James Braid (6 February 1870 – 27 November 1950)
James Braid the five-time Open Champion made more visits to Ireland after his retirement in 1912 as a course designer as he ever did as a professional golfer. In the early 1900s it is believed he travelled to Rosapenna to suggest alterations to lengthen the course and improve the bunkering. In 1910 he was due to return with Tom Ball, Harry Vardon, George Duncan but pulled out of the exhibition match perhaps due to a fear of travelling by sea and was replaced by Sandy Herd.
1902: The professional tournament held on 20-22 May 1902 at Greenore organised by the Railway company which attracted Vardon, Taylor, Braid, Taylor and White. Braid won the tournament beating Vardon en-route.
1903: Played at Portmarnock Golf Club at the Lord Lieutenant’s Golfing Party in Easter 1903 where he finished in first ahead of luminaries like Vardon, Herd, Taylor, Aucterlonie, Massey and Sayers.
1907: Braid played an exhibition match against Harry Vardon on 23 May 1907 to commemorate the opening of Malone’s new eighteen holes. During the practice round Braid shot a 71 to beat Harry Kidd’s course record 72.
1928: Arrived at the Grange Golf Club in January 1928 to redesign the golf course for a fee of 35 guineas which had to be paid upfront before he would make the journey. During his stay he resided at Marlay Grange as a guest of R.K. Love.
1928: Howth Golf Club offered Braid the contract for laying out their new course, after a further 42 acres were acquired by June of this year, at a cost of 28 guineas plus living expenses and together with Stutt, the Paisley based contractors, they set about building their new course.
1933/34: Braid laid out the extended eighteen-hole course at Waterford Golf Club.
1934: Braid was engaged to plan and layout the new course at Bangor Golf Club at a cost of c.£21 plus travelling expenses. As always Braid visited the course for a single day, 19 February 1934, and drew up him recommendations on the journey home and was assisted by John R. Stutt Ltd. a Scottish based contracting firm which would put his plans in effect.
1934: Braid was engaged by Kirkistown Castle on 26 September 1934 to suggest alterations to the course and spent the day placing tees, greens and suggesting alternative positions and shapes for bunkers.
On seeing the location of the course for the first time he was heard to exclaim “If only I had this within 50 miles of London”.
1934: In late 1934 Braid made suggestions for improvements at the Dundalk Golf Club all of which were being carried out in their entirety and likely to effect all holes on the course.
1935: Arrived to layout the Mullingar golf course on 5 June 1935 at their tract of land in Belvedere and with 18 pegs and 18 stakes he laid out the course in a single day. His fee was £21 and travelling expenses.
1937: Braid returned to complete an eighteen-hole course at Howth Golf Club. <Click here>
1938: Arrived at Tullamore Golf Club on 3 August 1938: to make suggestions as to how their course might be improved. All his suggestions were accepted.
Course Designs: Rosapenna, Mullingar, Tullamore, Kirkistown Castle, Bangor, Dundalk, Grange, Howth, Waterford, Newlands.
Braid’s other connection with Ireland were rumours of a legal action against him by Thomas Hood, the Royal Dublin professional, who had designed a high quality club which he allowed Braid to use for demonstration purposes but Hood claimed copies were made and sold which infringed his copyright. What kind of club or what was the ultimate outcome remains a mystery.
Brian Treston and Michael Forde: Golf in the Foothills – A History of Grange Golf Club
Jeremy Stanley and Paul Campbell: Bangor Golf Club – One Hundred Years
John Hanna: Malone Golf Club 1895-1995