He soon became a prominent amateur golfer, playing out of North Berwick, and was either runner-up or winner in five out of six British Amateur Championships between 1888 and 1893. On 9 January 1889 he married Jane Eileen Redmayne in Ambleside, Cumbria. Their son John was born there the following year. In 1891 the family moved to Scotland and took a long lease on Strathairly House (shown below) in the Parish of Largo.
While living at Strathairly, the Laidlays had two more children - Richard Ernest in 1892 and Eileen Faith in 1895. Sadly, Richard died there at the age of 15 months. During their time at Strathairly, Johnny became Captain of both the Lundin Ladies Club and the Lundin Golf Club. General Briggs (from whom Laidlay rented Strathairly) had been 1893 Lundin Captain. Johnny succeeded him and remained Captain until 1896. Laidlay's Captaincy covered the period when the new club house at Lundin was built and officially opened.
In 1896, the family left Strathairly and took a five year lease on Grangemuir House, north of Pittenweem. The Dundee Courier noted that "Largo people will be slow to part with one who has done much to brighten the social life of the place, but the fact that he is still in the county is gratifying". While living at Grangemuir, the couple had another child, Robert Anthony (in 1897) but he too passed away in infancy. Johnny became involved with Elie Golf Club and was Captain there in 1897.
Laidlay had memberships at many clubs over the years, including St Andrews and Muirfield. North Berwick Golf Club was particularly special to him, however, and around 1898 he commissioned the building of a ten-bed roomed mansion house overlooking the 8th fairway of the club's west links. Named 'Invereil House' this was his base for many years until he relocated to Sunningdale in Berkshire after World War One. He named his home there "Auldhame" after part of East Lothian that neighbours Seacliffe (and which was once also part of his father's estate). He passed away there on 15 July 1940 at the age of 80.
Whilst these traits didn't catch on, the overlapping grip first used by Johnny Laidlay certainly did. Later popularised by Harry Vardon, this grip is now used by around 90% of golfers around the world. At the time of Johnny Laidlay's death the newspapers described him as "a stalwart of the "gutty" ball age", "one of the most famous Scottish amateur golfers", "originator of the overlapping grip" and "a master of the cleek". They noted that he won more than 150 medals during his competitive days and "retained much of his golf skill later in life." Wouldn't it have been great to see Laidlay's strongly individual style in action on Lundin Links?