Coat of Arms

Golf Courses
Bass Rock
Town History
Origins of Golf
19th Hole


East Links

West Links

North Berwick


Tantallon Castle

Old Photographs

Best Pubs
Skeletons at Auld Kirk
Berwick Law


Jack Hobens

Catriona Matthew

Jack White

Dorothy Campbell

Arnaud Massy

Fred McLeod

Watt Brothers

Thomas Dunn


Club Makers
Golf Professionals
and Course Architect


Antique Golf Club


Results per page:

Match: any search words all search words
Famous North Berwick Golfers
Catriona Matthew    Ben Sayers    Fred McLeod    Dorothy Campbell    Jimmy Thomson

William Law Anderson
Golf Club Maker
Born: 21st Oct. 1879, North Berwick.
Died: 25th Oct. 1910, Philadelphia, USA
[Willie Anderson]
Willie Anderson and Alex Smith
© Golf Bulletin 1905
[15th on West Links]
15th West Links, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK

[13th on East
12th Glen Course, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK

 West Links
 East Course

[13th on the West
13th West Links, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK

Tournament Record
U.S. Open : 1901,1903,1904,1905
Western Open : 1902,1904,1908,1909
Metropolitan runner-up 1912
Southern California Open 1899
Baltimore CC Open Tournament 1899
Brooklawn GC Open Competition 1903
Open Championship of Mexico 1906
Western PGA Championship : 1908
Florida Open : 1909

  Anderson wins his fourth U.S. Open Championship
By Douglas Seaton
North Berwick Factfile

WILLIE ANDERSON born 21st October 1879 at 18 Westgate opposite the Abbey Church. The house was demolished in 1899 to make way for the present building at 95-97, High Street. His father Thomas Anderson was born at Kingston Farm near North Berwick in October 1855 and his mother Janet (Jessie) Law came from Dunoon. Willie had four sisters Jessie (Daisy), Isabella, Robina, Davina and a younger brother Thomas Jnr.

Thomas Anderson Snr. rented the house and byre at Abbey View, 11 Abbey Road from 1884-90 before moving to Dalrymple Buildings (1891-92). Alex Brown a carter and dairyman rented the property at 11 Abbey Road and was the last to graze his cattle on the West Links. A typical byre and adjoining cottage can be seen today where the cattle were driven each morning. Willie Anderson was a licensed caddie on the West Links and at the age of 11 he was reported by the School Board for carrying golf clubs during school hours and was suspended by the Caddie Master for two weeks in 1891. On leaving school Anderson apprenticed as a club-maker with Alex Aitken at Brighton Terrace, Gullane, and 174, Morningside Road, Edinburgh.

Willie Anderson, aged 16 years sailed to America from Glasgow on S.S. Pomeranian and arrived in New York on 23rd March 1896. He was accompanied on the journey by Tom Warrender from North Berwick who was taking up the position of golf pro at Knollwood Country Club in New York.

"Anderson is the only player to win the US Open using two different balls, the gutta percha and the rubber core."

A report in the New York Times stated that Willie Anderson arrived on Sunday 21st March 1896 to take up his position at Misquamicut Golf Club, Watch Hill on Rhode Island. During the winter of 1896, Anderson travelled back to Scotland and returned in February the following year with Harry Reddie, a school friend from North Berwick. Harry was a caddie on the West Links and was appointed greenkeeper and pro at Saint Andrews Golf Club, New York. When Anderson moved to Lakewood Golf Club NY, Harry Reddie replaced him as pro at Misquamicut in 1898.

In 1896 Anderson extended the course at Misquamicut to eighteen holes. Willie Park Jnr. laid out the first nine the previous year. Until Anderson went to America he had never played in a competition and in September 1897, he entered the U.S. Open for the first time. The championship was played over 36 holes at the Chicago Golf Club where Anderson finished second, one stroke behind Joe Lloyd from Essex Country Club. The players were level going to the final hole, a 466 yard, par 4, and after a magnificant drive, Lloyd hit the green with his brassie and sunk an eight-foot putt for a bidrie three. Lloyd scored 83 and 79 for a winning total of 162, while Anderson had rounds of 79 and 84 for a total of 163 and a 100 dollars in prize money. Willie Dunn and James Foulis, both exchampions shared third place.

The brassie used by Joe Lloyd is on display in the British Golf Museum and is an example of the equipment used by both players. At that time Anderson broke all kinds of records, he took 32 strokes for nine-holes at Burlingame C.C. and his best for 18 holes was 68 at Palm Beach G.C.

Willie Anderson was professional at ten clubs in fourteen years, including two years at Baltusrol. In the winter of 1900, Willie covered for his father at Montclair while Tom Anderson Snr. visited his family in Scotland. He was head pro at the Country Club of Oconomowoc WI, and later that year Willie took charge of the new nine-hole course at Pittsfield. Then three years at Apawamis C.C (1903-06); Onwentsia (1906-09), St Louis C.C. (1909-10) and Philadelphia Cricket Club (1910).

" Fred McLeod once remarked that Anderson at his best, was as good as either Walter Hagen or Bobby Jones, and no one knew Anderson's game better than McLeod."

In December 1899, Anderson travelled west to California with Horace Rawlins where they played in exhibition matches and taught the game to enthusiasts. They were hired as instructors to Oakland Golf Club, which became Claremont Country Club in 1903, and they entered the Southern California Open at Coronado Golf Club, San Diego. Anderson won by one stroke from Alex Smith, despite Anderson being unfamiliar with the 'skin' greens of oilsand. John D. Dunn who grew up in North Berwick with Willie Anderson reported on the championship for the Los Angeles Herald. He commented that he hoped they would grow Bermuda grass in the southern golf courses similar to the ones in Florida. Cocoanut mat tees would also be great improvement.

While in California Willie Anderson gave instruction to Miss Josephine Johnson of the Claremont Golf Club. In 1912 she played in the Woman's Northern California Golf Association championship and was described as swinging the club with grace and power as if she was born on the links.

In June 1900, it was reported in the Oconomowoc Republican newspaper that the Country Club of Oconomowoc in Wisconsin had hired Anderson to give lessons. The club was forty miles west of Milwaukee and the area was popular with summer visitors from Chicago and St Louis. The club adopted the name Lac La Belle Country Club in 1925.

Anderson was a boarder in the Schlitz Hotel in Oconomowoc owned by Austrian born Adolph von Moellen a member of the Masonic Lodge and his wife Emma. Von Moellen was originally a bartender who gained fame for his unusual repertoire of fancy and rare concoctions. He was also employed by the Country Club of Oconomowoc and the Majestic Hotel where he was known to thousands of Midwestern travellers as an aristocratic mixer of drinks.

At the 1901 US. Open played at Myopia Hunt Club near Boston, Massachusetts, Willie Anderson and Alex Smith posted a 72-hole score of 331, to tie the tournament. In the first 18-hole play-off in Open history which had to wait until Monday because Saturday and Sunday were members days, Alex Smith had a three stroke lead at the ninth hole and by the thirteenth the lead was extended to 5 strokes and the match looked all over. At the fifteenth however Smith got bunkered and took 7 strokes. He lost another stroke at the seventeenth and turned to the last with a lead of 1 stroke. Willie Anderson played the hole perfectly carding a 4 against 6 to win the championship by a single stroke 85-86. His caddie in the playoff was Myopia professional and superintendent John Jones and Anderson acknowledged he had benefited from his local knowledge on the greens.

At that championship, the American media picked up on Anderson's quote when he growled " No, we're no goin tae eat in the kitchen." Willie was furious when told the professionals could not enter the clubhouse. The players were eventually allowed to eat in a specially erected tent.

In 1901 Anderson was persuaded by John D. Dunn to winter in Florida. Dunn was employed by the Florida West Coast Railroad Company to develop their golfing hotels. The courses included Belleair, Tampa, Kissimmee, Winter Park, and Ocala. The East Coast Railroad owned the courses at Ormond, Miami Golf Links, Palm Beach, St Augustine and Nassau. Dunn encouraged the top pros to winter in Florida and be identified with his hotel group, instructing and playing golf with the guests. Anderson was affiliated with St Augustine for several years.

The following winter Anderson returned to California and was resident pro at the opulent Hotel Raymond in Pasadena. Anderson finished second to Alex Smith in the Open Championship of Southern California at Coronado Golf Club. Willie Smith representing Hotel Green in Pasadena was third. Willie Smith's club maker was Alex Baxter from Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, Scotland.

On 17th September 1902, Anderson captured his first Western Open, a title which was as important in golf then as the Masters is now. Anderson shot a record 299 for 72 holes with one round a 69." A splendid exposition of two days' golf, " waxed writer Herbert Tweedie, " to be remembered, to be thought of, to be conjured over, and finally to be put on the record shelf." Anderson became the first player to hold the titles to the US two major tournaments, and no golfer had previously broken 300 for 72-holes in America. The Western was Anderson's most prized title when he broke the 300 mark, scoring 299. His mother continued to wear the medal back in Scotland. His best friend Harry Turpie from St Andrews took the prize for a 69 in the Western Open. In 1895, Turpie moved to Musselburgh and then to Anderson's home town North Berwick. The following year Turpie entered the Open Championship at Muirfield representing North Berwick. The U.S. Open was played at the Garden City Golf Club, where Willie finished fifth, the new Haskell rubber cored ball was now in use.

Anderson, described as sturdy, with muscular shoulders, brawny forearms and exceptionally large hands. His accuracy was legendary particularly with his favourite club the mashie, equivalent to the present day five iron. He drove the ball more off his left than his right foot, hitting it 233 yards. The strongest part of his game was his brassie, particularily from a bad lie and he changed to the interlocking grip in 1900, used by Gene Sarazen, Francis Quimet, Alex Morrison, and Henry Picard. Anderson's grip was even more of an interlock than that of the Laidlay-Vardon-Taylor school for the index finger of his left hand extended 'way through between the third and little fingers of the right, instead of allowing only the knuckle to show in that aperture. His was not the upright swing of a Vardon, but the flatter, fuller sweep of the typical Scot. Anderson regularly played with eight clubs: driver, brassie, cleek, midiron, one he called a pitching iron, heavy-centered mashie, large mashie-niblick, and putting cleek. He named the driver as his favorite; then mashie, midiron, and brassie.

"Anderson endorsed Worthington clubs and their woods bearing his signature
were the first example of an autographed club in America."

Willie's unhurried move through the ball disguised effortless power and he was also a rhythmical putter but his main attribute was his unflappable demeanour. Described as a dour man who attended strictly to business and displayed little sense of humour on the course but he was a mixer off the course and popular with his fellow professionals. Golfers during Anderson's time essentially wore clothes formal enough to attend church in but not Willie Anderson. His typical attire was a tartan wool cap pulled low (to camouflage his large ears), baggy plaid trousers, a plain shirt, a cloth neckerchief (instead of a silk tie), and an old tweed jacket.

Tom Anderson Snr. emigrated to America in January 1900 and was accompanied on the journey by his son Thomas Anderson Jnr. and Jack Hobens from North Berwick. Hobens first position was assistant at Nassau Country Club before being appointed to Yountakah Country Club. Tom Anderson Snr. took up a position ten miles away at Montclair Golf Club in March 1900. The course was closed for several days to enable Anderson Snr. to improve the old nine-holes and extend the course to eighteen holes in August 1900.

Jerry Travers while a member at Montclair won the US Amateur in 1907 and 1908 and the US Open in 1915. Tom Anderson remained at Montclair until his death in 1913 aged 58 years. Willie's younger brother Tom Anderson Jnr also worked at Montclair in the 1903-1910 season and as head pro in 1913-15. Willie's mother Jessie remained in Scotland with her three daughters living at 15, South Clerk Street, Edinburgh.

[Passenger List]
Willie Anderson's entry in the customs ledger at Ellis Island, New York in 1896
© Ellis Island History Center

Willie Anderson returned to Scotland in January 1903 accompanied by George Low from Carnoustie who was pro at Dyker Meadow Golf Club NY. They were without a contract when they returned in March and boarded with a friend Stewart Boyle at 291, 5th Avenue, Brooklyn. In April George Low signed up as pro at Baltusrol and Willie Anderson accepted an offer from Apawamis Golf Club near Rye NY. Later Stewart Boyles's son became assistant pro to George Low at Baltusrol.


During Willie Anderson's visit to Scotland in March 1903, it was reported he played the North Berwick West Links. In a threesome Willie Anderson did a 72 at North Berwick equalling the professional record held by Ben Sayers and Willie Park Jnr. The next day Sayers beat Anderson 2 up and 1 to play. This is the first and only newspaper report of Willie Anderson playing the North Berwick West Links.

At the 1903 US Open, played at Baltusrol, Anderson was six-strokes ahead going into the final 36 holes including a record score 73 in the first round, but he blow his lead taking an 8 at the 9th hole. In the final 18 holes he parred eight of the last nine which took him into a play-off with Davie Brown on 307. Brown originally came from Musselburgh and was a slater with a story of his own. Known as 'Deacon' he won The Open in 1886, when invited to make up the numbers. Brown turned up black with slate dust and was made to have a bath before being lent a pair of the secretary's smart pants and top hat so he could play. In the 1903 play-off for the US Open, which was marred by pouring rain, Anderson beat Brown by two strokes, 82-84. Davie Brown was a familiar figure at North Berwick working the West Links during the summer months when Anderson was a school boy hanging around the clubmakers workshop. In 1891, Davie spent a week in the town partnering Ben Sayers in money matches.

The Anderson family 'Father and Sons' set another record which has never been equaled. Thomas Anderson Snr. and his sons Willie Anderson and Tom Anderson Jnr. played in the same US Open at Baltusrol in 1903.


In January 1904 the Booklyn Daily Eagle reported on Willie Anderson's marriage to Miss Agnes Strokes. They were married on Thursday 30th December 1903, by the Rev. Dr. Houghton at the Church of the Transfiguration more widely known as the' Little Church Around the Corner' described as a small Episcopal Church on 1,East, 29th Street (Manhattan). The bride's mother gave her away and Bernard Nicholls, professional of the Hollywood Golf Club, was best man. The bridegroom's father Tom Anderson professional of the Montclair Golf Club was present and a number of professional golfers including George Low professional of the Baltusrol Golf Club and many others.

Willie Anderson became the first two-time winner of the Western Open on 1st July 1904 with a four-stroke victory over Alex Smith. Anderson and Smith were pitted against each other throughout the tournament and ran away from the rest of the field at Michigan's Kent Golf Course, with Anderson claiming the $200 first prize. This course presented some interesting hazards and obstacles for the golfers, such as a windmill centred on a putting green and chicken wire strung across several fairways. One week later at the U.S. Open played over Chicago's Glen View Course, Willie didn't need a play-off this time as he prevailed by five strokes. Setting a U.S. Open record of 303 and his closing round 72 was also an 18-hole tournament record.

The report on Willie Anderson becoming the first three-time US Open champion in July 1904 reached Australia six weeks later, when the liner RMS Orotava arrived with files from the London newspapers. The report was then published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

[Horace Rowlins, Willie Anderson, Alex Smith]
  Horace Rawlins sits in front of Willie Anderson, who has his arm round Alex Smith
© Ralph W. Miller Golf Library
Anderson designed clubs for Worthington Manufacturing and endorsed the 'near indestructible' Champion ball, Their woods bearing his signature were the first example of an autograph branded club made in America. In June 1905, Willie Anderson and Alex Smith returned to Scotland especially to take part in the Open Championship at St. Andrews. Smith finished sixteenth but Anderson's performance was disappointing, taking 86 and 88 and failed to qualify for the final two rounds. Anderson was able to catch up with his contemporaries from North Berwick who also played in the 1905 Open, including Davie Grant, Jack White, Dan Kenny, Alex Thomson, Ben Sayers and his close friend James L Hutchison.

Willie struggled with the new bunkers and said in my opening round I got in no less than eight bunkers and a brook, every one cost me a stroke. The bunkers were laid out by one of his father's apprentice green keepers from North Berwick, Hugh Hamilton. He took over from Tom Morris as head green keeper and was responsible for creating many of the bunkers at St Andrews and lengthened the course in reaction to the Haskell ball. The newspapers reported that Willie Anderson was dressed in a grey jersey and blue trousers and the headlines suggested he must be the first golfer dressed like that to drive off the first tee at St Andrews.

"When Anderson won the US Open for the first time in 1901 he received a medal which he sent
to his mother in North Berwick and she wore the pendant as a necklace for many years.''

Anderson and Smith returned to the States in September for the U.S.Open at the Myopia Hunt Club near Boston. At first, it looked as if Anderson was out of the running for a third straight title. Scores of 81 and 80 left him five strokes behind Alex Smith and Stewart Gardner. But after the 4th hole of the third round Willie stood 2-under for the day, from there in, he ate away at the lead, then moved in front, steadily and inexorably. By the 70th hole, he had a four-stroke lead and held it together to prevail by two over Smith. Anderson received $200, a gold medal and custody of the cup was given to his club. The original US Open trophy was destroyed in a fire in 1946 while in the possession of the Tam O' Shanter Golf Club in Illinois. The trophy used today is a full scale replica.

It was reported in the local newspaper that Anderson on the day before the championship took on the best ball of three times US Amateur champion Walter Travis and local star Hugo Johnson. The two amateurs struggled as Anderson set a new course record 72 and overwhelmed his opponents 7 and 6.

Joseph 'Joe' Horgan caddied for Willie Anderson during three of his four Open victories between 1901 and 1905. Following the Open Championship at Myopia Hunt Golf Club in September 1905 a meeting was held in the Astor House, New York to organise the United States Golf Association of America. It was decided that the Easterners will affiliate with the Western Association. An executive committee was appointed consisting of George Low, Willie Anderson and Alex Smith from the New York district. A committee consisting of Stewart Gardner, Donald Ross and Willie Anderson was appointed to bring about the affiliation.

During the winter of 1905, Willie Anderson travelled to Florida with Willie Smith, Gilbert Nicholls, Alex Smith, Bernard Nicholls, George Lawson. Willie Anderson won the West Coast championship at Magnolia Springs. In January 1906 Bernard Nicholls received a commission from the president of the Mexico Country Club to recruit players for a golfing extravaganza in San Pedro de los Pines that would include an open championship and an international match, the object of the exercise was to popularise the Mexico Country Club in the winter season.

The group of professionals included Jack White, Sandy Herd, and Andrew Kirkaldy and Fred McLeod, who were invited to San Pedro de Los Pines in Mexico to play a series of exhibition matches. At the end of the week Willie Anderson won the first open championship of the Republic of Mexico with a score of 149 for 36 holes. To encourage the Eastern golfers to travel south there was a special train running from New York to the City of Mexico with a single fare rate for the round trip.

In February, when the group returned to the USA a number of the British pro's stayed over to play Pinehurst and Palm Beach while Willie Anderson sailed with Jack White back to Scotland. During the previous November Tom Anderson Snr. brought Willie's new American wife Agnes Stokes to meet his family in Edinburgh.

During his visit Willie and his father played a foursome match at Elie in Fife against Isaac and Dan Mackie. At the four hundred and twenty-yard fourth hole Isaac hit a long ball just as a flock of starlings flew over and one of them was hit. The bird was killed instantly and glided gracefully to earth with wings out stretched. Willie's father had the bird stuffed and displayed in a glass case which he kept for many years. Dan Mackie from the neighbouring village of Earlsferry was pro at Dunwoodie (NY) and Isaac was at Fox Hills (NY). Willie and Agnes returned to America, sailing on the S.S.Cedric, from Liverpool they arrived in New York on 24th March 1906. Willie signed a new contract with Onwentsia G.C. IL which was reported to be for more money than any other golf pro in the USA. Anderson teamed up with Willie Marshall from St Andrews who carried out the clubmaking and teaching at Onwentsia.

On 18th June 1908, at Normandie Park Golf Club in St. Louis , Anderson became the first three-time winner of the Western Open by edging out Fred McLeod, by one stroke. Anderson (150) was in second place after the first day of play as he trailed the leader, Laurie Auchterlonie (147), by three strokes. While Auchterlonie struggled the second day, Anderson shot a steady 149 to overtake Auchterlonie and his 149 was just good enough to hold off a charging McLeod (144). This was a very close and competitive Western as only three strokes separated the top six golfers.

The tables were turned in August at Myopia, when Anderson was going for his fifth U.S. Open victory and Fred McLeod snatched the title after a play-off with Willie Smith. In 1908 Willie Anderson won the Western Professional Golfers Association championship at Beverly Country Club in Chicago. In 1909, Willie's brother Tom Anderson Jnr. entered the Championship from the Montclair Golf Club and finished in 8th place. The winner was George Sargent , while Willie Anderson finished 4th; Jack Hobens 6th and the defending champion Fred McLeod finished in 13th place. That year Willie Anderson won the Florida Open Championship at Palm Beach and received a cheque for $150. Palm Beach had Bermuda grass which did not stand much wear so the greens were clay. The feature of the course were the Palm Tree hazards, which if a ball was driven into the broad trunk it would normally stayed there. At this time Orlando was described as having wide streets, twenty-five miles of hard road, one hotel, the San Juan and a public golf course beside the lake.

Anderson laid out the new course at Hot Springs Golf and Country Club, Arkansas and in February 1911 Fred McLeod was in charge of the course. Although Fred McLeod lived in the same stair as Anderson in North Berwick, he did not see much of him due to the disparity in ages, Anderson was three years older - "and that makes lots of difference when you are kids," said McLeod. But Fred saw plenty of Willie and his skill in America, especially when both were attached to mid-western clubs.

"Chick Evans Jnr. US Amateur Champion raised funds for Anderson's widow by organising an exhibition in Chicago Indoor Golf School of moving pictures of well known golfers."

On 15th September 1909, Willie won the Western Open at Skokie Golf Club in Illinois, for the fourth time. On the day proceeding the tournament, twenty three players led by Willie Anderson defeated a side led by Fred McLeod 32 to 28. The winners divided the purse put up by the Skokie Club. In this match McLeod won three points from Anderson while George Sargent won one from Tom Vardon.

Tom Mercer, a fellow pro and close friend of Anderson said that although Willie was not a glad-hander, he went that route with his friends, buying them drink and probably his convivial habits had much to do with undermining his health. Tom Mercer born 1861 in the village of Rosewell south of Edinburgh. In 1899 he laid out the nine-hole course at Innis Arden Golf Club in Connecticut where he was appointed their first pro/greenkeeper. In 1901 he moved to Pine Woods Inn Golf Club, Southern Pines NC, and then settled at Chattanooga Golf and Country Club before accepting a position at Marine and Field Country Club, Sound Beach. Mercer caddied for Anderson during 1898 and said Willie was like a son to me and would often visit us at Sound Beach.

In October 1909, a number of eastern professionals where invited to play in a professional tournament during the Gaspar de Portola Festival to honour the leader of the expedition which discovered San Francisco Bay and was California's first governor. Among the professionals were George Sargent, Fred McLeod, Alex Smith and Willie Anderson. The Portola committee granted a sum of $1000 to pay their expenses on condition the players raised $2000 in prize money. The competition was played at San Francisco Golf and Country Club at Ingleside links and their professional John Black had the course in good order. The tournament was won by Willie Anderson who defeated Macdonald Smith 5 & 3 in the matchplay final and received $750 dollars or 150 pounds sterling. This was the largest individual money prize ever offered or won at a golf competition.

In March 1909 Willie Anderson returned north following his regular winter post at St Augustine, Florida. While he was engaged as professional at St Louis Country Club, Anderson was invited to layout the course at Hot Springs Golf and Country Club, Arkansas. Anderson recommended Fred McLeod, from North Berwick as his replacement at St Louis and six months later Anderson resigned to take up a position at Philadelphia Cricket Club. Fred McLeod and Willie Anderson were former US Open champions and their families resided in the same common stair at 98 High Street, North Berwick, Scotland.

Anderson was appointed head pro at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, (St Martin's course) situated in the historic district of Chestnut Hill. He resided with his wife and daughter in a cottage on Wissahickon Avenue opposite the Convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph (now Chestnut Hill College). The cottage which overlooked the ninth green on Whitemarsh Valley golf course was demolished to make way for the Lincoln Woods Apartments and the road was renamed Northwestern Avenue. In 1910, Willie Anderson's friend from North Berwick Jamie Campbell was the pro at the newly opened course at Whitemarsh Valley so the thick burr of Scottish voices could be heard at the top of Chestnut Hill, particularly when they were joined by Jimmy Thomson, a former North Berwick caddie who was head pro at the Philadelphia Country Club.

[Anderson] It was reported at the time that Anderson's game had deteriorated but he was still playing to a high standard. In April 1910 he was second in the Florida Open, played several challenge matches with Gilbert Nicholls, described in the press as being of an excellent standard. In July he was a finalist in the Eastern Professional Golfers' Association Championship. Following the Eastern PGA at Salisbury Links, a four ball match was played at the Inwood Country Club, between Gilbert Nicholls, Wilmington, Willie Anderson, Philadelphia Cricket against Alex Smith of Wykagyl and Tom Anderson Jnr. the Inwood professional, the former couple winning by 3 up and 2 to play. NicholIs made a new record for the course of 37, 36 – 73. The best ball of NicholLs and Anderson was 70, 69 – 139 the losers scoring 71, 71,-132. However he did not show to defend his Western Open title at the end of August which may have been a reflection on his health.

The same month, he played in the Metropolitan Open at Deal Golf and Country Club (NJ) in what was to be his last tournament. Among the competitors were five North Berwick pro's, Jack Hobens, Tom Anderson Jnr., Fred McLeod and the Thomson brothers James and Robert. James Thomson ($25) finished sixth, McLeod ($20) seventh and Willie Anderson finished just out of the money in twelfth place.

In October Willie Anderson played three 36 hole exhibition matches at Oakmont and Allegheny with his partner Gilbert Nicholls against two amateur golfers William C.Fownes Jr. the national champion and Eben M.Byers, former amateur champion. Anderson returned to his home at Wissahickon Ave, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia where he died the following day on 25th October aged 31 years. It was during the play that the local golfers first heard the shocking news that Anderson had died

A.W.Tillinghast, a golf journalist wrote articles for The American Golfer under the name 'Hazard'. In December 1910, following the death of Willie Anderson he wrote. 'His fellow professionals freely admitted when he 'was right' he was without a peer. Always quiet and unassuming, he played the game, allowing his clubs to speak for him. I played with him many times during the past year, particularly just before the open championship and I knew he was 'not right' although not from his lips. His drives were apparently just as of old, and his irons were finding the pin with the same monotonous regularity, but he was worrying over his putts. For the first time in history he failed to get in the money. After the second day's play I spent a half-hour with him in his club shop, his wife and baby were with him.

There were tears in his eyes, but he was the same stoic as before the crowd of sympathetic admirers of the afternoon. He was talking his medicine without wincing, and it was bitter. He was a sick man, he knew it, but he had given his best and been a failure, and he carried this thought to his grave; but I know that Willie Anderson in his hour of defeat was greater than he had ever been in victory.

It was reported in some quarters that Anderson died of arteriosclerosis, a fatal hardening of the arteries. The Philadelphia Public Ledger said he suffered a brain tumour. Other sources suggest Anderson may have died from something less socially acceptable - acute alcoholism. Most modern descriptions of Anderson - ' dour' personality and 'boozy' lifestyle seem to emanate solely from one man quoted in one place - a profile of Anderson in the December 1929 issue of The American Golfer. In 2005, golf writer Bill Fields searched the Philadelphia City Archives and discovered the official cause of death for 31-year-old Anderson wasn't hardening of the arteries, as has long been reported but epilepsy.

[Anderson] Left: Jacob H. Fisher, Funeral Director's Ledger Book.

On 28th October 1910, Willie Anderson was buried in Ivy Hill cemetery in Philadelphia. His father and mother attended the funeral. The publication American Golfer suggested the family were left practically destitute.

At a meeting of the Eastern Professional Golfers' Association whose president was Jack Hobens the former North Berwick caddie. They determined to raise a fund for the benefit of Willie Anderson's widow and child, and for this purpose an appeal was made to all the golf clubs of the country.

At the same meeting it was also decided to erect a monument to Anderson at the place of his burial in Philadelphia. Three years later, Willie was followed to the grave by his father Tom who died of pneumonia aged 58 years after 13 years as pro at Montclair G.C. in New Jersey.

Francis Quiment was the first amateur to win the US Open in 1913. He used an interlocking grip which he copied from Willie Anderson. On the green he also used Anderson's style of the 'soldier stance' with both heels together, his elbows sticking out fore and aft and the club swinging like a pendulum from the shoulders. His interlocing grip was used by Alex Morrison, Gene Saracen, Francis Quimet and Henry Picard.

Following Anderson's death, the amateur golfer Charles Evans Jnr. twice U.S. Champion collaborated with businessman C B. Lloyd of the Goodrich Company to raise funds for Willie Anderson's widow. They organised a special exhibition of moving pictures of noted golfers at the Chicago Indoor Golf School with all proceeds going towards the fund.

Chick Evans admired Willie Anderson and used many of his practice routines including hitting the ball with his eyes closed, a routine copied from Anderson who practiced hitting 200 balls wearing a blindfold. Evans was the best American amateur golfer of his generation at a time when the amateur player was held in higher regard than the professional.

To his credit, Evans showed compassion towards Willie Anderson's family which demonstrates how much he admired the Scotsman's achievements and speaks volumes about Anderson's character. In 1916, Chick Evans was the first player to win the US Amateur and US Open in the same year.

Willie Anderson's wife Agnes Stokes was born 1882 in Manhattan, New York, the daughter of John Stokes and his wife Mary Reagan. Agnes married Willie Anderson in 1903 in New York where their daughter Mary Law Anderson was born in 1909 and died in 1911. By 1913, Willie's mother Jessie had moved to England to live with her daughter at 'Montclair', 6 Flamstead Avenue, Wembley.

" 89 years later, on the same date 25th October, another multiple US Open champion William Payne Stewart met his untimely death."

A month after Willie Anderson's death, the Rye Chronicle reported on plans for a fundraiser by the members at Apawamis for Anderson's wife and daughter. In 1940, when the PGA Hall of Fame was formed, it could not locate any family survivors and gave his plaque to the Onwentsia Club, where it hangs in the grillroom along with a photograph of Anderson circa 1909. When Willie Anderson died his clubs were sold at auction. They were bought by members of the Philadelphia Cricket Club. In 1915, Tom Anderson Jnr managed to acquire the mashie his brother had used so effectively throughout his career.


Willie Anderson was born at 18 Westgate, now 97 High Street (above), opposite the Abbey Church where the Anderson family attended. The Thomson family also stayed at 97 High Street. Their three sons where golf professionals, James (Apawamis Country Club), Robert (Glen Ridge Golf Club) and Alexander was the personal golf instructor to Lord Northcliffe.

Since the Championship debuted in 1895, nobody else has ever accomplished that hat-trick of US.Open's and his record of four victories is shared by Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus but bettered by nobody. Willie played in 14 straight Open's, was second once, third once, fourth twice, fifth three times, 11th twice and 15th once. Anderson was the first great player to emerge in the U.S. but no one is sure just how great, since balls, clubs and the condition of courses were below todays standard.

On 10th September 1975, Willie Anderson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and Gene Sarazen, a former Apawamis caddie, accepted for him. There are 104 enshrines at the World Golf Hall of Fame now in St. Augustine, Florida and officials obtained signatures of 102 of them to reproduce in granite obelisks. Willie Anderson and Young Tom Morris had the only signatures that couldn't be located, their names inscribed in block letters.


Willie and Tom's father Tom Anderson Snr. was born at Kingston Farm near North Berwick in October 1855. He was an engine driver before he was appointed second assistant greenkeeper to Tom Dunn on the West Links, North Berwick before Dunn left and Davie Plenderleith took over in 1889. That year Tom was appointed greenkeeper at the old Luffness course laid out north of the Peffer Burn with access over the timber bridge (now leading to Aberlady Nature Reserve) and the adjacent ford used by horse drawn carriages. In February 1890 he received a telegram offering him the position of head greenkeeper at North Berwick with a wage of 30/- a week. Tom's younger brother Andrew was the first of the Anderson's to show a talent for golf. He was granted a professional license on the West Links and entered the Open Championship at Muirfield in 1892. Andrew suffered from mental health problems and joined the greenkeeping staff under his brother Tom. In 1897, Andrew was taken into nursing care in Haddington where he died in 1906 aged 34 years.

Thomas Anderson's brother-in-law William Law the overseer at Auchiewillie Farm, Dunoon moved with his family to North Berwick in 1888 and was appointed greenkeeper on the Ladies Course, North Berwick. Willie and Hector Law were granted their caddie licensed on 30th April 1891. The Law family resided at 2 East Road where Janet Law was the dairy-maid in the byre at the top of Balfour Street.

In 1892 Tom was appointed greenkeeper at the Braid Hills in Edinburgh and three years later he returned to North Berwick. In 1895, Tom Anderson supervised the extension of the West Links golf course beyond the Eil Burn and he created many new holes including the 14th named 'Perfection'. Anderson was given five pounds and his assistant Jimmy Litster a pound in recognition of their hard work in laying out of the extension. Tom Anderson resigned on 17th February 1900 and in December that year emigrated to America with his son Tom Anderson Jnr.

In March 1900 the course at Montclair was closed for several days to enable Tom Anderson Snr. to improve the old nine-holes and extend the course to eighteen holes in August 1900. Anderson was attached to Montclair Golf Club for several years and was joined by his son Tom Anderson Jnr. in 1909. The New York Times announced that Tom Anderson Snr. died of pneumonia at Montclair Golf Club on 23rd December 1913.


Tom Anderson Jnr. was born in 1885 in Abbey View, 11 Abbey Road, North Berwick. He emigrated to the USA with his father who was appointed pro at Youtakah Country Club, Nutley, New Jersey before moving to Montclair Golf Club, New Jersey. Tom Anderson Jnr. was a well liked pro whose flashy outfits attracted everybody's attention. While most golfers still wore the rumpled trousers, ties and tweeds of the old Scottish guard, at the 1912 US Open Tommy Anderson Jnr. decked himself out in a pure white silk shirt adorned with red, blue, yellow and black stripes, a natty bow tie, pleated white flannel pants with the cuffs rolled up, just one turn, a bright red bandana looped casually around his neck, a blinding plaid cap and gleaming white buckskin shoes with thick red-rubber soles and wide white laces. A young Walter Hagen was so inpressed he would later emulate Anderson's refinery.

On arrival in America, Tom Anderson Jnr. joined his father at Montclair Country Club. The links were closed for several days to enable Tom Anderson Snr. to improve the old nine holes and get the new ones in shape. In 1903 Tom Anderson Jnr. was appointed professional at Oakmont near Pittsburg. It was understood that the stiffness of the rules at Oakmont did not suit him and he returned to New Jersey. In 1909-19 Tom Anderson Jnr was appointed professional at Inwood Country Club, Long Island. which lasted all year but to fulfil the Southern engagement in Florida he received a four month leave of absence.

Tom Anderson Jnr. was the first winner of the Pennsylvania Open Championship in 1912 and he won the title again in 1915 after an eighteen hole play-off. That year The Pennsylvania Open was held at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club and at the end of 36 holes Tom Anderson Jnr. (Montclair Golf Club) was tied with Eddie Loos (Pocono Manor Golf Club). Following an 18-hole play off they remained tied. It was 8pm and the play-off went to sudden-death. On the Shawnee's first hole Anderson won the title for a second time with a par four. Anderson and Loos split the top two prizes of $100 and $70.

Tom Anderson Jnr was runner-up in the Eastern Professional Championship and won the Pennsylvania and Connecticut Opens in 1915. He was pro at a number of clubs including Glen Ridge, NJ (1901-1902);Yountakah Golf Club NJ (1902-1904); Pittsfield Golf Club, NJ (1903); Tom Anderson Snr. Montclair Golf Club, NJ (1903-1913). Tom Anderson Jnr. Inwood Golf Club , LI (1910-1911); Oakmont Country Club (1910); Montclair Golf Club, NJ (1909-1915). In 1913 Tom Jr was re-engaged by his father at Montclair Country Club. Tom Anderson Jnr held the position of professional during the winter months at Augusta Ga. Tom was also engaged at the Inwood Country Club, Long Island (1910-1911) and wintered at St.Augustine, FL (1910-13) where his brother Willie was pro, which lasted all year but to fulfil the Southern engagement in Florida he received a four month leave of absence.

During the winter season of 1905/06 Tom Anderson Jnr. returned to Scotland to visit his family in North Berwick and his mother and sister's at 15, South Clerk Street, Edinburgh. Tom Anderson was taught to play golf by his brother Willie and both had similar styles except Tommy drove the ball harder with his woods. In 1907 Tom Anderson Jnr. was elected to the committee of the Eastern Professional Golfers Association.

In a tournament at the opening of the new 18 hole course at the Country Club of Brookline in 1909, Tommy Anderson Jnr. finished third behind Jack Hobens and the winner Alex Campbell. In 1911, Tommy Anderson Jnr playing in a foursome match with Alex Smith set a new course record at Inwood Country Club on Long Island with a 68.

At Christmas 1914, Tommy travelled over a 100 miles to lay a wreath at the grave of his father and brother at Ivy Hill cemetery. That winter Tom played a number of exhibition matches with Bernard Nicholls across the southern states finishing in Florida in April 1915.


Tommy Anderson Jnr. was killed in an automobile accident on 13th August 1915, aged 30 years. He bought the car two weeks ago and with a demonstrator was taking a spin in company with Tom Ward, the Montclair club steward and William H. Mitchell a negro automobile demonstrator of Newark who were thrown out of the car. Mitchell suffered a broken leg and Ward was severely bruised. Anderson who was yet new to the intricacies of steering was driving in an unlighted part of a dangerous street. He was driving a high powered vehicle which hit a rut in Prospect and Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange, and pitched over the side of the road into a gully ten feet deep. Anderson was caught under the heavy vehicle and instantly killed. The demonstrator's leg was broken and Ward was severely bruised. Tommy Anderson Jnr. was buried at Ivy Hill beside his father and brother.

Willie's sister Jessie M. L. Anderson (Daisy) emigrated to the USA in 1902 and was living with her father and brother at Montclair. That year Daisy set a new course record playing from the men's tee's at Montclair she shot 93 beating the previous record by three stokes. She later returned to Scotland permanently, was married twice and died at 3 Glengyle Terrace, Edinburgh in 1933, aged 52 years. Her mother Jessie Anderson (subsequently Chisholm) remained in London.

Willie Anderson's grandfather Andrew Anderson was born at Linkhouse farm, Dirleton in 1829. The white washed cottages adjacent to the eighth fairway on the West Links golf course at North Berwick is all that remains of the farm buildings. The eighth hole takes the name 'Linkhouse' where the Anderson family worked the land, and where the golf course is now laid out, beyond the Eil Burn.

Willie Anderson Memorial Trophy

An extract from the New York Times and Yonkers Statesman published on May 27 1930. A group of golf professionals calling themselves the Professional Golfers Senior Association, met at the Philadelphia Cricket Club's Flourtown course to play a tournament. Along with a cash prize, the winner had their name engraved on the Willie Anderson Memorial Trophy. Among the players was a number of former North Berwick caddies gathered from all over the USA including Fred McLeod, Jack Hobens, George Thomson, Jack Campbell and Jim Ferguson. The tournament was eventually discontinued and seven years later the PGA of America introduced a Senior PGA Championship which continues to the present day. Willie Anderson was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

In 2020, Willie Anderson's golfing achievement's were recognised by the North Berwick community when a street was named 'Anderson Fairway' after the four-times U.S. Open champion.

[Abbey View Cottage]

Abbey View Cottage, 11 Abbey Road, North Berwick where the Anderson family resided from 1880-1885.
Jessie and Thomas Anderson Jnr. were born here. © Digitalsport UK
Copyright © Douglas Seaton 1994 - 2022, All Rights Reserved.