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The history of the Claret Jug, the trophy given to the winner of the Open Championship

It’s less than two feet tall, and cost £30 to create. But it might be the most valuable piece of hardware in all of golf.

A view of the Claret Jug on the 1st tee during Day One of The 150th Open Championship at The Old Course, on July 14, 2022, in St Andrews, Scotland. Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: You don’t actually get the original Claret Jug when you win The Open. The original has sat in the clubhouse at St Andrews since 1928, and the winner holds up a replica upon victory. It’s the same replica that’s been used since 1928, but it’s not the original. That’s in a case here.

The Champion Golfer of the Year then takes that replica around the world for a year, and returns it to the R&A at next year’s Open. Here’s Collin Morikawa doing so before the 2022 Open at St Andrews.

Then that is exchanged for another replica that they can keep. So there’s a lot of Claret Jugs out there, and this isn’t like the Stanley Cup which has the original bowl on top, with names and rings being added each year.

Plus there’s a couple replicas created for promotional events by the R&A. So it’s not quite the “piece of metal” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred uses to describe the ultimate prize in his sport, but it’s not exactly The Ark of the Golf Covenant either.

The Claret Jug is 20¾ inches tall and weighs 5.5 pounds. It was created when Prestwick Golf Club (which was home to the first 10 Opens) cast their lot with the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, who agreed to rotate the event every three years.

Each of the three groups posted £10 to create a trophy. It’s not named for the color claret, but the Bordeaux-style red wine instead. And thus it’s a jug you can (and should!) drink from. But be aware it’s a jug lots and lots and lots of people will drink from. We’d suggest some anti-bacterial something before imbibing.

There was no Open in 1871 as the clubs agreed on the new format, while While Young Tom Morris won the event for the fourth time in a row 1872. But he wasn’t actually awarded the trophy because it wasn’t ready yet. So Tom Kidd was the first to be awarded the jug in 1873, and neither Old Tom Morris (also a four-time winner) or Young Tom Morris ever actually was presented the Claret Jug.

The Open winner also receives a gold medal that looks like this with their name on it. But being called the Champion Golfer of the Year for the rest of their lives might be the biggest prize of all.