Legendary golfer Walter Hagen had some troubles with the Wanamaker Trophy in the 1920s

When Walter Hagen Lost The Wanamaker Trophy

The Wanamaker Trophy, which will be presented to the winner of the 99th USPGA Championship this week, is the biggest and heaviest trophy in major championship golf.

It is 28 inches tall, 10 ½ inches in diameter, 27 inches across at the handles, and it weighs 27 pounds.

That didn’t stop Walter Hagen losing it in the 1920s though.

The great Hagen won the USPGA Championship five times, and four times consecutively from 1924 to 1927.

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When Hagen won in 1926 he had failed to bring the Wanamaker Trophy to Salisbury Golf Links in New York, and he covered over the embarrassment by claiming he had come to defend his title and had no intention of relinquishing the grand silver cup.

Everyone laughed, as everyone always did at the ‘Haig’s’ jokes.

Hagen was not found out until 1928.

The PGA was a match play tournament in those days, and he lost in the quarter-finals to Leo Diegal, and Diegal would go on to win.

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Hagen then had to sheepishly, belatedly admit to having lost it. Diegal must have been reasonably upset.

It is not exactly clear what happened to the trophy, but it seems likely that Hagen lost it amid his celebrations after winning the 1925 PGA Championship at Olympia Fields, Chicago.

Never one to forego a party, Hagen had apparently paid a cabbie $5 to return the Wanamaker Trophy to his hotel while he stopped off at a nightclub.

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It is thought the trophy never reached the hotel.

The PGA of America had a duplicate Wanamaker Trophy made, but then in 1930, the original trophy was found in an un-marked box in the basement of L.A. Young & Company in Detroit, the firm that manufactured the Walter Hagen line of golf clubs.

No explanation of how or why the trophy ended up there has ever been uncovered, and the PGA of America retired the original to the safety of its museum in Florida.

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The first replica made is the one still presented to the champion each year.

At least the original Wanamaker Trophy is still with us, which is more that can be said of the US Open trophy, which has twice been lost in clubhouse fires, the original in 1925 and its replacement in 1946.

With the weather we are enduring at Quail Hollow so far this week, the winner is unlikely to face the danger that nearly injured Jack Nicklaus when he won the PGA Championship at Dallas Athletic Club in 1963; the Wanamaker Trophy had been left outside in blazing sunshine all afternoon, and was too hot to pick-up.