Wilfrid Ewart Reid was born on 3 November 1884 in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. He served a club and ballmaking apprenticeship with Willie Armour (Tommy’s brother) in Edinburgh and also made balls at the North British Rubber Company in the city.
His first professional appointment was, at the tender age of 17 in 1901, at the Seacroft club in Skegmess. Apparently at the suggestion of Harry Vardon he became professional to the Société de Golf de Paris at La Boulie in 1903 but still managed to play tournaments in Britain, the 1903 Open at Prestwick, the Midland PGA in October 1903 and the London Professional Tournament on October 1904. During his time in France he laid out the course at Aix-les-Bains..
In 1905 he was appointed professional at the Banstead Downs club in Surrey on the southern edge of London which seems to have afforded many opportunities for tournament play. In 1913 he accompanied Harry Vardon and Ted Ray on their tour of the United States and played in the famous US Open of that year at Brookline.
He also played well-publicised home and away challenge matches against J D Edgar and Charles Mayo. It was Mayo who called for a battalion of golf assistants to be formed by volunteers in the early months of the First World War (the so-called Niblick Brigade ). Reid was one of the enthusiastic supporters of this but, by early 1915, was himself safely in the United States, accepting the invitation from Clarence Henry Geist to become professional at his new Seaview Golf Club in Galloway, New Jersey. He left England on the Baltic from Liverpool on 17 February with a record of two wins in the Midland PGA championship and having played for his country against Scotland every year since 1907, never being beaten.
He only stayed at Seaview a few months, resigning in July and starting as professional at the Wilmington Country Club in Delaware a month later, as a replacement for Gil Nichols. He played from here in the 1916 US Open at Minikahda in Minneapolis, finishing 4th, his best finish in a “major”.
The following year he was in Gleneagles with the US team for their match against Great Britain , the curtain-raiser to the 1000 Guineas Championship. In the winter, as many northern professionals did, he took up a post in the south as chief instructor at St Augustine. He spent the 1922-23 season as professional at the Indian Spring club in DC.
In December 1922, the Detroit Free Press announced his arrival at the Detroit Country Club on Grosse Ile in the spring. Interestingly Joseph B Schlotman, who hired him, was impressed that he was ‘one of the old type of professionals’ with skills in instruction and clubmaking. ‘Country club officials make no boasts as to Reid’s playing – that was a minor consideration – but …. his name has been a familiar one at the National Open …. and he has generally managed to finish among the first dozen or so. That’s good enough for any professional.’ During his time here he continued his winter tenure in St Augustine.
Reid had always been involved in golf course design, right back to laying out a course while at La Boulie, but this became a serious business during his time in Detroit. He formed a partnership with William Connellan, who described himself in court (when the two of them had a run-in for drunken driving) as a ‘golf course engineer’ (sadly Connellan died of a heart attack a few days after this court appearance at the age of 54). They were responsible for more than 20 courses in Michigan. In 1926, Reid was asked to lay out a public course on Grand River Avenue, Novi, in which he would have a financial stake. The Plymouth golf course used his name as architect prominently in their adverts. He designed a course at Indianwood , was enterprising enough to sell illustrated booklets he had written on it, and must have liked it as he became professional here in 1928, remaining until 1932.
In April 1933 he signed up for a season at the Beverly CC in Chicago with the Chicago Tribune welcoming him as ‘one of the most highly rated teachers in the game’.
He went further west to become professional at the Broadmoor Country Club in Colorado Springs in 1934, again with a winter position in Florida, this time as chief instructor at Seminole. In 1946 he became head professional at Atlantic City CC in New Jersey.
He retired to South Florida and died in West Palm Beach in November 1973.
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