Golf course architect James Braid, who designed Wivenhoe House’s partner golf course at Colchester Golf Club, is one of Scotland’s most famous golfing sons, but has more in common with Essex than you might think.
One of the Great Triumvirate, including JH Taylor and Harry Vardon, Braid won the Open five times, a record equalled by the legendary Tom Watson, and only beaten by Harry Vardon. Braid’s 1906 win at Muirfield earned him £50 – the 2017 winner at Royal Birkdale will take home £1,175,000.
Born in Fife in 1870, his pursuit of golfing glory and his talent as a carpenter, led him to a job at the Army and Navy department store in London where he made golf clubs. He was then recruited by Romford Golf Club in South Essex in 1896 as their Professional where he stayed until 1903.
His vast experience of tournament play and his keen eye and understanding of design and construction set the standard for golf club design. He is credited with inventing the dogleg, which might not win him favour in some golfers’ eyes!
He designed Colchester’s course in 1907 and also worked on Boyce Hill, Benfleet, Theydon Bois at Epping, Clacton-on-Sea Golf Club and The Rochford Hundred, near Southend-on-Sea. They are all very different courses in varied settings within the county of Essex, showing his consummate skill as a course designer.
All is all he was involved with the design of around 400 courses, only one of which is the United States, which he did by remote as he had an intense dislike of travel. One has to wonder if he would have featured on the list of the best golfers of all time, if he had been happy to voyage around the golfing globe.