The England–Scotland Professional Match was an annual men’s professional golf competition between teams representing England and Scotland. It was played from 1903 to the start of World War I and was then revived in 1932 and played until the start of World War II. The match was played on a single day, generally a few days before the Open Championship. Except on one occasion, there were 12 players in each team who played 12 singles matches and 6 foursomes. Scotland won the inaugural match in 1903 but didn’t win another match, although three matches were tied. The event was organised by the PGA and only members of the PGA were eligible to play.
In 1902 an international match between English and Scottish amateur golfers was played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club prior to the Amateur Championship there. The match consisted of 10 singles matches played over 36 holes. The following year the Professional Golfers’ Association decided to organise a similar match for professionals at Prestwick, before the 1903 Open Championship. It was originally planned to play 36-hole singles but it was later decided to play both singles and foursomes. Because only members of the PGA were eligible to play, a number of Scottish golfers were not available for selection, including William Auchterlonie, Andrew Kirkaldy and Archie Simpson.Tom Williamson was originally selected for the England team but was replaced by Fred Collins.
The 1908 match was abandoned because of bad weather. The England team was: Tom Ball, George Cawsey, Phil Gaudin, Ernest Gray, Rowland Jones, Charles Mayo, Ted Ray, James Sherlock, J.H. Taylor, Harry Vardon, Tom Vardon, Tom Williamson. The Scottish team was: James Braid, George Duncan, James Hepburn, Sandy Herd, John Hunter, Andrew Kirkaldy, Ben Sayers, Ben Sayers, Jr., Ralph Smith, Tom Watt, Robert Thomson, Jack White.
In 1909 there was a dispute about which team Fred Robson would represent. He was born in Wales but apparently had a Scottish father and English mother and was initially selected for both sides. Having learnt his golf in England he eventually chose to represent that country. A meeting of the PGA on the following Monday accepted the principle that the player could choose in such situations. However this account is contradicted by evidence from the 1891 census of Wales which records that his father was born in Birmingham and mother in Holywell, Wales.
There was no match in 1911 because a “Coronation Match” had been organised between teams of amateurs and professionals on the Saturday before the Open Championship, 24 June. The match was in celebration of the coronation of George V on 22 June. The match consisted of 9 foursomes matches, each over 36 holes and resulted in an 8–1 win for the professionals.
The PGA decided that the 1914 match would not be played at the same time as the Open Championship. The proprietors of Country Life agreed to provide a cup. It was planned to play the 1914 match at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club on 22 October. Even after the outbreak of World War I it was decided to still hold the event and to raise money for the Prince of Wales’ War Fund but the match was eventually cancelled. A charity match was played at Fulwell Golf Course on 12 December 1914 between English and Scottish members of the Southern section of the PGA in aid of Princess Mary’s Christmas Gifts Fund for soldiers and sailors. The match followed the same format as the full international. The English players won by 8 matches to 6 with 4 matches halved.
England won all 7 matches played from 1932 to 1938. The closest match was in 1937 when Scotland led 4–0 after the foursomes but England won 9 of the 12 singles to win 9–7. England and Scotland played two matches in 1938 since they also met in the Llandudno International Golf Trophy in September. Henry Cotton was selected for the England team in 1932 but declined the invitation and was replaced by George Oke. Cotton never played in any of the matches.
The 1939 match was cancelled because of the expense and difficulty of collecting the entrance charges on the Old Course at St Andrews. The PGA has already received permission from the Town Council to charge for entry.