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Open Insight

The Claret Jug


All You Need To Know

The Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool, the host venue for The 151st Open

The Claret Jug is the trophy every male golfer dreams of holding aloft.

Presented to the winner of The Open, it recognises the Champion Golfer of the Year.

Many of the greatest names to ever play the game have claimed it over the years, including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros to name but a few.

But despite being arguably golf’s most famous prize, the Golf Champion Trophy - its formal name – was not originally awarded to The Open’s winner.

Here’s all you need to know about the Claret Jug.

A close-up of the Claret Jug

Cameron Smith's name is added to the Claret Jug

When was the Claret Jug made?

While golf’s original Championship dates back to 1860, the Claret Jug did not exist until 1872.

When Willie Park Snr became the very first Champion Golfer, he was presented with the Challenge Belt, made of Moroccan leather and embellished with a silver buckle and emblems.

At the time, the rules of The Open stated that the winner “shall always leave the belt with the treasurer of the club…until it becomes the property of the winner by being won three times in succession.”

That eventually happened in 1870, when Young Tom Morris won The 11th Open at Prestwick aged just 19. With no prize to present, the Championship was not held in 1871.

Finally, an agreement was reached in 1872 between The Open’s three host venues – Prestwick, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

They agreed the winner would receive a Gold Medal and each club would contribute £10 to the cost of a new trophy: a silver Claret Jug.

Young Tom became Champion Golfer again in 1872 but, as the Claret Jug was not ready, he was instead awarded a medal inscribed: ‘The Golf Champion Trophy’.

The Claret Jug and the Challenge Belt at St Andrews

The Claret Jug and the Challenge Belt

How big is the Claret Jug? How much does it weigh? What’s it made from?

The original Claret Jug was made by Mackay Cunningham & Company of Edinburgh.

It stands at 20¾ inches tall with its base and 5½ inches in diameter at its widest (the base is 7¼ inches in diameter). It weighs roughly 5½ pounds and is made of 92.5 percent sterling silver.

It is a lesser-known fact that the Claret Jug’s formal name is The Golf Champion Trophy but what is not disputed is its status in world sport.

Tom Kidd, the first competitor to win on his debut since the inaugural Open, was the first to claim the new prize when he triumphed at St Andrews in 1873 – but his is not the first name engraved.

Kidd’s name sits just below that of 1872 Champion Young Tom, who won just as the decision to commission the trophy was being made.


Interesting facts

All responsibility for The Open became solely that of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club in 1920 and seven years later, they made the decision to retain the original Claret Jug on permanent display.

Twenty eight different players held the original Claret Jug as Champion Golfer, including record six-time winner Harry Vardon.

Since then the Champions’ replica has been presented each year - starting with Walter Hagen in 1928 - and stays with him for 12 months until he defends his title.

Sir Nick Faldo admires the Claret Jug

Three-time Champion Golfer Sir Nick Faldo admires the Claret Jug

But while the winners must hand back the permanent Claret Jug, they do receive a full-size replica to keep and can order up to three smaller replicas.

Such is the status of the Claret Jug, it has twice appeared on commemorative £5 Scottish banknotes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland: first in 2004 and then again in 2005.

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