Story of 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.
But 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.
In 1870, just 10 years after The Open began, Tom Morris Jr won for the third consecutive time and became the owner of the Challenge 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 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 Champion 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 Champion Golfer, who was once again Tom Morris Jr. Instead, he was awarded with a medal inscribed ‘The Golf Champion Trophy’.
The winner of this year’s Championship will receive more than $2m!
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