When Walter Hagen Lost The Wanamaker Trophy

Legendary golfer Walter Hagen had some troubles with the Wanamaker Trophy in the 1920s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Legendary golfer Walter Hagen had some troubles with the Wanamaker Trophy in the 1920s

When Walter Hagen Lost The Wanamaker Trophy

The Wanamaker Trophy, which will be presented to the winner of the 103rd PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, is the biggest and heaviest trophy in Major Championship golf.

It is 28 inches tall, 10 ½ inches in diameter, 27 inches across at the handles, and it weighs 27 pounds.

However, that didn’t stop Walter Hagen losing it in the 1920s.

The great Hagen won the PGA Championship five times, and four times consecutively from 1924 to 1927.

Related: The Best Trophies In Golf

When Hagen won in 1926 he had failed to bring the Wanamaker Trophy to Salisbury Golf Links in New York, and he covered over the embarrassment by claiming he had come to defend his title and had no intention of relinquishing the grand silver cup.

Everyone laughed, as everyone always did at the ‘Haig’s’ jokes.

Hagen was not found out until 1928.

The PGA was a match play tournament in those days, and he lost in the quarter-finals to Leo Diegal, and Diegal would go on to win.

Hagen then had to sheepishly, belatedly admit to having lost it. Diegal must have been reasonably upset.

It is not exactly clear what happened to the trophy, but it seems likely that Hagen lost it amid his celebrations after winning the 1925 PGA Championship at Olympia Fields, Chicago.

Never one to forego a party, Hagen had apparently paid a cabbie $5 to return the Wanamaker Trophy to his hotel while he stopped off at a nightclub.

It is thought the trophy never reached the hotel.

The PGA of America had a duplicate Wanamaker Trophy made, but then in 1930, the original trophy was found in an un-marked box in the basement of L.A. Young & Company in Detroit, the firm that manufactured the Walter Hagen line of golf clubs.

No explanation of how or why the trophy ended up there has ever been uncovered, and the PGA of America retired the original to the safety of its museum in Florida.

At least the original Wanamaker Trophy is still with us, which is more that can be said of the US Open trophy, which has twice been lost in clubhouse fires, the original in 1925 and its replacement in 1946.

The first replica made is the one still presented to the champion each year, and there have been a couple of smaller incidents with it.

For example the Wanamaker Trophy had been left outside in blazing sunshine all afternoon at Dallas Athletic Club in 1963, and was too hot to pick up for eventual winner Jack Nicklaus.

Additionally Collin Morikawa had a blooper moment after he was victorious in 2020. Going to lift the trophy aloft the lid fell off.