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Rory McIlroy

A history of the US Open trophy

Join us as we take a look at the story behind one of golf’s oldest and most prestigious prizes

 

The origin story

The US Open Trophy dates back to the championship’s inaugural tournament in 1895. Prior to play commencing at Newport, The USGA commissioned Gorham Company to produce a silver sterling trophy to be awarded to its champion golfer alongside a $150 cash prize and $50 gold medal.

Weighing roughly nine pounds and standing 18 inches tall, the US Open Trophy was born, complete with a silver figure of Victoria, the Goddess of Victory, topped on the lid.

Horace Rawlins was the first golfer to get his hands on the trophy when he was victorious in the one-day event in 1895. The Englishman was afforded the luxury of keeping the silver cup for a year until the next tournament, a tradition which carried on for the next century.

The infamous fire

As the much burlier Wanamaker Trophy also experienced, allowing golfers to keep hold of the trophy in the wake of victory ran into some obstacles.

In 1898, Fred Herd, a notorious drinker, was apparently asked to place a deposit on the trophy after the Scot won the US Open at Myopia Hunt. The cup returned in one piece, but half a decade later it wasn’t so fortunate, tragically imperilled in a fire at Tom O’Shanter golf club where 1946 champion Lloyd Mangrum had been showcasing the trophy.

The USGA was forced to commission a replica, which was first hoisted by Lew Horsham after he won the 1947 US Open. In the proceeding years, the trophy continued to be awarded to every winner before its retirement to the USGA museum in 1986.

Jack Nicklaus Medal

Alongside the iconic US Open Trophy, winners of the tournament also receive a gold medal which they can keep forever. In 2012, the gold medal was fittingly named the Jack Nicklaus Medal after its four-time winner. To honour the great American, the memento comes complete with Nicklaus’s face depicted on it.

perks of winning the us open

Into the modern era

With the duplicate US Open Trophy now stored in the USGA museum, the winner of this year’s tournament will receive a full-size replica, which they are responsible for engraving themselves before returning for a smaller version the following year.

Like its predecessors, the replica trophy still holds many memorable stories of its own. After winning the US Open in 2011, Rory McIlroy almost had to have a third trophy commissioned when it was held and temporarily lost by Chinese customs during the Northern Irishman’s tour of Asia.

Fortunately the trophy was restored, and since then its seen many iconic moments, from being gatecrashed by an unexpected guest during Webb Simpson’s ceremony in 2012, being cherished by Justin Rose after his emotional win at Merion in 2013, to being be hoisted back-to-back by Brooks Koepka in 2017 and 2018.

Brooks Koepka

Now have your say

What do you make of the history of the trophy? Who will get their hands on the US Open Trophy this year? Let us know your thoughts with a post on X, formerly Twitter!

Matt Coles

Matt Coles

Mention a European country, and Matt will tell you which resorts make the National Club Golfer Top 100s: European Resorts list. He might even throw in who designed the golf course and how many rooms the hotel has got at each one…

Matt got into the game of golf from a young age, following his old man to the local golf club. He fell for the sport, and now can’t seem to go a day without thinking about how to improve his game (Thanks Dad!). Matt has been a member of Howley Hall GC in Leeds since 2020, and is just about managing to maintain a single-figure handicap. He likes to remind people that he once broke 75, but won’t tell people that it was on a shortened course during the winter.

He moved to Leeds after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Journalism. Matt joined NCG after almost five years travelling the world with the Professional Squash Association, working on events in all four corners of the globe.

Matt currently plays a Cobra King LTDx driver and RadSpeed 3-wood. TaylorMade monopolise the rest of his bag, with a SIM UDI, M5 irons and both Milled Grind and HI-TOE wedges, along with a Monza Redline putter. He uses a Vice Pro Plus golf ball, because he’s a bit different…

Away from golf, Matt is a Manchester United fan, and a keen runner, having ran the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon (his first and possibly last), in May 2023.

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