foremost course designers of the time, who was credited with being the inventor of the dog leg, was invited by our club committee to look at a property in Belvedere with a view to designing and building a golf course. After a quick scan of the property, Mr Braid asked for a map of the field and some stakes and pegs – the stakes for the greens and the pegs for the tees. He told the committee members to meet him later that evening and when they returned they were shown the skeleton outline of the course. Braid returned some time later to inspect the outcome of his planning and admitted that he regarded Mullingar as one of the best jobs he had ever done.
On a plaque to his memory in his home village, Elie, Fife was written,
“..he had many opponents but no enemies – We salute his memory…”