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Glen Golf Club
North Berwick, EH39 4LE
Manager, Tom McGinley
Tel. 01620  895288

18th East Links, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK

[14th on West Links]
14th West Links, North Berwick
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  Weather Forecast
 Famous Local Golfers

William H Horne
© Frankensaurus.com

  'Longest Drive in the World'
By Douglas Seaton
North Berwick Factfile

During a professional tournament on the Burgh course at North Berwick in July 1909, W.H.Horne professional at Chertsey Golf Club set a world record for the longest drive. From the 13th tee Horne drove to the side of the green, level with the flag and later in the day the distance was officially measured and returned a figure of 383 yards 1 foot. The newspaper report describes how the ground fell steadily from tee to green and as the surface was on the hard side at the time and the ball was further aided by a strong following wind, all the circumstances were favourable to the player. This is not however the longest drive ever made, although it is the longest made during the play in any competition.

The world-wide record stood for over twenty years and every time a 'longest drive' contest was mentioned so was the North Berwick Burgh course. The publicity was immense attracting golfers to North Berwick from far and wide trying to replicate the drive from the 13th tee. W.H.Horne enjoyed the attention as the longest driver of a golf ball in the world.

In July 24th 1909 an article appeared in Golf Illustrated regarding the longest drive. Some light has been thrown on the record drive o 476 yards said to to have been made by W. H. Horne while playing in the North Berwick professional tournament. Investigation has been going on and as a result it has been established that the drive was not 476 yards, as certified by the marker but approximately 388 yards. The mistake was easily made says Golf Illustrated and arose as we are informed by A.D. Wallace, town clerk of North Berwick and secretary of the Burgh Golf Club, from the fact there are alternative greens for the thirteenth hole and although the shorter one was used at the tournament, the length of the hole marked on the scoring card was that of the longer one, namely 476 yards.

Andrew Wallace sent Golf Illustrated an extract from a letter written by the greenkeeper Fred Smith who carefully measured the hole which seemed to place the matter beyond any doubt " I cannot find out the exact spot on which the ball rested, but the length of the hole from the tee to the flag is 388 yards and the farthest edge of the green from the tee is 393 yards but I hear that the ball was lying level with the pin and to the side of the green, If so, that would make the drive 388 yards."

A report in the New York Times on 30th October 1912 reads Golfers and visitors to the golf links at Van Corlandt were not a little surprised yesterday afternoon by the sight of a man wearing a black mask, black clothes, and black plush cap playing on the course. Many inquiries were made, but nothing was learned of the identity of the strange golfer except that he styled himself 'the Black Masker'.

It was just a news stunt with the idea of getting up a great game between the 'Masked Golfer' and some eminent champion. The American newspapers exchanged cables with London to one of the halfpenny picture papers trying to identify the 'Masked Golfer' who was eventually named as W.H.Horne, the world's longest driver.

W.H.Horne travelled to South Africa in 1914 and worked on his own account as a golf instructor in Durban and in 1917 he won the Open Championship of South Africa. That year the American press carried the story that W.H.Horne had created 'a world record' on the Ispingo links south of Durban with a score of 27 for nine holes. Alarm bells were ringing among the ranks of the world-wide press as they recalled the longest drive at North Berwick in 1909 - could lightning strike twice.


William Henry Horne born 1881 at 1 High Street, Cinque Port Arms, Kent son of William Horne, estate foreman and his Irish wife Mary Horne. In 1905 W.H.Horne was appointed the first professional at Royal Guernsey Golf Club, the following year he moved to Beckenham Golf Club and took a summer position at Carlsbad in Czechoslovakia. In 1908 he was based at Chertsey Golf Club, Surrey and resided at 13 Chantry Road. In 1914 he was a freelance professional working in Durban, South Africa.

He returned to England in 1919 and was working from Littlestone Golf Club, New Romney, Kent. In 1921 he sailed for America and was signed up to Rye Country Club, while residing on Weaver Street, New Rochelle, NY. In 1928 he then joined the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Akron OH, and that year he became an American citizen. He finished in the top ten in the Open Championship in 1909 and 1920 and was a freelance professional working from 39 Purdy Street, Harrison West, NY.

 Travel Route

Driving from the North and Edinburgh Airport

From Edinburgh take the A720 City By Pass (South) - follow sign post Berwick-Upon-Tweed (A1). Continue on A1 (South) and take the A198 - sign post North Berwick. Pass through the villages of Longniddry, Aberlady, Gullane to North Berwick. Then follow signs for Town Centre and East Links Golf Course. Drive time from Forth Road Bridge and Edinburgh Airport 45 minutes.

Driving from the South

From the A1 motorway take the A198 - sign post North Berwick. Follow signs for Town Centre and then East Links Golf Course.

Copyright © Douglas C. Seaton 1994 - 2021, All Rights Reserved.