23 Fun Facts About the Wanamaker Trophy (PGA Championship)

Do you know the name of the PGA Championship trophy? It's right there in our headline: Wanamaker Trophy. Because of its very large size (and the fact it is awarded at a major championship), it is one of the better-known trophies in golf. And it has an amazing history, which we'll tell you about now — including how one of the biggest stars in golf history lost the trophy and kept that fact hidden from the PGA!

1. It's a traditional silver cup with handles and a lid.

2. The cup sits on a base around which are silver bands engraved with the names of all the winners.

3. It's a heavy trophy. At 27 pounds, the Wanamaker Trophy weighs in as one of the heaviest in golf.

4. It's a big trophy. The PGA Championship trophy earns that weigh-in, as it is also one of the largest in golf: 28 inches tall, 27 inches handle-to-handle across.

5. The same company that designed the Heisman Trophy designed the PGA Championhip trophy. The trophy was designed by the New York City company Dieges & Clust, a famous jewelry firm. The company was founded in 1898 and existed until 1980.

6. The trophy's design represents "the fruit of victory." According to the PGA, "The Wanamaker silverpiece features a finial (knob) resembling a cluster of grapes tugging to a vine and leaves spread about the lid that may be the artist's 'fruit of victory.'"

7. The trophy's full name is the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy.

8. The trophy's namesake help found the PGA of America. Rodman Wanamaker was a wealthy department store owner in New York City. Wanamaker helped bring together prominent golf pros for a lunch in 1916 that is remembered as the launching point of the PGA of America.

9. Wanamaker funded the prize pool and the creation of the trophy for the first PGA Championship. The 1916 PGA Championship was the first one, and the Wanamaker Trophy was ready thanks to Wanamaker paying for its creation.

10. The Wanamaker Trophy was modeled after the British PGA Championship trophy. At the time the PGA of America was founded, the British Professional Golfers Association already existed. The British PGA's championship was then known, for sponsorship reasons, as the News of the World Match Play Championship. The Wanamaker Trophy was modeled after (but not identical to) the News of the World Award given to that tournament's winner.

11. Originally, PGA Championship winners took the trophy home for a year. The next year, when the tournament came around again, the defending champion brought the trophy back to the PGA, and it was presented to the new champion.

12. But then Walter Hagen lost the trophy. After winning the 1925 PGA Championship, Hagen put the trophy into the back of a taxi and told the driver to deliver it to Hagen's hotel. Instead, the Wanamaker Trophy disappeared.

13. When Hagen showed up without the trophy to the 1926 PGA Championship, he told the PGA he didn't bring the trophy back because everyone knew he was going to win it again. And he did: Hagen won again in 1926 and 1927, all the while keeping the secret of the missing Wanamaker. The trophy hadn't been seen since the 1925 championship match, but only Hagen knew it was missing.

14. But when Leo Diegel won the 1928 PGA Championship, the gig was up: Hagen admitted to the PGA of America that he'd lost the Wanamaker Trophy. With the Wanamaker missing, the Maryland Cup Trophy (the tournament was played in Maryland that year) was used during the 1928 winner's ceremony as a stand-in for the Wanamaker.

15. A new trophy was created for the 1929 Championship. The PGA hired R. Wallas and Sons, a Connecticut company, to produce a new trophy in time for the next tournaemnt. It was a new design, too, not just a copy of the Wanamaker. And it didn't carry the Wanamaker name. It was simply called the PGA Championship Trophy.

16. Leo Diegel was the first to receive the replacement trophy. At the 1929 PGA Championship, Diegel defeated Johnny Farrell in the finals and received the new trophy.

17. But then the original Wanamaker Trophy showed up again! In 1930, it was stumbled upon, entirely by accident, in a box in the cellar of the Detroit company that manufactured Walter Hagen-branded golf clubs. The story of how it wound up there is one that appears lost to history.

18. The original Wanamaker was presented again beginning in 1931 (Tom Creavy got the real thing during that year's winner's ceremony).

19. The replacement trophy created in 1929 was renamed the Alex Smith Memorial Cup and became the trophy presented to the medalist in the 36-hole, stroke-play qualifying rounds. When regional qualifying replaced the single, stroke-play qualifier in 1956, the Alex Smith trophy was retired.

20. That original trophy still exists but is no longer presented to PGA Championship winners. The original Wanamaker Trophy resides in the PGA Museum of Golf in Florida.

21. Each year, though, the name of the new PGA Championship winner is engraved on one of the metal bands that circle the base of the original trophy.

22. Winners today are presented with a duplicate of the Wanamaker Trophy. The champion gets to keep that duplicate for a year, and returns it to the PGA of America at the next year's tournament. Each winner's name is also engraved on the duplicate Wanamaker Trophy.

23. There is also a smaller version of the Wanamaker Trophy — about 10-percent smaller than the original — that is given to each PGA Championship winner for keeps. Every champ gets to take that slightly smaller replica home for his trophy case.

Related articles:

Golfweek.com. "Things to know about the Wanamaker Trophy," https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/things-to-know-wanamaker-trophy-pga-championship/
Kelley, Brent. "The Wanamaker Trophy: Meet the PGA Championship's Prize," https://www.liveabout.com/what-is-the-name-of-the-pga-championship-trophy-1564656
Mackesey, David. "The PGA Championship’s Lost and Found Wanamaker Trophy Story," PGA.com, https://www.pga.com/story/walter-hagen-and-the-story-of-the-pga-championships-lost-and-found-wanamaker-trophy
PGA of America. PGA Media Guide 2012, the 94th PGA Championship.

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