Edward Ray was born on 28th March 1877, seven years after Vardon. He attended the same school as Vardon under the headmastership of Mr Boomer. It is almost certain that he was offered the position of Professional/Greenkeeper at Ganton Golf Club because of a recommendation from Harry Vardon, his predecessor.
He joined the Club in 1903 and left to go to the newly founded Oxhey Golf Club in Hertfordshire in 1912. This was the year in which he won the Open Championship at Muirfield, beating Vardon by 4 shots. Ray was a huge, lumbering figure of a man with a pipe invariably clenched between his teeth. He usually wore a felt trilby hat, waistcoat, and flapping jacket.
He had a philosophy reflected in the advice he once gave a golfer who wanted to hit the ball further, “Hit it a bloody sight harder, mate.”
This propensity for hard hitting made Ray prone to wild, often disastrous shots, since he also sometimes swayed and heaved noticeably. These faults aside, his game lasted well, mainly through his fine rhythm and recovery skills. He also possessed a delicate touch around the greens.
These qualities made him an outstanding player and it was only the presence of the great triumvirate of Vardon, Taylor and Braid who restricted his wins in major tournaments. His record is outstanding. Apart from his Open win in 1912, he was runner-up twice. He was also runner-up in the British Matchplay Championship in 1903, 1911 and 1912, and he tied for the United States Open Championship in 1913. He won the United States Open Championship in 1920 at the age of 43, still the oldest golfer to win this title. The next British Champion was Tony Jacklin who won in 1970. These two and Vardon are the only British players to have won both Opens.
Ray played in the first Ryder Cup match in 1927 at Worcester, Massachusetts, and had the captaincy thrust upon him when Abe Mitchell, the original choice, was taken ill. He had played in previous Great Britain versus United States of America matches, the forerunner of the Ryder Cup in 1921 and 1926. He continued to play in tournaments and his last recorded win was the Hertfordshire Open in 1935.
When Ray left Ganton in April 1912, a Testimonial Fund was opened and in May the Secretary, Henry Gullen, reported that “£7–7- 0 had been received and it was resolved that the Captain of the Club should write to Ray and ascertain his wishes as to its disposal”. Whilst at Ganton, he lived in the middle cottage near the entrance to the Club. He appears to have been a very genial man well liked by his peers, always encouraging the younger professionals. Henry Cotton in his memoirs records Ray’s kindness to him in his earlier years.
Ray retired from Oxhey Golf Club in 1941, during his time there he advised on Golf Course Architecture. His influence is in evidence at Sandiway, Cheshire and at Bury St. Edmunds. He died in 1943.