DURING its journey to modern times the Club has both endured and enjoyed many turning points of note and one such occurred in 1928. The Club’s landlords were the Pheonix Insurance Company with who the Club had enjoyed an amicable relationship. There was a view held by many of the prominent members of the Club however that the Club was not benefitting as it should do from the many improvements it was making to the course. This manifested itself in a reluctance to finance further developments on the links. It was clear from the recent alterations to the Club’s constitution that there was a drive to make the Club more stable financially and to have total control over the links. The purchase of the links from the landlords was seen as the essential next move to achieve the aim. However, the move placed the President, Mr Hyde, in an uncomfortable position in that he held, in addition to his Club office, a position within Dickinson, Cruickshank and Co. who were legal representatives of the landlords. There was no doubt the Club was once again to benefit from a member of the Club being associated with its landlord. Although Mr Hyde was keen to sever his close connection with the Club for obvious reasons, the meeting’s feeling that he remain as President overcame his determination to resign, eloquently accepting his re-election - ‘he was very obliged for the kind words which had fallen from their lips. The only fly in the ointment was that he had been present’. As far as the purchase of the Links was concerned the idea had to be sold to the members and many persuasive speeches were made in favour of the purchase. The foundation stones for the recommendation were: The Club at present did not have security of tenure; the land continuing as a links was important to the future of the town of Ramsey; the spending of considerable amounts of money on land they did not own; further improvements to the course were essential to maintain its status as a top course; the price that had been negotiated by Captain Black and Mr TB Cowley was a ‘very favourable one’. The cost was £9,500 (£532,625 today). ‘Very favourable’ seems to have something of an understatement given today’s value. Ramsey Golf Links Limited was formed in March, 1928, with the purpose of buying the land for lease to the Club. This was to be financed by the issue of 2000 (from 2,500 created) Cumulative Preference Shares of £1 which offered an attractive five per cent interest and 1,500 (from 2,500) Ordinary Shares of £1 each. The remaining £6,000 to be found by way of mortgage. It was hoped that every member of the Club would avail themselves of the shares. Under the agreement the company would purchase the whole of the land the Club occupied, with the exception of certain frontages along Lezayre Road, which were to be retained. The Club could continue to have use of this area. The Insurance Company would retain the right to take them back under certain circumstances. That being the case the Club, at some stage in the future, would re-arrange the holes affected by the reconstruction. As compensation the vendor included a field not part of the links as a surplus piece of land the Club could use should the frontages be built upon in future. It appeared to be a marriage made in heaven even if the Club’s annual subscription was to increase to two guineas. The cost compared favourably with Douglas Head course at two and a half guineas and Castletown Golf Club at two guineas. Port Erin though was just one guinea. The Club wanted and got, security and Pheonix had a sale. The purchase was completed by Ramsey Golf Links Limited (Golf Links). The Club took on a lease offered by the new landlord for a period of 10 years at a rental of £500 per annum plus the nett profit of the Club at the end of each financial year. The Club would be permitted, subject to Golf Links approval, to retain an amount to be used for general purposes of the Club. Provision was made ‘that the profits would be applied each year (after discharging interest on the mortgage) in payment, in the first place, of a dividend of five per cent, on the preference and ordinary shares and the balance carried to reserve until such reserve amounts to the sum of £2,000, whereupon the balance may be applied in the payment of a further dividend on the ordinary shares or any other purpose to which the profits of Golf Links may be properly applied’. The changes were applauded by the leader writer of the Ramsey Courier. The meeting of the Club had ‘afforded considerable food for thought and a personal satisfaction in the fact that one of our greatest assets, the Ramsey Golf Links, which are of supreme value and advantage to the town, have been placed on a sound and progressive basis’. The article went on to praise the gentlemen who had effectively brought about the change. The links were described as an indispensable feature of the resort. Good wishes of all were extended to the ‘promoters of this most desirable project'. Further Club improvements Even though the Club had had an eventful year to date, Golf Links was not finished. Having secured the course and with additional land allowed for their use, they were now in a position to further consolidate the Ramsey links at the top of Island golf courses. Although the current set up was adequate it was not seen as challenging enough or of a modern enough look. To change this, the company took the bold step of contacting the celebrated professional golfer, club maker and crucially, course designer, James Braid (above, right), with a view to him visiting the course and advising it on how to address the inadequacies of the present links. He responded promptly in a letter dated July 30, 1929, advising the Club that he would be available to visit the course in the first week of September. The fee would be £21 plus expenses. Monday, September 2, 1929, saw the five times Open Champion, a member of the Great Triumvirate of golf, embark on the 01.00 Isle of Man Steam Packet steamer to Douglas en route from Walton Heath Golf Club, Tadworth to Ramsey. By noon that day he was on site at Ramsey to start his first inspection of the links. He was accompanied by the Captain, Mr CW Oddie, the Secretary, AD Wilson, the Chairman of Ramsey Golf Links Limited, Mr TB Cowley and the sub-Captain, Mr WA Gibson. Braid didn’t bring his clubs with him though and so no exhibition games were organised, instead he devoted all of his time and concentration to the task at hand. On Tuesday, before making for the afternoon ferry, during the last course tour of his inspection he made numerous comments, all to be written down on his journey back to Tadworth. By September 11 Ramsey Golf Links Limited had his plans set out in a five page type written pages. 1000 yards to be added He wrote ‘…I was pleased to find the links so pleasantly situated and to see turf of such excellent quality.’ The plans he had would make the course more interesting, there were too many holes of a par of 3.5 ie just outside the reach of the long hitter and nearly all being able to get there in two making it difficult to give shots. His ultimate aim was to bring the links up to date, increasing the length by some 1000 yards and render them more sporting and interesting from the standpoint of the average player. Braid’s remit was to produce two schemes – one for the remodelling of the existing course and more radically, the reconstruction of the links taking into consideration the additional land now in the occupation of Radcliffe Bros. As directed, Braid produced the requisite schemes with a firm recommendation that if they were to do anything at all, they should adopt the reconstruction scheme. It was now up to the Board to decide whether they accepted his conclusions and if so, how to proceed with the development. To enable an educated decision to be made, both schemes were submitted to the eminent firm of Messrs J.R Stutt of Paisley, a firm favoured by Braid and used by him for many of his courses, who had considerable experience of course construction. One consideration was how much work their own groundstaff could carry out with regard to certain aspects of the works. However the Board considered the only way the plans could be carried out to total satisfaction was by placing the contract in total with the experts. The contract was placed with Stutt for the sum of £1,014. The course was ready for play in March 1931, with the Club being awarded the Ladies Island Golf Championships for that year. In an exciting final Miss Kathleen Ogden defeated Miss Leah McCutcheon 2 and 1 in ‘a jolly sociable game’. The links came in for much praise. And not only from the locals, Golf Illustrated commented that Ramsey had altered out of all recognition and that Braid had made just about all he could of the land. It went on to acknowledge the part that Stutt had played in the construction.
 1928-31 The Braid reconstruction
James Braid was a top class Scottish professional golfer and a member of the Great Triumvirate of golf alongside Harry Vardon and John Henry Taylor. He won The Open Championship five times. Braid took up golf early in his life and his first employment was as a clubmaker. He became a professional golfer in 1896, although it was not altogether successful, his putting letting him down. However, technology came to his rescue. After switching to an aluminum putter in 1900, major victories soon flowed – The Open in 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910, to which he added four British PGA Matchplay Championships (1903, 1905, 1907 and 1911), as well as the 1910 French Open title. His 1906 victory in The Open Championship was the last successful defence of the title by a European until Padraig Harrington performed the feat in 2008.
 RAMSEY GOLF CLUB, BROOKFIELD, RAMSEY, ISLE OF MAN, BRITISH ISLES IM8 1AA Telephone: Secretary 01624 812244. Professional 01624 814736. email: ramseygolfclub@manx.net