Origins of the Open's Claret Jug

The Claret Jug - awarded to the winner of the Open Championship - is an iconic sports trophy, but what is its background, and how did it come to be?

Claret Jug Clarke
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The winner of the Open Championship is awarded one of the most famous trophies in sport, but why is it called the Claret Jug, and what is its history?

The jug - whose official name is the Championship Cup - is named after claret, a dry red wine produced in the famous French region of Bordeaux.

The British Open trophy was made in the style of silver jugs used to serve claret at 19th century gatherings.

The winner of the Open hasn't always received the Claret Jug, however. The first few winners were given a belt, or 'challenger belt', as it was labelled at the time.

The tradition started at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860, the first time the Open was contested.

Prestwick hosted each of the first 11 Open Championships, but its rules stated the belt would become the permanent property of anyone winning the tournament three years in a row.

When Tom Morris won in 1870 for the third consecutive year, he walked off with the belt, and the Open no longer had any trophy to award.

Prestwick club members came up with the idea of subsequently sharing the Open with St Andrews and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh golfers, who would all contribute an equal share towards creating a new trophy.

Whilst the clubs deliberated, 1871 came and went without the Open being played. The trophy was still being commissioned when Tom Morris won in 1872, leaving 1873 victor Tom Kidd as the first golfer to be awarded the Claret Jug.

Nick Bonfield
Nick Bonfield

Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel with The Masters and USPGA respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email nick.bonfield@futurenet.com with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x