James was born in Manchester and educated at Stamford Boys School.
He started playing Golf at Burghley Park Golf Course in 1964 at 11 years old and has some wonderful memories of his time here as a junior:
“I remember there were 1000’s of sheep all over the course back in those days and every green was surrounded by electric fences to keep them off, so navigating the course and not getting electrocuted was always a challenge, coupled with the fact there was sheep droppings everywhere I was constantly looking down and I contribute my slight stoop when I walk to all the years I looked down at the ground’
‘There were also no bunkers back then as the sheep would get into them so the course had no hazards, the trees were young and the course was perfect for a junior to learn on’
‘I remember enjoying playing in the winter syndicates when I was a junior, there was a group of approx.12 of us starting out every morning in the freezing cold and only 2 or 3 of us die hard golfers would finish, then we would warm up by playing poker back in the club house’
He won the English Amateur championship in 1974 and was a member of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team in 1975.
Mark played at Burghley until he was 27 when moving away with turning professional.
His first professional win was the 1977 Lusaka Open and the following year he picked up the first of his eighteen wins on the European Tour at the Sun Alliance Match Play Championship.
James never won a major championship, but he had four top-five finishes at The Open Championship. He was consistently competitive on the European Tour with twenty top-thirty finishes on the Order of Merit, including seven top-ten finishes, the best of them third place in 1979.
He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000, but after treatment began playing golf again in 2001.
James represented Great Britain & Ireland or Europe in the Ryder Cup seven times including 1989 when Europe tied the match and retained the cup they had won in 1987, and 1995 when they won it outright.
Mark qualified to play senior golf when he turned fifty in late 2003. He chose to play mainly in the U.S. and was second in the Champions Tour Qualifying Tournament Finals that November. In 2004 he became the first European player to win one of the Champions Tour's senior majors with victory at the Ford Senior Players Championship. In 2005, he won on the Champions Tour for a second time at the ACE Group Classic and finished in the top 20 on the money list for a second consecutive season.
His last full season on the Champions Tour was 2010 and he has played mainly on the European Seniors Tour since then.
James has also worked as a golf commentator for the BBC.