Born Earlsferry, Fife (1870 to 1950). The figures above show just how dominant Braid was in his peak years from 1901 to 1912. By 1901 Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor had each won the Open three times yet it was Braid who became the first of them to win the championship five times. During that golden spell he was also runner-up twice and never worse than sixth. He won the French Open in 1910 and, an excellent matchplayer, he took the PGA Matchplay Championship in 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1911. Even when he was 57 he managed to reach the final, losing to Archie Compston.
Braid was a long hitter, one who suddenly found much increased distance overnight. He was described as hitting ‘with divine fury’ and if he was sometimes erratic he was also blessed with tremendous powers of recovery, particularly from bunkers. Early in his career, his putting was suspect when he used a cleek. It was transformed when he took to a Mills aluminium-headed club which was successfully marketed in later years as the Braid-Mills.
He became professional at Romford in 1896 and in 1904 moved to newly opened Walton Heath where he remained for the rest of his life. He was also in great demand as a golf architect and designed or reshaped hundreds of courses, mainly in England and Scotland, including the King’s and Queen’s courses at Gleneagle. Braid, was also responsible for the reshaping of the bunkers on the 4th and 10th holes at Prestwick for the 1908 Open Championship, which he went on the win.
Open Champions at Prestwick
Extract taken from “British Open Champions” by Michael Hobbs 1991.