James Braid lived from 6 February 1870 to 27 November 1950. He was a professional golfer and a golf course designer. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
James Braid was born in Earlsferry in Fife and learned to play golf at a very early age. He is said to have won his first tournament in Fife at the age of 8. The most usual way to convert an interest in golf into a career at the time was via club making, and Braid seems to have become a club maker after leaving school. In 1893 he gained a position with a firm of golf club makers in London, and moved south.
Braid became a professional golfer in 1896. In 1901 he was a founder member of the Professional Golfers' Association. As a player he initially suffered problems with his putting but a move to an aluminium headed putter from a wooden one in 1900 made all the difference. He went on to win the Open Championship in 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1910 (and was runner up in 1897 and 1909). He also won the PGA Matchplay Championship in 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1911, and the French Open in 1910. His successful defence of his Open Championship in 1906 was the last time this feat was achieved by a European golfer until Pádraig Harrington's win in 2008. Braid is often regarded as one of the "Great Triumvirate" of early 20th Century British golfers alongside Harry Vardon and John Henry Taylor.
In 1912, Braid retired from tournament golf and became a club professional at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey. He also became a leading golf course designer, building or remodelling up to 200 courses around the UK. Something approaching 40 of these are in Scotland, including courses at Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Boat of Garten, Brora, Golspie, Dalmahoy, Prestwick and Troon. He is often said to have invented the dogleg hole, and his designs influenced many other course designers. Braid never travelled to the USA because of an aversion to sailing. He died in 1950 at the age of 80.