US Open Trophy: What's It Called, How Old Is It, Does Champ Keep It?

Plus More History and Trivia About the USGA's Top Trophy

The US Open trophy held by 2015 winner Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth admires the US Open trophy after winning it in 2015. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

The trophy presented to the winner of the U.S. Open golf tournament is one of the most desirable in golf. Earning it means winning the second-oldest of golf's professional major championships, and it means winning what is, by acclimation, the toughest of those golf majors.

The Name of the US Open Trophy

Every sport has some famous trophies, known by name. Golf has the Claret Jug (British Open), Wanamaker Trophy (PGA Championship) and the Ryder Cup's ... Ryder Cup.

What is the name of the U.S. Open trophy? Just that: U.S. Open Championship Trophy. In other words, the U.S. Open trophy has never been named, it's simply called what it is.

Size and Shape of the US Open Golf Trophy

The U.S. Open trophy has two handles on the side of a silver jug, atop a silver base. That's sterling silver, by the way. And the size?

  • The trophy is 18 inches high and six inches in diameter.
  • It weighs approximately 8.5 pounds.

On one side of the trophy is an engraving of the words "United States Golf Association Open Championship." Below that, an engraved laurel wreath surrounds a scene showing four golfers.

The lid of the trophy is topped by a winged, female figure representing Victory. (Victoria, the Goddess of Victory, raises a wreath aloft with one of her hands.)

Names of the winners are engraved in block type around the base. The new winner's name is engraved immediately after the conclusion of the tournament, and that new champion even gets to watch the engraving. The winner gets to choose how his name is engraved (for example, first and last name only, full name including middle, nickname rather than given name).

What if the trophy runs out of room for adding new winners? No worries—the base on today's trophy was added in order to expand the available room for engraving the names of new champions. When the current base is filled up, another base will be added below.

How Old Is the US Open Trophy?

The current trophy dates to 1947, when it was first presented by the USGA. The current model is a replica of the original U.S. Open trophy that dated to the first tournament in 1895 and was created by the Gorham Company.

Gorham is an American company that dates to 1831 and is still around today. If you've ever watched the PBS series Antiques Roadshow, you know that Gorham silver is highly sought after by collectors, in addition to golfers.

The Original US Open Trophy Was Destroyed by Fire

Lloyd Mangrum, winner of the 1946 U.S. Open, took the original home after that victory and displayed it in the clubhouse of his home course, Tam O'Shanter, near Chicago. Then that clubhouse went up in flames. The original U.S. Open trophy—the one created for the first tournament in 1895—was destroyed in that fire at the Tam O'Shanter clubhouse in 1946.

The fire at Tam O'Shanter's clubhouse wasn't the first time the original U.S. Open trophy had been imperiled. At the 1898 U.S. Open, the winner was Fred Herd. And Herd had a reputation as a heavy drinker. The USGA was so worried about letting him take the trophy home that it required him to put down a cash deposit on it. They thought he might pawn it for drinking money! (True story. And Herd didn't do that.)

Do US Open Winners Today Get to Take the Trophy Home?

Yes. The winner of the tournament takes possession of the U.S. Open Championship Trophy for one year, and returns it to the USGA at the following year's tournament. (Unless the defending champ wins again.) The winner also receives the Jack Nicklaus Medal, a gold medal for the golfer to keep permanently.

Winners who want their own replica of the trophy to keep can buy one from the silversmith company used by the USGA. The replica is slightly smaller—90-percent the size of the permanent trophy. Golf courses that host the tournament can also order a replica, if so desired. But winning golfers and host courses are limited to one replica each.