James Braid



Born: Feb 6, 1870 (Earlsferry, Fife, Scotland) - Died: Nov 27, 1950

One of the Great Triumvirate alongside Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor, James Braid won the Open Championship five times in the first decade of the 20th century and would later become one of the finest course architects the game has ever known.

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland, he took up golf at an early age and played on the lovely links at Elie. A carpenter by trade, Braid turned his skilled hands to making and repairing clubs before leaving Scotland to begin club-making at a store in London. Seizing every spare moment to play the game he loved, he steadily improved and, when 26, accepted a job as the professional at Romford Golf Club on the outskirts of London.

He founded the Professional Golfers' Association and, in the midst of all his success, moved to Walton Heath, a new course to the south of London, where he remained the pro for more than 40 years until his death in 1950.

While at Walton Heath, Braid found time to both write about golf and design or improve more than 200 courses throughout the U.K. Some such as Gleneagles, Carnoustie, Southport and Ainsdale, Boat of Garten and St. Enodoc are rightly famous, while others such as Aberdovey, Berkhamsted, North Hants and Goodwood , although perhaps less well known, are still enjoyed and appreciated, particularly by those who admire Braid's thinking and approach.

He first articulated his philosophy in a book called "Advanced Golf," which was published in 1902. Two chapters are devoted to design and are quaintly entitled "The Planning of Course" and "The Character and Placing of Teeing Grounds, Bunkers and Putting Greens."

He wrote: "It is both necessary and desirable that the holes should be laid out as suggested by the lie of the land, every natural obstacle being taken care of. There should be a complete variety of holes ... not just length, but in their character ... the way in which they are bunkered ... the kind of shot that is required ... the kind of approach and so forth. The greens should be well guarded."

Now accepted as standard practice, Braid was the first to suggest that the shorter the hole, the smaller the green. "The bunkering and general planning should be carried out with the specific object of making it necessary not only to get a certain length, but more particularly to gain a desired position ... and the player who does not gain his position should have his next shot made more difficult."

He also advocated there should ideally be at least two alternative ways of playing a hole, an easy and more difficult way. "And there should be a chance of gaining a stroke when the latter is chosen." Although more or less universally accepted today, these were fairly radical ideas at the time.


Average Overall Rating

4.3 stars from 5

based on 1271 reviews.

4-5 stars:
59.3%
3-4 stars:
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2-3 stars:
0.7%
1-2 stars:
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n/a:
30.9%
Avg. Course Layout: 4.3 stars from 5
Avg. Off-Course Amenities: 4.1 stars from 5
Avg. Value for the Money: 4.4 stars from 5
Avg. Pace of Play: 4.4 stars from 5
Avg. Staff Friendliness: 4.5 stars from 5
Avg. Course Conditions: 4.2 stars from 5

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