Most professional golf trophies have namesakes. For example, there is the Wanamaker Trophy that is awarded to the winner of the PGA, and the Claret Jug for the British Open. But this is not the case with the US Open Trophy even though it has been around since 1895. This makes it the oldest trophy of the four handed out during golf’s four tournament Grand Slam held every summer.
The trophy is a rather simple design. It is a silver jug set on top of a matching base. From each side extends an ear shaped handle. At the top of trophy stands a small winged female figure on the cup’s lid. From the top, the trophy tapers until it meets the wide base. On the barrel of the trophy the name of the winner is engraved in block type. The opposite side displays an engraved golf scene.
The first US Open trophy was awarded in 1895 at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island. The first golfer to claim the prize was Horace Rawlins from Britain. Along with the trophy, he took home a prize purse totaling a whopping $150. As was the custom at the time, Rawlins had the honor of displaying the trophy at his local club for one year and returning it for the next US Open.
In the opening years of the tournament the trophy was regularly won by the more experienced British golfers. But that changed in 1911 when native born John McDermott took home the trophy. Since that time, the trophy has been claimed by Americans on a regular basis.
In 1946 the original trophy was destroyed in a fire while on display at the Tam O’Shanter country Club near Chicago. The current trophy, which is closely modeled after the original, is no longer kept by the winner until the following tournament. Since then, the US Golf Association has taken steps to ensure the trophy’s continued safety.
In 1986 The US Open Trophy was ‘retired’ and is currently housed permanently in the USGA museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in Far Hills, N.J. It is brought out for promotional events and displayed at the US Open.
Instead of getting possession of the original for a year, the US Open winner is awarded a replica of the trophy which they get to keep. On an odd note, the winner is then responsible for having his own name engraved on the trophy.
Three players have won the US Open four times each. They Include Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and Bobby Jones. The last of these was Jack Nicklaus in 1980. More recently, golfing’s most prominent player ever, Tiger Woods, has claimed the trophy three times. His most recent US Open victory was back in 2008.
The youngest champion was John McDermott who won the trophy in 1911 at the age of 19. You may remember his name from earlier. He was also the first American to win the US Open.
The oldest champion is Hale Irwin who took the prize in 1990 at the tender age of 45.
The most consecutive US Opens started was 44 by Jack Nicklaus. He competed in every Open from 1957 to 2000.
This year marked the Open’s 113th tournament. The tournament has been cancelled a total of five times in its history. Twice for World War I and three times for World War II.