Why this should be the year you play a course designed by one of Scotland’s most influential golfers
By Chris Doyle
With five wins, James Braid has more Open Championship victories to his name than any other Scottish golfer. Indeed, in the almost 160-year history of the event, only Harry Vardon has tasted success more often.
So, it’s a mark of his talent for golf course architecture that he is regarded as fondly for the courses he designed as the quintet of Opens that he won.
The Earlsferry-born Braid lent his hand to some 200 courses across the UK, creating some of the most beloved layouts in the process, such as the King’s and Queen’s Courses at Gleneagles.
So, what better theme around which to build a golf break that the courses designed by him? Let’s take a closer look at some of the gems he crafted.
Celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2017, Mortonhall Golf Club is the oldest course in Edinburgh. A superb championship test, measuring 6,520 yards, it offers great views over the capital city and towards the Firth of Forth. It is, quite simply, not to be missed.
Elsewhere in Edinburgh, Braid’s fellow Open champion Alec Herd collaborated with him on the design of Kingsknowe. The challenging set-up requires a tactical approach, with its well-guarded and tricky greens that you will need to be wary of.
Edzell Golf Club can be found at the gateway to the Angus Glens in the foothills of the Grampian Mountains. Originally designed by Bob Simpson in 1895, it underwent a significant redesign in the early 1930s under the auspices of Braid. It was sympathetically upgraded by Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert just a few years ago and is a fine test for golfers of all standards. There is also a nine-hole course (not designed by Braid) for those who are not quite ready to step up to the challenge of a full 18 holes.
Cathkin Braes, just five miles from the centre of Glasgow, is another course to have benefited from the touch of Braid. Sitting more than 650 feet above sea level, it is widely regarded as one of the best inland courses in the west of Scotland.
Likewise, Cowglen, also in Glasgow, is well worth checking out. Home to what are widely regarded as some of the best greens in the area, it is a superb course for players of all standards Stranraer Golf Club has the distinction of being home to the last course designed by Braid – and, in the eyes of many, he saved his best for last. Its superb fifth hole is widely considered to be one of the finest holes in the country.
Elderslie Golf Club provides a fair challenge to all golfers, as well as stunning views towards the Kilpatrick Hills and Ben Lomond
Venturing north towards the Highlands, why not embark on the James Braid Highland Golf Trail?
Created to ‘enhance the experience of golfers wishing to visit a wonderfully picturesque part of Scotland whilst benefiting from the enjoyment and challenge of playing over our Braid designed golf courses’, the trail can help you arrange tee times at some of the legendary architect’s most famous Highland courses and also offers a selection of suggested itineraries.
One of the courses it incorporates is Boat of Garten. Situated ten minutes from Aviemore, it is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s finest ‘hidden gems’.
Likewise, Inverness Golf Club, where PGA Tour winner Russell Knox learned his trade, is worth a visit, as is Muir of Ord, which benefited from Braid’s craftsmanship in the 1920s. The views it offers towards Ben Wyvis are truly stunning.
With so many great options to choose from, make 2017 you get to know Braid better.