SOME of the world’s top golfers have paid tribute to Tranent’s own favourite caddie, James Rae.

Affectionately known in pro golfing circles as ‘Edinburgh Jimmy,’ he died last week at the age of 64 after working on the European Tour for more than 30 years.

Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley was joined by Ian Poulter, Gary Boyd, Andrew Oldcorn, Paul Eales and Thomas Bjorn in paying tribute on social media to the legendary caddie.

James was the youngest of eight siblings born to the late William and Elizabeth Rae of Tranent.

Around the age of 12, his father began taking him to courses around the county to work as a caddie, and it was not long before he started skipping out of his classes at Ross High School behind his dad’s back to get back on the bag. He worked in county clubs for years before he began getting bigger jobs in his twenties.

James went on to work with Irish golfer McGinley for more than 18 years on and off.

After hearing of his passing, McGinley wrote on social media: “Very sad news to start the new year in that my longtime friend and caddie Edinburgh Jimmy passed away today – I’m so sad and will miss him terribly.”

PGA and European Tour golfer Poulter wrote: “Such a sad start to 2020. One of European Tour’s characters. Heavy Head as he always called me. James Rae has passed away. What a gentle giant. His bark was louder than his bite. One of the kindest caddies I have ever met, RIP, you will be missed.”

James featured in the autobiography of the English pro-golfer.

In the book, published in 2015, Poulter wrote that James was recommended to him by a lot of golfers, and that he caddied for Poulter the second time he was at the Qualifying School and then stayed with him for the European Tour.

He wrote of his friend: “He was on the bag for my first three years on the European Tour and he is probably the most generous, kind-hearted person I have ever met. He’d give you his last £10. That’s why people love him.”

He added: “Jimmy’s one of those guys they’ll write a book about one day.”

Edinburgh’s Oldcorn, a three-time European Tour winner, said of James: “They broke the mould with Jimmy. Always had me in stitches.”

Former Scottish Senior Open champion Eales added: “What a part of the European Tour family he was. Will miss his banter and laugh.”

Bjorn, a Ryder Cup captain, wrote: “Waking up to the sad news that the golfing family has lost one of it’s great characters. Edinburgh Jimmy is a man I’ll remember so fondly. As a young pro he was the scariest man I had ever met!

“Getting to know him, he was the kindest with a wicked sense of humour. RIP my friend.”

James’ long-time friend Bobby Inglis, 63, of Annfield, Tranent, knew him from the age of five when the pair attended Tranent Primary School together. They remained lifelong friends.

He said: “James was a great guy – he wasn’t scared of anything and he was always happy-go-lucky.

“In the late ’60s when he was about 12 or 13 he would skip school to go down to Gullane and caddy for five or six shillings a round. He went to Muirfield, Gullane, Luffness, to all of the local courses.

“In the off-season he spent most of his life on building sites; he would have been about 25 or 30 when he started getting bigger jobs.

“I could tell you hundreds of funny stories about him but you wouldn’t be able to print them – they’re too rude! Everybody who knew him knows what he was like.”

Later on in life, James lived in London but frequently came home for a pint in The Keepers Arms with his good friends and his family.

James’ niece Andrea Mann, 45, from the Coalgate, said she never understood her uncle’s job, despite being forced to watch golf on the TV as a child in case he appeared.

Andrea, a hairdresser, said: “James never put on any airs or graces and never forgot his roots. When he would come back from the golf he would give all his family the hats and the jackets he would wear. He was very generous.

“He would give you anything he could. He always gave his friends free tickets for the golf as well – he never forgot his pals.

“It’s amazing to see all the comments people are saying about him now.”

James will be buried in East Lothian. At the time of publication, his funeral arrangements had not been finalised.