THE James Braid Trail has been launched by Tourism Partnership North Wales and will feature 10 courses across the region, from Wrexham in the east to Aberdovey in the west, all designed by the Open Championship-winning Scot.
It will be the first Braid Trail to be inaugurated outside Scotland and is the brainchild of well-known North Wales golfing figures Ginny James, from Llandudno, and Mike Bryant, from Bangor.
The Trail was launched at the annual Golf North Wales Forum held by Tourism Partnership just down the road from one of Braid’s designs, Maesdu Golf Club at Llandudno.
Braid, who died aged 80 in 1950, won five Open Championships in ten years between 1901 and 1910 and was part of golf’s Great Triumverate with Harry Vardon and JH Taylor who between them won 16 Opens.
He was later based at Walton Heath in Surrey and carved out a very successful golf course design career which saw him lay out over 250 golf courses around the British Isles.
These include Open Championship venue Carnoustie as well as such great names as Gleneagles and Rosemount in Scotland and Formby, Ganton and Southport & Ainsdale in England.
Ginny James, a member of Maesdu, one of the Braid-designed clubs, said: “We wanted to develop a trail to encourage golfers to try the courses right across North Wales and with ten courses designed by James Braid this seemed the ideal theme.
“There are six Braid Trails in Scotland but none anywhere else so this is a first and it is a tick list for golfers who enjoy the classic challenges of a James Braid course.
“He was a bit of a character. Virtually all his courses are in the UK because he hated travelling and suffered badly from sea-sickness.
“They are nearly all near railway lines because that’s how he got about and he was ahead of his time because he designed the courses using topographical maps and only actually visited the course to oversee the work.
“His courses are distinctive with great use of natural features like gorse and rocky outcrops and the greens are often sloping and well-guarded by bunkers while the par-threes would always play in different directions so that the wind would never be the same.”
The 10 North Wales James Braid Course are Aberdovey, Maesdu, Porthmadog, Bangor St Deiniol, Wrexham, Nefyn, Holyhead, Rhyl and Old Colwyn.
Roger Lewis, Tourism Partnership North Wales’s Regional Golf Co-ordinator, said: “I’m delighted that the idea of a golf trail has taken off and that it includes less well-known but still fine courses.
“I have played Braid courses for many years and they are very distinctive and very different and there are golf societies all around the world dedicated to playing his courses.
“What you’re getting with a James Braid course is a rubber-stamp of excellence because it’s a guarantee that there’s a bit of golfing magic there.
“It’s a wonderful idea and something we’ll be delighted to support.”
Carole Startin, Tourism Partnership’s Marketing and Events Executive, said the James Braid Trail was featured in the new Golf North Wales brochure and on the website www.golf-northwales.co.uk