If you want to know the name of the man guaranteed to get his hands on the Claret Jug when the winning putt is sunk… look no further. Millions of television viewers worldwide will see Garry Harvey engraving the 2012 champion’s moniker upon the trophy some time after 6pm this evening. This will be the ninth time Harvey, 56, has performed the role since inheriting the job from his late father Alexander, who retired after engraving the words “Ben Curtis” in 2003.
“My father did it for 33 years and then I took over,” says Harvey, who competes as a professional on the senior circuits of Scotland and Europe. Apparently, although he is “a wee bit nervous” at his high-profile moment, he will only be seriously worried should there come a day when Miguel Angel Jiminez or even Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano lifts the Claret Jug.
“The only thing that can trouble an engraver is the length of the name,” says Harvey. “So ‘Padraig Harrington’ was a fair squeeze, but it was okay. It’s all part of The Open routine to have the television camera filming right over my shoulder. The tension builds up a bit while I am waiting to find out which name to engrave, but once I get started there’s no pressure.”
The precise engraving today will be the winner’s name, the year, the words “at St Annes” (not Royal Lytham & St Annes, because of the space available) and the number of strokes.
Harvey, based at Kinross Golf Club in Perthshire, had an outstanding amateur career, including winning the British Boys’ title in 1972. He spent a number of years on both the European and Challenge Tours, with the highlight being his victory at the Kenya Open in 1985.
“That was in the days when a lot of European Tour pros played in Africa,” he says. “I played in the final group with Jose Rivero, and the first prize was about £12,000 – but then I got landed with Kenyan tax, which accounted for about £4,000 of it!”
Odd as it seems now, until the late 1960s, winners of The Open would actually take the Claret Jug away and have it engraved themselves.
“But in 1968 the defending champion Roberto De Vicenzo brought it back without his name engraved. Then there was another problem when Gary Player’s name was engraved in huge letters that took up about two columns. E
ven now it does stick out a bit. So the R&A employed my father because he did the engraving at the shop in St Andrews which the R&A used for all its silverware.
“I learned to engrave as a schoolboy to earn extra pocket money. It was quite hard at the time, as you need to learn lots of different styles of writing and lettering. It’s a seven-year apprenticeship so it takes a while, but I qualified working under my father. I was 17 when I won the British Boys’ title, and by then I was sufficiently skilled to engrave my own name on it.
“Of course it was always the dream to engrave my name on the Claret Jug. I tried many times to qualify for The Open and managed it on one occasion – when Seve won here at Royal Lytham in 1979. On the morning of the first round, my local caddie went off to carry the bag for another Scottish pro, Willie Milne. So on the morning of the first round I was scurrying around trying to find a caddie. It wasn’t the best way to prepare.” He shot 80-82 and missed the cut. But as Harvey himself says: “It is quite hard to qualify for this thing, you know!”