US PGA: The incredible story of the Wanamaker Trophy

Wanamaker Trophy New

At the end of this week, somebody will hold aloft the Wanamaker Trophy having won the US PGA Championship.

One of the most famous pieces of silverware in the game, the story behind the Wanamaker Trophy is as fascinating as the list of champions whose names are engraved on it.

Appropriately, given this year’s championship is taking place there, it can trace its roots to the ‘Big Apple’

New York City department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, who was pivotal in coordinating a 1916 event that led to the PGA of America being created, offered to provide the new organisation with cash prizes and a trophy for the inaugural US PGA Championship.

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According to the PGA website, Wanamaker suggested that the cup be similar to the News of the World award given to the PGA champion in Great Britain.

In the first year of the PGA Championship, the trophy was put up as a prize alongside a $2,500 purse – approximately $60,000 in today’s money – and travel expenses for those taking part.

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The first championship was played from October 10-14 that year at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, NY, and was won by Jim Barnes. The Englishman defeated Jock Hutchison one-up in the final.

From then until 1959, the champion’s home club or residence was engraved on the trophy. Since 1960, the winner’s name and the host venue has featured.

Vital stats

Weight: 34lbs – the equivalent of 15 bags of sugar
Height: 29¼ inches
Diameter: 10½ inches
Width: 27 inches (handle to handle)

Walter Hagen

An interesting thing happened…

With his victory in 1928, Leo Diegel ended Walter Hagen’s four-year winning streak of Walter Hagen, when he beat ‘The Haig’ in the quarter-finals at Five Farms Country Club in Baltimore. Diegel went on to win the championship, the first of his two major victories.

Just one problem – the trophy was missing!

PGA officials asked Hagen what had happened to the trophy in between his victory at Cedar Crest in Dallas a year earlier and Diegel’s 1928 win.

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Hagen confessed that he had given the trophy to a taxi driver to take a hotel where he was staying, but it never arrived.

It stayed lost for two years until, in 1930, it was found by accident by a porter in Detroit cleaning the cellar of L.A. Young & Company… the firm that made clubs bearing Hagen’s name.

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Today, it is kept on display at the PGA Gallery at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Each year’s champion is awarded a replica of the trophy to keep for one year, and a smaller replica to keep permanently.

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