Born: February 6, 1870
Died: November 27, 1950
Birthplace: Earlsferry, Fife (Scotland)
Turned Pro: 1896
James Braid owned the first decade of golf in the twentieth century. In the ten Open Championships contested between 1901 and 1910, Braid won five of them. He finished runner up three other times that decade and his worst finish was a tie for 5th place.
Braid also was a dominant force at the British World Match Play, winning four times.
Braid began playing golf early in life, winning his first local tournament as an 8-year old. He also tinkered with club repair and club making. As a 23-year old, he moved to London and began working fulltime as a club maker.
Three years later, he decided to turn professional. A long driver of the golf ball, Braid’s Achilles heel was on the greens, where he struggled with his putting. Braid replaced his wooden-headed putter with an aluminum one and his fortunes began to improve.
Braid worked extensively as a golf course designer, working on over 200 courses during his career. Braid helped refurbish and redesign several storied Open Championship sites including Carnoustie and Royal Troon. Braid’s work was in high demand and he fielded many offers to design courses in the United States. Motion sickness and a fear of flying kept Braid from taking up the Americans on their offers. They also were the reason he never played in a single U.S. Open, the only other professional Major championship of the era.
Braid’s contributions to the game, both as a player and a course designer, earned him posthumous membership into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.
Braid passed away in London, England in 1950 at the age of 80.