Kirkistown Castle Golf Club is extremely proud of its rich history, and please excuse the pun, its links to the past! James Braid has been a formidable figure in his own right as well as having put his indelible stamp on our Course back in 1934, golfers to this day enjoy the Course as he designed it. Indeed, speaking recently to one of our oldest Members, Mr Tony Croley, he as a boy, remembers Mr Braid walking the Course and plotting the location of bunkers with a few sticks. Here is a little insight into the career of Mr James Braid...
James Braid (6 February 1870 – 27 November 1950) was a Scottish professional golfer and a member of the Great Triumvirate of the sport alongside Harry Vardon and John Henry Taylor. He won The Open Championship five times. He won The open Championship five times and was a renowned golf course architect.
Braid was born in Earlsferry, Fife, Scotland and played golf from an early age, working as a clubmaker before turning professional in 1896. Initially his game was hindered by problems with his putting, but he overcame this after switching to an aluminium putter in 1900. He won The Open Championship in 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1910. In addition, Braid won four British PGA Matchplay Championships (1903, 1905, 1907 and 1911), as well as the 1910 French Open title. He was also runner-up in The Open Championship in 1897 and 1909. His 1906 victory in The Open Championship was the last successful defence of the title by a European until Pádraig Harrington replicated the feat in 2008.
In 1912, Braid scaled back his tournament golf, and became a club professional at Walton Heath. He developed a very successful career in golf course design, and is sometimes regarded as the "inventor" of the dogleg, although holes of similar design had been known for centuries (for example, the Road Hole at the Old Course at St Andrews). Among his designs are the "King's Course" and the "Queen's Course" at Gleneagles, and the 1926 remodelling of The Open Championship venue Carnoustie Golf Links.
Stranraer Golf Club's course was the final one that was designed by Braid in the year that he died, 1950. He was called out of retirement to plan Creachmore, which was to be his last commission. Braid never lived to see the course completed. He died in London on 27 November 1950.
The current Kirkistown Castle course layout was designed by Braid in 1934 and with its picturesque setting Braid was known to have said that he wished to take KCGC home with him. Braid’s legacy lives on today with our current Course Manager, Mr Paul Lappin, ensuring that the course is nurtured and look after as a ‘true links’ should be.