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Braid

This club is famous for… nurturing the talents of James Braid

The legendary golfer and course designer learned his trade at Elie...
 

You may have heard of James Braid.

Not only did he win the Open Championship five times – as part of The Great Triumvirate along with Harry Vardon and JH Taylor – there’s a fair chance he also had a say in your course too.

Braid was a prolific designer and renovator in the British Isles, responsible for establishing or revamping more than 400 tracks.

St Enodoc, the King’s and Queen’s at Gleneagles and Porthmadog are just three examples of the enduring legacy he left when he died at the age of 80 in late 1950.

But where did it all begin for this titan of early 20th century golf?

The answer is found in one of the world’s most sought after golfing destinations. Fife.

It’s not St Andrews, though, where he cut his teeth. Instead it was 12 miles away and the wonderful links at Elie where Braid’s golfing odyssey began.

He was born in the next village, Earlsferry, and started hitting shots at an early age. He won his first local tournament over the links at only 8.

In an article in Golf Illustrated in 1905, Braid described himself as merely one oBraidf the “average” boys.

He explained: “At Earlsferry and Elie and all about there it is all golf, and everybody must play unless he wishes to be taken for a crank or as somebody with whom there is something constitutionally or mentally wrong.”

It was watching a match at Elie, and befriending then Open Champion Jamie Anderson, where Braid’s passion for the game really took hold.

“At all events, when we were walking side by side on the links, and he had seen me hit a ball or two, he told me very seriously that if I went in thoroughly for golf I should myself one day be the Open Champion. And I was only nine.”

Braid battled not only his game, he was an indifferent putter early on, but his parents to realise his ambitions.

In the event, he would have a massive impact on the game in a playing sense – between 1894 and 1914 he finished out of the Open top 10 only twice – and in his successful design career.

Did he ever leave a mark on his home course? The book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses does not list an Elie credit.

But Braid declared the 13th – a 380-yard par 4 known as Coupie – as his favourite, describing it as “the finest in all the country”.

Elie’s historic links terrain, golf has been played on the site since the 15th century, makes it highly regarded today and well worth a visit.

Click here for the full ‘This Club Is Famous For’ archive

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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