The golfer who wins the British Open retains the championship cup for one year but gets only a half-dollar-sized gold medal to keep for good. When Arnold Palmer won the title he wanted something more and at his own expense had a replica of the cup made. Bobby Jones also has a replica. England's Tony Jacklin, on the other hand, didn't even bother having his name engraved on the trophy, nor did South African Gary Player. Until 1960 the U.S. Golf Association followed the British practice of awarding medals, not trophies, as permanent prizes to its champions. But U.S. golfers complained, and to appease them the USGA began giving trophies to take home.
So for Americans, at least, a trophy is a crowning glory, precious no matter what the metal. And it merits celebration. All who saw it will long remember the wild scene at Oak Hill Country Club two years ago when the U.S. Open trophy lurched and bobbed over the heads of Lee Trevino and his friends as they weaved happily victorious toward the parking lot. Frank Hannigan, a USGA official, was peering anxiously from a clubhouse window. He had, just minutes earlier, solemnly entrusted the cup to the most responsible-looking of Lee's friends. "I am never going to see that trophy again," thought Hannigan. But the following June, Trevino brought the cup back to be played for once more—the 69th time. Great trophies have a way of enduring, of coming back to us as reminders of what is best, and was best.