The U.S. Open trophy is rather unremarkable, checking in at only 8.5 pounds, and the Claret Jug awarded to the British Open champion looks like something you’d find in the back of grandma’s silver cabinet. The trophy awarded to the Masters champion, meanwhile, is a complete afterthought thanks to the Green Jacket, but the winners do receive a sterling-silver replica of the Augusta National clubhouse. It’s genteel hardware for a genteel sport.
But the Wanamaker Trophy, given to the winner of the PGA Championship, now that is a trophy. It checks in at a hefty 27 pounds, measures 10 1/2 inches in diameter, is 27 inches from handle to handle and stands 28 inches high, or approximately half a Justin Thomas, the 2017 champion:
The Wanamaker Trophy dates to 1916, when department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker called for a gathering of professional golfers, who were considered little more than hired help at the time. The golfers banded together to form the PGA of America and decided to hold a tournament to determine the country’s top pro, with Wanamaker ponying up $2,500 for the prize fund and ordering a rather burly silver cup to be presented to the winner. Whether the size of the trophy was overcompensating for something or was a symbolic nose-thumbing at those who held pro golfers in such disregard has been lost to time, but it certainly stood out and still does.
“I was genuinely shocked by the weight when I picked it up,” Padraig Harrington told the AP one year after hoisting the Wanamaker at the 2008 PGA Championship, a lift made heavier by the fact that he played a draining 27 holes on Sunday after bad weather scuttled things on Saturday. “The only trophy that would compare to that would be the old World Cup trophy, but they don’t make them like they used to when it comes to trophies. That is certainly one of the great trophies.”
Winners usually spend a not-insignificant amount of time posing with the trophy for photographers, which can take its toll.
“Every time I switch sides, people think you’re switching sides because you’re showing your sponsor,” Harrington told the AP, alluding to corporate logos on his shirt. “But no, I’m resting.”
There actually are a bunch of Wanamaker Trophies in existence, with the original 1916 version having the best story. Walter Hagen won the PGA Championship title four consecutive times from 1924 to ’27 but, after he was upset by Leo Diegel in the 1928 quarterfinals (the PGA was a match-play event until 1958), he admitted that he had somehow left the trophy in the back of a taxi while carousing in Chicago after the second of his four wins. This issue never arose, or Hagen never was forced to admit it, simply because no one thought to re-present him with the trophy after each of his wins; he already had it in his possession. Another trophy was commissioned after Hagen’s admission but, two years later, the original turned up in an unmarked case in the Detroit basement of the company that made Hagen-branded golf clubs. That first-issue trophy was retired after its discovery and resides permanently at the PGA Historical Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla. — the name of each winner still is added — while its 1930 replacement is awarded to each year’s champion for 12 months. The winner also receives a smaller version of the trophy to keep permanently, according to PGA.com, though he also may purchase a full-size replica.
The Golf Channel has a nice look at the making of the replica trophy that each year’s PGA Championship winner gets to keep.
For comparison’s sake, the Stanley Cup is 35.25 inches tall and weighs 34.5 pounds. Both, apparently, are suitable for use as actual silverware, so to speak. The Washington Capitals, for instance, have followed the path of their NHL champion forebears and have consumed a complete menu of food and drink out of the Stanley Cup this summer while Jason Dufner, the 2013 PGA champion, revealed one of golf’s most closely held secrets in a chat that year with Howard Stern: The Wanamaker Trophy can hold 43 beers, or one puppy:
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