History Of The US Open Trophy

What's the story behind the famous trophy handed to the winner of the third Major of the year?

The US Open trophy at Pebble Beach in California
The latest US Open trophy has been used for almost 40 years
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the prize for winning one of the four Majors, the US Open trophy is one of the most famous in the game. However, the one you see on TV being handed to the winner at the conclusion of each year's tournament is not the original. 

The USGA commissioned the Gorham Corporation to provide the first trophy way back in 1895, which was made of stirling silver and stood 18 inches tall, but another was needed after that perished in 1946. 

But what happened to the original? Well, the winner that year, Lloyd Mangrum, displayed it at his local clubhouse near Chicago. While it was there, though, the clubhouse went up in flames and took the trophy with it.

After the second trophy, an exact replica, was presented to the USGA in 1947, it was handed to the winner until it was retired in 1986, and it now resides at the USGA Golf Museum in New Jersey. That means when the winner receives the trophy nowadays, he actually takes home the third US Open trophy, which he then keeps for the following 12 months.

At the end of that time, the trophy is returned to the USGA, whereupon the player is given a replica, around 90% of the original's size, which he keeps for good.

As well as that perk of winning the US Open, the player is also awarded the Jack Nicklaus medal during the trophy presentation, a tradition that is a remnant of a practice from the first US Open in 1895. Back then, the winner's club was handed the trophy for the next year, with the champion being awarded a medal.

Like the trophy, the medal didn't have a name, but that all changed in 2012 to honour the four-time US Open winner. At the same time, it was given a standard design featuring Nicklaus' famous golf swing.

At one point, it looked as though the USGA may need to commission a fourth US Open trophy, too. That's because, after Rory McIlroy won the Major in 2011, he made a point of taking it with him to events over the next year, until that plan hit the buffers when it was shipped to China for McIlroy's appearance at the Shanghai Masters.

Rory McIlroy after winning the 2011 US Open

Rory McIlroy ran into issues with the trophy after his 2011 US Open victory

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Instead of being shown off at the tournament, it was impounded by Chinese customs officials, given McIlroy's management company and the USGA the headache of negotiating to get it back.

Thankfully, they managed it, and the US Open trophy was returned in time for the 2012 Major at San Francisco's Olympic Club, and into the grateful hands of its next recipient, Webb Simpson, who had no such dramas during his stewardship of it.

Webb Simpson with the US Open trophy after his win in the 2012 tournament

Webb Simpson won the trophy 11 years ago

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The trophy has been handed to nine more players since Simpson's win, including Matt Fitzpatrick in 2022. Who will be the next to lift one of the most revered prizes in golf after the action draws to a close at Los Angeles Country Club?

Sam Tremlett
Senior Staff Writer

A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly. 

Working with golf gear and equipment over the last six years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes. 

He combines this knowledge with a passion for helping golfers get the best gear for them, and as such Sam manages a team of writers that look to deliver the most accurate and informative reviews and buying advice. This is so the reader can find exactly what they are looking for.

Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website, whilst he is also responsible for all content related to golf apparel. 

He also oversees all Tour player content as well so if you need to know what clubs Tiger or Rory has in play, Sam is the person to ask. 

Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five. 

Sam's What's In The Bag: 

Driver: Titleist TS3 (9 degrees) 

Fairway Wood: Callaway Paradym (15 degrees), Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (19 degrees) 

Irons (4-PW): Titleist AP2 

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 54˚, 58˚ 

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 

Ball: Srixon Z-Star Diamond

Shoes: G/FORE Gallivanter/Nike Air Zoom Infinity NEXT%/Cuater The Ringer/adidas Tour 360 22

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