The Golf Championship Trophy, also known as the Claret Jug, will be presented to the winner of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club.
Here are seven interesting things to know about the oldest trophy in golf.
1. The Belt Years
The Claret Jug is not the original prize for the winner of The Open Championship. When Willie Park Sr. won the very first Open, at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860, he was awarded what was called the Challenge Belt. Made of rich Moroccan leather, the belt was embellished with a silver buckle and emblems. It was purchased by the members of Prestwick for 25 British Pounds (a lot of money at the time) from silversmith’s James and Walter Marshall.
2. The Canceled Year
According to the rules back then, if a golfer won the championship in three consecutive years, the belt would become the property of the three-peat champion. And in 1870 Tom Morris Jr. did just that. He won the Open Championship for the third consecutive time and walked away with the Challenge Belt, outright.
The future of the championship was uncertain following Morris’ third win, as the Open no longer had a trophy, and the Prestwick Club didn’t have the financial resources to commission a new one. As such, in 1871 there was no Open Championship held.
3. The Medal Year
In 1872, the Prestwick Golf Club created an alliance with the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Muirfield) and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (St. Andrews). The clubs agreed to share the Open, and each club contributed 10 pounds for the new trophy, which they agreed would be a silver claret jug.
The newly designed trophy, however, wasn’t made in time for the 1872 Open Championship, and so the winner, coincidentally Tom Morris Jr. again, was presented with a medal inscribed The Golf Champion Trophy.
4. The Original Trophy
In 1873, with young Tom Morris now the rightful owner of the belt (as pictured), Tom Kidd became the very first champion to be presented with the Claret Jug. The name Claret refers to a dry red wine from the famous French region of Bordeaux. In the 19th century, these types of silver jugs were used to serve the French red wine. Hence, The Claret Jug.
5. The Replicas
In 1920, all responsibility for the Open Championship was handed over to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and in 1927 they decided to retain the original trophy and present a replica to the winner. Since then, the original trophy has been on permanent display at the clubhouse of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. It is kept alongside the Challenge Belt, which was donated by the Morris family, and the Amateur Championship Trophy.
The champion get to keep the replica for a year but have to return it before the start of the next Open. The winner also has an option to commission a limited number of additional replicas for themselves which are slightly smaller than the original trophy.
There are actually five Claret Jugs at the moment. The original at the clubhouse, the replica with the current Open Champion, one which is housed at the British Golf Museum at St. Andrews in Scotland and two additional replicas which are used for traveling exhibitions around the world.
6. The Stories
All winners of the Claret Jug have one story or another.
- Tiger Woods reportedly kept it on his mantle, while Sir Nick Faldo kept it by his bedside.
- Upon winning the 1982 Open Championship, Tom Watson mistakenly received the original trophy. The 5-time Open winner gave it a serious dent when he knocked it over a table while taking practice swings at home. This dent has since been added to the replicas.
- Tom Lehman’s two children had actually dropped the Claret Jug while playing with it. He had to take it to a local silversmith to get it repaired.
- Darren Clarke was pulled over in Ireland for speeding. He happened to have the Claret Jug with him in the car. Apparently the police got to take photographs with it and Clarke didn’t receive a ticket.
- More recently, Rory McIlroy had actually taken the Claret Jug to a night club in Belfast where he and his friends had Jägermeister out of it.
7. The Engraver
Every year at the conclusion of the Open Championship, television viewers around the world get to see the champion golfer’s name engraved on the Claret Jug, even for just a few seconds. It’s part of the lore and tradition of The Open. But until about the late 1960s, the winner actually took the trophy back home and had it engraved themselves.
In 1968, however, Roberto De Vicenzo brought the trophy back without his name engraved, and so the R&A decided to assume the responsibility of engraving, and assigned it in house.
In 1973, they brought Alex Harvey on site to engrave the name at the conclusion of the championship, and the rest is history. Harvey would engrave the iconic jug onsite for the next 30 years, finally passing on the duties to his son Garry in 2004 (at Royal Troon). The elder Harvey officially retired in 2005, and passed away in 2008 at the age of 83.