The Havemeyer Trophy for U.S. Amateur Champ Has a Most Interesting History

Havemeyer Trophy given to US Amateur winner
What's the name of the trophy awarded to the U.S. Amateur Championship winner? It's the Havemeyer Trophy, one of the most-coveted trophies in amateur golf. And it has one of the most interesting histories of any golf trophy, a history that includes fire, destruction, theft, breakage ... and even a stand-in borrowed from Jack Nicklaus' trophy case.

The trophy that exists today is actually a replica of a replacement. The replica is given each year to the winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, which is staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

A few key points about it:

  • The Havemeyer Trophy is the only gold trophy awarded by the United States Golf Association (UGSA), all the others being silver. And the Havemeyer Trophy itself began as a silver trophy, but more on that in a minute.
  • The original Havemeyer Trophy was presented by the USGA from 1895 through 1925, when it was destroyed in a fire.
  • A replacement, a newly designed Havemeyer Trophy, has been used by the USGA since 1926 — although the original of that version is also now gone.
  • Two golfers won both versions of the trophy: Francis Ouimet won the original in 1914 and the replacement in 1931; Bobby Jones won the original in 1924 and 1925, and the replacement in 1928 and 1930.

Who Is the Havemeyer Trophy Named After?

The namesake of the U.S. Amateur trophy is Theodore A. Havemeyer, a businessman who got rich in the sugar trade (specifically as a co-founder of the American Sugar Refining Company).

He also happened to be the first president of the USGA, which was founded in 1894, and the co-founder of Newport Country Club, site of the first U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open tournaments in 1895.

In 1894, Havemeyer gave the money for the creation of a trophy for the U.S. Amateur. A photo of the original trophy is at the bottom of this article.

Original Havemeyer Trophy Destroyed, New Trophy Created

The original Havemeyer Trophy was first presented to C.B. Macdonald after Macdonald's win in the inaugural U.S. Amateur in 1895. That original trophy was a highly ornate, silver trophy with a wide cup at the top made by a Philadelphia company named J.E. Caldwell and Company.

In those days, the trophy — the original, not a replica — stayed with the winner for a year, then passed to the next champion. In 1925, the winner was Bobby Jones, so Jones took the trophy home to Atlanta and displayed it at East Lake Country Club.

On Nov. 22, 1925, the East Lake Country Club clubhouse went up in flames, and that original, ornate silver Havemeyer Trophy was destroyed in the fire. Rather than commission a copy of the original, the USGA decided to come up with a whole new design for the replacement trophy.

The new Havemeyer Trophy was ready for the 1926 U.S. Amateur, and its first recipient was George Von Elm. In addition to switching from silver to gold, the USGA's new U.S. Amateur trophy also had a tall, steeple cup at the top, much narrower than the original silver cup. And it had an extended base, which allowed for more engraving of all the names of the winners to come.

Trophy Breaks and Is Retired, Duplicates Given to Champs

At the 1992 U.S. Amateur Championship, USGA officials discovered upon opening its shipping container that the Havemeyer Trophy was damaged: It had snapped at the neck.

The USGA officials did some quick thinking. That year's tournament was played at Muirfield Village in Ohio, Jack Nicklaus' course. Nicklaus won a pair of U.S. Amateurs, and his trophy case included duplicates of the Havemeyer Trophy.

When Justin Leonard won that U.S. Amateur, the trophy he was presented in the ceremony was actually one of Jack Nicklaus' duplicate Havemeyers. (Leonard eventually got his own replica.)

At that point, the USGA decided to retire the repaired, original, 1926 Havemeyer Trophy to the USGA Museum and Library in Far Hills, New Jersey. From that point forward, the trophy presented to the champion during the presentation ceremony has been a replica.

The USGA also decided in 1995 to create a duplicate of the original, silver Havemeyer Trophy for display at its museum. No design plans of the original existed, however, so Garrard, the crown jewelers of Britain, worked from old photographs to create the replica of the original.

At that point, the USGA had two Havemeyer Trophies on display at its museum in New Jersey: a replica of the 1895 original, plus the repaired original version of the 1926 replacement trophy. A second copy of the original silver trophy was also made and is on display at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Havemeyer Trophy Stolen from USGA

Speaking of the USGA Museum and Library, in May 2012 thieves broke into it and stole various memorabilia ... including the gold, 1926 Havemeyer Trophy.

That stolen trophy has never been recovered. Each year, however, a replica of the 1926 trophy is still presented to the winner of the United States Amateur Championship. The champ keeps it for one year before returning it to the USGA, which then awards it to the next champion.

So today, the USGA has a 1996-vintage copy of the original, silver Havemeyer Trophy. But its 1926 gold, replacement Havemeyer Trophy remains missing. And U.S. Amateur winners receive a replica of the 1926 trophy.

Walter Travis with the original Havemeyer Trophy
Photo credits:
Top photo: Havemeyer Trophy by Olympia Fields Country Club via twitter.com/OFCCClubhouse
Bottom photo: Walter Travis with the original Havemeyer Trophy, public domain

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