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The Claret Jug
The Claret Jug, or to use its proper name, the Golf Champion Trophy, is presented to each year’s winner of The Open. Yet it is not the original prize. When the Championship began at Prestwick in 1860, the winner was presented with the Challenge Belt, made of rich Moroccan leather, embellished with a silver buckle and emblems.
The Challenge Belt
The impetus to provide the Challenge Belt had come from the Earl of Eglinton and derived from his keen interest in medieval pageantry. He was pre-eminent in encouraging sport throughout the social spectrum and was a leading light in setting up The Open Championship. The Earl donated many trophies for competition, including a gold belt for competition among the Irvine Archers. The original Challenge Belt was purchased by the members of Prestwick Golf Club.
According to the first rule of the new golf competition: “The party winning the belt shall always leave the belt with the treasurer of the club until he produces a guarantee to the satisfaction of the above committee that the belt shall be safely kept and laid on the table at the next meeting to compete for it until it becomes the property of the winner by being won three times in succession.
A Brief History
1860 – The first Open takes place at Prestwick Golf Club. Winner presented with the Challenge Belt.
1872 – Three clubs to host The Open contribute £10 each towards a new trophy – a silver claret jug. The 1872 winner received a medal.
1873 – The Golf Champion Trophy is made by Mackay Cunningham & Company. Tom Kidd was the first Champion to receive the new Claret Jug but the 1872 winner, Tom Morris Junior, was the first name engraved on it.
1927 – Agreement to retain the original Claret Jug and present future Champions with a replica.
The search for a new trophy – the Silver Claret Jug
In 1870, just 10 years after The Open Championship began, Tom Morris Junior won for the third consecutive time and became the owner of the belt. The future direction of the Championship was discussed at Prestwick Golf Club’s Spring Meeting in April 1871, during which a key proposal was put forward by Gilbert Mitchell Innes: “In contemplation of St Andrews, Musselburgh and other clubs joining in the purchase of a Belt to be played for over four or more greens it is not expedient for the club to provide a Belt to be played for solely at Prestwick.”
The motion was passed, but no final decisions were reached about venues or the involvement of other clubs, with the result that The Open Championship was not played in 1871. Moves to revive the competition resumed the following year. The minutes of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, dated May 1, state that the green committee had been “empowered to enter into communication with other clubs with a view to effecting a revival of the Championship Belt, and they were authorised to contribute a sum not exceeding £15 from the funds of the club”.
Agreement was finally reached on September 11, 1872 between the three clubs that were to host The Open — Prestwick, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. They decided that the winner would receive a medal and that each of the three clubs would contribute £10 towards the cost of a new trophy, which was to be a silver claret jug, instead of another belt. Its proper name was to be The Golf Champion Trophy. These decisions were taken too late for the trophy to be presented to the 1872 Open Champion, who was once again Tom Morris Junior. Instead, he was awarded with a medal inscribed ‘The Golf Champion Trophy’.
The Golf Champion Trophy
The Golf Champion Trophy, now commonly referred to as the Claret Jug, was made by Mackay Cunningham & Company of Edinburgh and was hallmarked 1873. The first Open Champion to receive the new trophy was the 1873 winner, Tom Kidd, but Tom Morris Junior’s name was the first to be engraved on it as the 1872 winner.
In 1920 all responsibility for The Open Championship was handed over to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Following the 1927 Open, which was won at St Andrews by Bobby Jones, the club’s Championship Committee took the decision to retain the Claret Jug in future years and to present the winner with a replica. In 1928, Walter Hagen won the third of his four Open titles and accepted the replica Claret Jug, having already been presented with the original in 1922 and 1924. During the half-century in which the original Claret Jug was used, twenty-eight different players held it aloft, including Harry Vardon on a record six occasions.
The first time a medal was given to the winner was in 1872, when no trophy was available. Unlike the Claret Jug, which must be returned in time for the next Championship, the Gold Medal is kept by the winner. The early Gold Medals, which in fact were silver gilt, were large ovals with a central design of a shield and crossed clubs. Around the edge was the inscription ‘Golf Champion Trophy’. During the late 1880s and early 1890s, the design of the medal underwent several changes. The circular medal was first introduced in 1893 and the basic size and shape has not changed since then.
That same year, the medal was assigned a value of £10 and this was deducted from the advertised purse for the winner. In 1920, the value of the winner’s medal was increased to £25 and again deducted from his share of the prize fund. This practice stopped after the 1929 Open Championship and from 1930 onwards, the winner no longer had to ‘pay’ for his medal.
The Leading Amateur
It had been suggested as early as 1922 that some recognition should be given to the leading amateur in The Open, but it was not until 1949 that a silver medal of the same size and design as the winner’s medal, was presented. It bore the inscription ‘Golf Champion Trophy’, with the addition of the words ‘First Amateur’. Frank Stranahan of the United States was the first to receive the silver medal and he went on to win it again in 1950, 1951 and 1953.
From 1972 all amateurs, other than the leading amateur, who have played on the final day of The Open Championship, have received a bronze medal.
We lost one of the greats this week with the passing of “The King” Arnold Palmer, truly a sad time for all golf fans.
By Adam Schupak
Arnold Palmer, a seven-time major winner who brought golf to the masses and became the most beloved figure in the game, died Sunday in Pittsburgh from heart complications. He was 87.
Palmer, a native of Latrobe, Pa., had been admitted to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he was scheduled to have heart surgery Monday, according to thePittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Reaction poured in from “Arnie’s Army” of admirers in the world of golf.
“We loved him with a mythic American joy,” said Palmer biographer James Dodson. “He represented everything that is great about golf. The friendship, the fellowship, the laughter, the impossibility of golf, the sudden rapture moment that brings you back, a moment that you never forget, that’s Arnold Palmer in spades. He’s the defining figure in golf.”
No one did more to popularize the sport than Palmer. His dashing presence singlehandedly took golf out of the country clubs and into the mainstream. Quite simply, he made golf cool.
“I used to hear cheers go up from the crowd around Palmer,” Lee Trevino said. “And I never knew whether he’d made a birdie or just hitched up his pants.”
Golfweek subscriber Bob Conn of Guilford, Conn., in a letter to the editor, captured the loyalty and devotion that the public felt for Palmer.
“If Arnold Palmer sent me a personal letter asking me to join the cleanup crew at Bay Hill, I would buy a green jumpsuit, stick a nail in a broom handle, grab some Hefty garbage bags and shake his hand when I arrived.”
It wasn’t just the fans. His fellow competitors revered him, and the next generation and the generation after that worshipped him. When reporters at the 1954 U.S. Amateur asked Gene Littler to identify the golfer as slender as wire and as strong as cable cracking balls on the practice tee, Littler said: “That’s Arnold Palmer. He’s going to be a great player some day. When he hits the ball, the earth shakes.”
Palmer attended Wake Forest on a golf scholarship. At age 24, he was selling paint and living in Cleveland, just seven months removed from a three-year stint in the Coast Guard, when he entered the national sporting consciousness by winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit.
“That victory was the turning point in my life,” he said. “It gave me confidence I could compete at the highest level of the game.”
Palmer’s victory set in motion a chain of events. Instead of returning to selling paint, Palmer played the next week in the Waite Memorial in Shawnee-on-Delaware, Pa., where he met Winifred Walzer, who would become his wife of 45 years until her death in 1999. On Nov. 17, 1954, Palmer announced his intentions to turn pro, and golf would never be the same.
In his heyday, Palmer famously swung as if he were coming out of his shoes.
“What other people find in poetry, I find in the flight of a good drive,” Palmer said.
He unleashed his corkscrew-swing motion, which produced a piercing draw, with the ferocity of a summer squall. In his inimitable swashbuckling style, Palmer succeeded with both power and putter. In a career that spanned more than six decades, he won 62 PGA Tour titles from 1955 to 1973, placing him fifth on the Tour’s all-time victory list. He collected seven major titles in a six-plus-year explosion, from the 1958 Masters to the 1964 Masters.
Palmer didn’t lay up or leave putts short. His go-for-broke style meant he played out of the woods and ditches with equal abandon, and resulted in a string of memorable charges. At the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills near Denver, Palmer drove the first green and with his trademark knock-kneed, pigeon-toed putting stance went out and birdied six of the first seven holes en route to shooting 65 and winning the title in a furious comeback.
“Palmer on a golf course was Jack Dempsey with his man on the ropes, Henry Aaron with a three-and-two fastball, Rod Laver at set point, Joe Montana with a minute to play, A.J. Foyt with a lap to go and a car to catch,” wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray.
Even Palmer’s setbacks were epic. He double-bogeyed the 18th hole at Augusta in the 1961 Masters after accepting congratulations from a spectator whom he knew in the gallery. Palmer lost playoffs in three U.S. Opens, the first to Jack Nicklaus in 1962; the second to Julius Boros in 1963; and the third to Billy Casper in 1966 in heart-breaking fashion. Palmer blew a seven-stroke lead with nine holes to go in regulation at Olympic Club and lost to Casper in an 18-hole playoff the next day.
Arnold Daniel Palmer, born Sept. 10, 1929, grew up in the working-class mill town of Latrobe, in a two-story frame house off the sixth tee of Latrobe Country Club, where his father, Milfred “Deacon” Palmer, was the greenskeeper and professional.
Though for decades Palmer made his winter home in Orlando, Fla., he never lost touch with his western Pennsylvania roots in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.
“Of all the places I’ve been, there isn’t any place that I’m more comfortable than I am right here,” he told Golfweek in 2009 in Latrobe ahead of his 80th birthday.
Palmer was 3 years old when his father wrapped his hands around a cut-down women’s golf club in the classic overlapping Vardon grip, and instructed him to, “Hit it hard, boy. Go find it and hit it hard again.”
Palmer’s combination of matinee-idol looks, charisma and blue-collar background made him a superstar just as golf ushered in the television era. He became Madison Avenue’s favorite pitchman, accepting an array of endorsement deals that generated millions of dollars in income on everything from licensed sportswear to tractors to motor oil and even Japanese tearooms. Credit goes to agent Mark McCormack, who sold the Palmer personality and the values he represented rather than his status as a tournament winner. Palmer’s business empire grew to include a course-design company, a chain of dry cleaners, car dealerships, as well as ownership of Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando. He even bought Latrobe Country Club, which his father helped build with his own hands and where as a youth Palmer was permitted only before the members arrived in the morning or after they had gone home in the evening. Palmer designed more than 300 golf courses in 37 states, 25 countries and five continents (all except Africa and Antarctica), including the first modern course built in China, in 1988.
Palmer led the PGA Tour money list four times, and was the first player to win more than $100,000 in a season. He played on six Ryder Cup teams, and was the winning captain twice. He is credited with conceiving the modern Grand Slam of the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship during a conversation with golf writer Bob Drum on a flight to Ireland for the 1960 Canada Cup. Palmer won the Masters four times, the British Open twice and the U.S. Open once.
It was Palmer who convinced his colleagues that they could never consider themselves champions unless they had won the Claret Jug. Nick Faldo, during Palmer’s farewell at St. Andrews in 1995, may have put it best when he said, “If Arnold hadn’t come here in 1960, we’d probably all be in a shed on the beach.” Mark O’Meara went a step further. “He made it possible for all of us to make a living in this game,” he said.
In 1974, Palmer was one of the original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame. As he grew older, Palmer was let down by a shaky putter, but his popularity never waned. The nascent Senior PGA Tour hitched its star to golf’s first telegenic personality when Palmer turned 50. He relished winning again and became a regular on the senior circuit, remaining active until 2006.
John Daly, as he prepares to embark on his second golf career, can’t help but wonder how much more successful his PGA Tour run could have been had he possessed a sounder body and mind in his glory days.
Daly, who turned 50 on April 28, reflected during a teleconference ahead of his Champions Tour debut this week at the Insperity Invitational on how he might have bettered his five-win, two-major PGA Tour career.
“I’m kind of satisfied with everything in the 2000s. My mind was right, and I did everything I could to try and win golf tournaments,” said Daly, whose last PGA Tour win came in 2004 at the Buick Invitational.
It was the decade before, though, when Daly made his mark, improbably capturing the PGA Championship in 1991, the 1995 Open Championship, and two more titles in between. Back then, he was the longest hitter on tour, slamming balls more than 300 yards when such distances were considered novelties, and a blue-collar hero to many fans who never stopped cheering him on despite his many missteps inside the ropes and out.
His personal life, which included four wives, allegations of domestic violence, gambling problems, and substance abuse, was so out of control that fellow golfer Fuzzy Zoeller bet him $150,000 he would not live to see 50. Daly joked that he would take his winnings in Fuzzy’s Vodka.
On the course, Daly accumulated huge numbers, like the 18 he carded on the sixth hole of the 1998 Bay Hill Invitational and the 11 citations for behavior “unbecoming a professional,” as ESPN.com’s Bob Harig noted.
Those incidents, plus the many injuries that have plagued him through the years, were likely what Daly had in mind when he lamented his lost opportunities.
“I wish I would have had the mental attitude back in the ’90s like I do now,” said Daly, who credited his fifth wife, Anna Cladakis, with stabilizing his life. “I think I wasted my talent in the ’90s, especially towards the later part of the ’90s. All the money was coming in, and I didn’t work hard enough at it. I didn’t do the right things to prepare myself to win golf tournaments. You know, that’s definitely on me, and I admit that … I think my mental attitude is 10 times better than it was in the ‘90s.”
Daly lost his PGA Tour card in 2007 and has gotten by on exemptions from sponsors who recognize that the man is still a powerful draw. As the Champions Tour awaits, Daly acknowledged that his game was not where he wanted it to be and that he was relying on a steady schedule to whip it into shape.
“It’s just going to be a confidence builder as the weeks go on because I’m pretty rusty right now not playing a lot of golf in the last nine months,” he said.
The Champions Tour’s 54-hole, no-cut events could be just what Daly needs to revitalize his once-promising career.
“Growing up, I didn’t have anybody coaching me on how to manage a golf course and definitely how to manage my life,” he said. “Right now I’m in a great place, and I just wish I had the physical ability now that I had in the ’90s. It would be probably a lot more fun.”
Well Brandon is never one to hold back. Here he is telling it like it is according to him. IM not sure but I think there are a few people pout there that dissagree….Read more…
Who is the best golfer of all time?
In an upcoming “Golf Central” special celebrating Tiger Woods’ 40th birthday, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said that he would pick Woods over Jack Nicklaus.
“Longevity sanctifies an idea, a career, a relationship, a government,” Chamblee said. “In that regard, Jack Nicklaus’ career was so long – won major championships over 24 years, spanned three generations – but Tiger Woods dominated in a way that had never been done before, and will never be done again. So I think, at least in my estimation, that you’d have to give the edge to Tiger Woods as the greatest player of all time.”
Source: Golf Channel