The incredible story behind the US Open trophy

Us Open Trophy

The Claret Jug, the Green Jacket, the Wanamaker Trophy.

Compared to the prizes on offer at the other three men’s major championships, the silverware given to the winner of the US Open is much more understated. A ‘typical’ trophy in size, look and feel, it even has the most low-key name imaginable: the US Open Trophy.

What it lacks in pomp and bombast, however, it more than makes up for in lustre. Make no mistake, this is a prize that every golfer wants to get their hands on.

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The first US Open was won by English ex-pat pro Horace Rawlins in September 1895 at his home club, Newport Country Club in Rhode Island. In return for his efforts, Rawlins was presented with $150 – roughly $4,000 in today’s money – as well as a gold champion’s medal, and possession of a sterling silver cup for one year. 

The trophy was designated for display at Rawlins’ club until it was presented to the next year’s champion. Thus began a perennial rite that has endured for more than a century. 

We say ‘endured’. That only really tells part of the story. The original two‐handled cup was, in fact, destroyed by fire in September 1946 at Lloyd Mangrum’s home country, Tam O’Shanter, just outside Chicago.

At that point, the USGA reportedly considered replacing it with a new design but opted instead to preserve the look of the original with a full‐scale replica that was commissioned on  April 24, 1947.

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This replica remained in service, passed from champion to champion until 1986, when it was permanently retired to the USGA Golf Museum. Today, the US Open champion – most recently, Bryson DeChambeau – receives possession of the 1986 full‐scale replica.

History buffs can check out the original US Open trophy, which is on display at the USGA Golf Museum in Liberty Corner, New Hersey.

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