James Braid was born in 1870 in Earlsferry, which is the adjoining village to Elie, and he is arguably its most famous son.
Certainly in the field of golf, no-one from the local community could hold a candle to him and during his career he won the Open Championship five times. His victories came in 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1910.
Braid took up the game as a young child and won his first local tournament over the Elie links at the age of 8. In the ensuing years his game developed dramatically, along with an interest in club making, and in 1893 he took up a position as a club maker in London.
Braid then turned professional in 1896, although prior to the turn of the century his excellent long game was hampered by inconsistent putting.
He switched from a wooden-headed model to an aluminum-headed putter in 1900 and as his putting improved so too did his fortunes. In 1901, he won his first Open Championship going on to win a total of five in all.
Braid also won the British Professional Match Play four times and the French Open once. He retired from competitive golf in 1912, joining Walton Heath as its club professional, where he remained until his death.
Braid’s great passion after his retirement was course design, and although he learned his golf over the links course at Elie, it is not actually a course he himself designed or re-modelled.
However, it is estimated that his influence was felt by more than 200 courses around Great Britain and examples of his work include Carnoustie, Troon, Prestwick and Ballybunion.
Braid was a founding member of the British PGA and wrote an instructional book entitled “Advanced Golf.”