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The Claret Jug: A Look at the Evolution of the Open Championship Trophy

Learn about the history and design of the Claret Jug, the iconic trophy awarded to winners of the Open Championship.

by Jake Tingey & Judd Lyon · Updated: 3/30/23

The Open Championship, one of golf's four major tournaments, is steeped in history and tradition. While the competition itself is a highly anticipated event, it is the iconic Claret Jug that captures the imagination of players and fans alike. As the ultimate prize for the Open Championship winner, the Claret Jug represents the pinnacle of success in the sport of golf. In this article, we will explore the history and significance of the Claret Jug, tracing its origins and evolution over the years.

The Early Years of the Claret Jug

The Claret Jug was first introduced as the trophy for the Open Championship in 1872. It was created by the silversmiths Mackay Cunningham & Company, who were commissioned by the members of the Prestwick Golf Club to design and produce a trophy worthy of the prestigious tournament.

The original design of the Claret Jug featured a simple yet elegant look, with a slender neck and a curved handle that made it easy to hold. The body of the jug was made of silver and was designed to hold claret, a red wine that was popular at the time. The trophy was also adorned with decorative elements, including an engraved band around the neck and a floral pattern around the base.

The first Claret Jug was presented to Tom Morris Jr., the winner of the 1872 Open Championship, at Prestwick Golf Club. Morris was a well-known and respected golfer at the time, having won the championship on several occasions. The presentation of the Claret Jug to Morris marked the beginning of a new tradition that would continue to this day.

Changes to the Design and Presentation of the Claret Jug

The Claret Jug has undergone several changes in its design and presentation since its inception, reflecting the evolving nature of the Open Championship and its champions.

Decorative Elements and Engravings

One of the most significant changes to the Claret Jug over time has been the addition of decorative elements and engravings. The original trophy featured a simple design, with a plain silver body and lid. However, as the tournament grew in popularity and prestige, so too did the trophy. Today, the Claret Jug boasts a more intricate design, with ornate handles, a decorative base, and engravings of the names of past champions.

Change from Red to Green Velvet Lining

Another notable change to the Claret Jug was the switch from red to green velvet lining inside the jug. The original trophy featured a bright red lining, which was later changed to green to better complement the silver color of the trophy. The green lining also added a touch of elegance and sophistication to the trophy, befitting its status as one of golf's most prestigious prizes.

Replica Trophies for Champions

In addition to the Claret Jug, each Open Championship winner is presented with a replica trophy to keep as a permanent reminder of their victory. These replica trophies are made to the exact specifications of the original trophy, ensuring that each champion has a tangible symbol of their achievement. The replica trophies also serve as a way to share the prestige of the Open Championship with family, friends, and fans alike.

Despite these changes over time, the Claret Jug remains one of the most iconic trophies in all of sports, a symbol of excellence and achievement in the world of golf.

Notable Moments in Claret Jug History

Famous Winners and Their Stories

The Claret Jug has been hoisted by some of the most famous names in golfing history, each adding their own unique chapter to the story of the Open Championship. From early champions like Tom Morris Jr. and Harry Vardon to modern-day greats like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the Claret Jug has been a symbol of golfing excellence for over 150 years.

One of the most memorable wins came in 1953, when Ben Hogan claimed the title just 16 months after a near-fatal car accident. His victory was a testament to his incredible willpower and determination, and the Claret Jug remains one of his most treasured possessions.

Another notable winner was Tom Watson, who claimed the trophy five times between 1975 and 1983. His historic victory over Jack Nicklaus in the "Duel in the Sun" at Turnberry in 1977 is still talked about today, and the Claret Jug serves as a reminder of his remarkable career.

The Impact of the Claret Jug on Golfing Culture and History

The Claret Jug is more than just a trophy; it is a symbol of golfing tradition and excellence. Its rich history and enduring legacy have cemented its place as one of the most recognizable and prestigious trophies in all of sports.

The Claret Jug has also contributed to the growth and popularity of the Open Championship, helping to establish it as one of golf's premier events. Its iconic design and unique features make it instantly recognizable to golf fans around the world, and its presence at the tournament adds to the allure and mystique of the event.

The Significance of the Trophy in the World of Sports

The Claret Jug is not only an important symbol of golfing excellence, but it is also an iconic piece of sports memorabilia. Its rarity and historical significance have made it highly sought after by collectors and fans alike, and it has fetched high prices at auction in recent years.

In 2019, the Claret Jug won the Laureus World Sports Award for Best Sporting Moment, further cementing its place in the pantheon of sports history. Its impact on the world of sports is immeasurable, and it remains one of the most cherished and beloved trophies in all of sports.

The Modern Claret Jug

The current design of the Claret Jug, first awarded in 1872, has evolved over the years, but it still retains its traditional charm. Today's trophy stands at 20.75 inches tall, weighs 9.37 pounds, and is made of sterling silver. It is supported by a silver base, which is inscribed with the names of past champions.

Design and Manufacturing

The current Claret Jug is made using the lost-wax casting method, a process that involves creating a wax replica of the trophy, casting it in plaster, and then using it to create a silver version of the trophy. The trophy is then engraved by hand, with the names of past champions and other details added to the design.

The jug features a unique shape, with a narrow neck and a wide base that widens towards the top. The jug's lid is made of gold and features a small golf ball on top.


The Claret Jug remains one of the most prized trophies in sports, with its rich history and tradition adding to its value. For Open champions, winning the trophy is a career-defining moment that cements their place in golfing history. The trophy has also become a symbol of the Open Championship, with its unique design and rich history capturing the imagination of golfers and fans alike.

As the Open Championship continues to evolve, the Claret Jug remains a cherished and beloved part of the tournament's rich history. Its timeless design, traditional charm, and significance to the world of golf make it a true icon of the sport.

The Claret Jug in Popular Culture

The Claret Jug has transcended the world of sports and become an iconic symbol of excellence, victory, and prestige. The trophy's unique design and rich history have captured the imagination of golfers and fans around the world, making it a beloved and sought-after prize. The Claret Jug has been featured in a number of films and television shows, including the 2000 movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and the British TV series "The Crown."

In addition to its presence in popular culture, the Claret Jug has also had a significant impact on golfing traditions and ceremonies. The presentation of the trophy to the Open Champion is a highly anticipated and revered event, with the winner's name forever etched into the trophy's history. The Claret Jug has also inspired the creation of other prestigious trophies in golf, such as the Ryder Cup and the FedEx Cup.

The enduring appeal and legacy of the Claret Jug are a testament to its timeless significance in the world of golf. As the sport continues to evolve and new champions emerge, the Claret Jug remains a coveted prize, symbolizing the ultimate achievement in the world of competitive golf. Its influence will undoubtedly be felt for generations to come, cementing its place as one of the most iconic trophies in all of sports.


The Claret Jug is a timeless symbol of excellence and prestige in the world of golf, embodying the passion, dedication, and skill of the world's finest golfers. From its origins as a simple silver prize to its current status as one of the most iconic trophies in all of sports, the Claret Jug has undergone a remarkable evolution, reflecting the growth and evolution of the Open Championship itself.

Despite the changes and challenges of the modern era, the Claret Jug remains an enduring symbol of golfing history, culture, and tradition, inspiring new generations of golfers and fans with its timeless appeal and legacy. The Open Championship and the Claret Jug continue to capture the imagination of sports enthusiasts worldwide and will undoubtedly do so for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions and answers related to the Claret Jug, the iconic trophy awarded to the winner of the Open Championship.

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