Coburn born c. 1876/77
Coburn was born in East Lothian in Scotland and was engaged by
Portmarnock in 1895 as a
professional golfer and greenkeeper when he was no more that nineteen-years
old at the time. He
likely secured the position through his greenkeeping experience
in Scotland with Old Tom Morris. He left his mark as both a player
and course designer. His career started in his native Scotland,
followed by Ireland, back to England and would eventually move
across the Pond to the greater New York area where
he would be engaged by numerous Golf Clubs. He lived in the Burrow,
Malahide a village close to Portmarnock and married Kathleen,
a Dublin girl two years his junior [Source: Census
1901]. He may well have converted to Roman Catholicism to
faciltate his marriage to the Dublin girl as his brother James
was a professional at Portrush around the time of the census and
records his religion as Church of Ireland.
Cahill (1899-1904) joined Coburn as as assistant professional
at the end of nineteenth century and would remain until 1904.
Although Scottish by birth he was during his tenure at Portmarnock
considered 'adopted Irish' and his progress was watched attentatively
by the golfing scribes. His weakness was considered to be his
driving as.."having an exceptionally long swing and a
rather exaggerated body swing he is rather subject to lapses in
the accuracy of his wooden club play." In 1899 when the
main professional players in Great Britain and Ireland gathered
at Portmarnock Coburn held the course record of 72 but despite
this only just finished in the prize-money £2 10s but was
responsible for the course for the duration of the amateur and
participated in a number of British Opens including those of 1900
(St. Andrews) ,1904 (Sandwich),1906 (Muirfield) and 1908 (Prestwick)
where he finished 26th, 16th, 35th and 24th respectively. Coburn
qualified for the 1908 He made the Final Four of the British Match
Play Championship in 1903 along with Ted Ray, J.H. Taylor and
James Braid the eventual winner. Coburn also participated in a
series of matches pitting Scotland versus England. The NY Times
(May 19, 1912) reported that Coburn had represented Scotland in
1903, 1904, 1905 and 1907 and won all his matchesand was a four-time
Irish golf champion 4 and the Scottish champion once. Despite
this there was no formal professional championship in Ireland
while Coburn was based here although there were regular competitions
and in the early years of the twentieth century Coburn would have
been considered the best player in Ireland. The professionals
were given handicaps and as his was plus 6 he would likely take
the gross score but wouldn't necessarily win the competition.
His nearest rivals would be W. Clay and James McKenna who both
played off plus 2. In September 1900 a thirty-six hole exhibition
match was arranged between Coburn and Harold Hilton (1 US amateur,
3 British amateurs and 2 British Opens) at Portmarnock. At the
end of the first eighteen Coburn was three up (80 vs 82) but the
scores had been reversed by the final-hole (83 vs 79) and holing
a putt from off the green secured Coburn's victory by one-hole.
At the time Hilton was the guest of Malcolm Inglis, a member of
Portmarnock, and resident in Montrose in Donnybrook the current
site of R.T.E.
leaving Portmarnock he took a position in Erskine, Glasgow and
then Sandwell Park Golf Club in West Bromwich in 1906 (and still
there in 1908).
came to the United States sometime circa 1912. The Glenwood Country
Club near Glen Head Long Island was his first engagement as the
Club Professional.¹ He later would assist Emmet Devereux
in the design of the Salisbury Golf Club on Long Island. (Eisenhower
Park today). He also apparently had an affiliation at some time
with Quaker Ridge Golf Club near Harrison NY. The following article
appeared in The American Golfer magazine:
O N D E R F UL A L E R T N E S S.
GEORGE COBURN FOR AMERICA.
George Coburn, a Scottish international player, who was until
recently professional to the Knebworth Club,
Herts, and formerly attached to the Portmarnock Club, Ireland,
has landed in America. He is taking up professional duties to
a club near New York. The World of Golf, London, Feb. 27.
Coburn arrived in New York early last May and has since been professional
to the Glenwood Country Club, of Glen Head, Long Island.
is attributed with the layout of the nine-hole course at Naas
Golf Club, the Dundalk Golf Club and assisting Old Tom Morris
with the New Course at St. Andrews and may have assisted with
the Royal Dublin Golf Club.
Coburn's PGA medal collection Scotland versus England 1903-1907.
Ebay Auction - click here.
Spalding's Official Golf Guide 1914
Healy: Portmarnock Golf Club 1894-1994 - A Centenary History