Play the designs set out by one of golf’s greatest pioneers and players
Regarded as one of the greatest golf course architects of all time, James Braid’s legacy is experienced by golfers week in week out as they play over his designs.
A great golfer in his own right, Braid was a member of the Great Triumvirate alongside Harry Vardon and JH Taylor and won the Open five times.
Braid was a gifted designer of golf courses, designing over 200 in Great Britain and Ireland alone. Here, we take a look at some of his great designs that can be played in Scotland.
Starting at one of the most northerly clubs in the country, Braid designed the course at Brora in 1923 and golfers can now enjoy a fantastic links layout that takes into account the mixture of bent grass and beach sand, burn water, and gorse. Situated over an hour north of Inverness, it is also home to the James Braid Golfing Society, which boasts Peter Thomson as its president.
Moving towards Inverness, the design at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club offers an extremely attractive setting to play golf in and is always admired by first-time visitors. Designed in 1888 by Braid, it is by no means a long course, measuring 6,085 yards, but its small, deceptive greens and strategically-placed bunkers make it a challenge for players of all levels. Playing to your handicap here is no mean feat, especially if you catch it on a windy day.
Boat of Garten Golf Club is another course designed by the great man that is renowned as a demanding test of sporting skill as well as a magnificent setting for the game. Offering 18 completely individual hole designs, its fairways are shaped by birch trees, heather and broom, and it all comes together in a stunning environment.
Into Perthshire, Blairgowrie Golf Club’s Rosemount course was created by Braid with influences from Dr Alistair MacKenzie, the renowned co-architect of Augusta National (he designed it alongside Bobby Jones). Despite now being the shorter of the two courses at the club, it has played host to a number of prestigious professional and amateur tournaments over the years, boasting more forgiving fairways and larger, more undulating greens than the Lansdowne design.
An hour’s drive west and you’ll encounter Taymouth Castle Golf Club. Established in 1925, Braid’s layout sits in the grounds of Taymouth Castle near Kenmore in the heart of Perthshire.
Scotscraig Golf Club is located just 15 minutes from St Andrews and is the 13th oldest golf club in the world. Redesigned in 1923 with the assistance of Braid, the course still retains many of his traditional architectural features, namely large rolling greens and well positioned bunkers, and offers a fair but serious challenge to all golfers.
Further south and onto the shores of the Firth of Forth, Lundin Links was founded in 1868 and is regarded as one of Scotland’s gems. Initially designed by Tom Morris, it was extensively redesigned by Braid in 1909 and features fine links fairways and excellent greens. It has been used as a final qualifying course for the Open in the past, with its narrow fairways, bunkers, burns, and ever-changing winds guaranteeing your game will be tested.
From the east to the west, Golf South Ayrshire runs three courses designed by Braid, including Belleisle, Seafield and Girvan. Braid designed the course at Belleisle in 1927 and it is arguably one of Scotland’s finest munis. With long, beech tree-lined fairways, it combines natural landscape features with spectacular views over to the Isle of Arran. Seafield, meanwhile, also sits in the Belleisle Estate in Ayr and was laid out by Braid. Featuring deceptively testing greens and strategically placed bunkers, it offers an attractive, challenging game of golf. Braid’s design at Girvan has had few alterations since it was first opened in 1902, with the first eight holes being pure Scottish links and the remaining ten holes being parkland, meaning it offers a varied challenge.
It is only fitting that we finish our journey at the last course Braid designed, at Stranraer. Affording exceptional views over to Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Arran and beyond, it’s a parkland layout with several holes played along the loch shore. The signature hole in the 397-yard par-4 fifth that is played from an elevated tee out towards the Irish Sea. Your tee shot must find a tight fairway between a heavily gorsed bank on the left and out of bounds along the shoreline to the right if you are to have any chance of carding a par.