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CHAMPIONSHIPS
Top 9 U.S. Amateur Artifacts in USGA Museum August 9, 2020 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By Kylie Garabed, USGA

The original Havemeyer Trophy given to the U.S. Amateur champion was lost in a 1925 fire at East Lake Golf Club. (USGA Museum)

U.S. Amateur Home

The U.S. Amateur is the oldest and most prestigious championship in this country, having started in 1895 at Newport (R.I.) Country Club and contested annually since except for the years in the country was involved in World Wars I and II. Throughout its 125-year history, the championship has tested the game’s greatest players while also offering a platform to showcase up and coming stars. Many U.S. Amateur champions such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have gone on to stardom in the professional game.

The USGA Golf Museum proudly celebrates this championship’s important history through the preservation of artifacts, library materials, footage and photographs. 

Here is our list of nine favorite U.S. Amateur artifacts within the USGA Golf Museum’s world-class collection.

Havemeyer Trophy, 1895 U.S. Amateur (Replica)

Charles B. Macdonald was awarded this ornate sterling silver trophy, donated by the USGA’s first president Theodore Havemeyer, upon winning the inaugural U.S. Amateur in 1895 at Newport (R.I.) Country Club. When Robert T. Jones Jr. won the 1925 U.S. Amateur, he brought the trophy to his home club, East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. It remained on display until November 22, 1925 when a fire ravaged the clubhouse and destroyed the trophy.

After this tragedy, the USGA selected a new design for the U.S. Amateur trophy that has been awarded since 1926. In 1995, the USGA created a replica of the original Havemeyer Trophy as part of a larger effort to replicate and retire the original championship trophies for preservation purposes. As no drawings or specifications existed, the replica of the Havemeyer Trophy was created using photographs of the original as a guide, including one of Bob Jones to assist with scale and proportions.  

A look at the mid-iron used by future USGA president Findlay Douglas to win the 1898 U.S. Amateur. (USGA Museum)

Findlay Douglas’s Mid-iron, 1898 U.S. Amateur

Born in St Andrews, Findlay Douglas was one of many Scottish immigrants whose talent and expertise were invaluable to the growth of the game in America. Douglas advanced to the semifinals in his first U.S. Amateur appearance in 1897. A year later at Morris County Golf Club in Morristown, N.J., Douglas won the championship.

Douglas’ runner-up finishes in 1900 and 1901 solidified his place as a dominating presence during the earliest years of the championship. Douglas continued to make a lasting impact on the game even after his winning years were over, serving as president of the USGA and the United States Senior Golf Association. He also was an ambassador between America and The R&A. Douglas set an example for future generations of a lifelong amateur player devoted to bettering the game. 

Medals won by four-time U.S. Amateur champion Jerry Travers were donated to the USGA Museum in 1956. (USGA Museum)

Jerry Travers’ Medals

Jerry Travers was highly respected by both fans and fellow golfers during his heyday. Between 1906 and 1915, Travers won four U.S. Amateurs, five Metropolitan Golf Association Amateurs and one U.S. Open. Only Jones has won more U.S. Amateur titles.

Three of these medals were found in a safe deposit box that belonged to Frederick Gwinn, a friend of Travers who helped him through his financial hardships. According to the note found in the box, Travers gifted his 1912 and 1913 U.S. Amateur medals, and his 1915 U.S. Open medal, to Gwinn as a thank you for his generosity. These medals were donated to the USGA Golf Museum in 1956 by Gwinn’s son, William. 

Garden City (N.Y.) Golf Club donated the USGA medals won by Walter Travis. (USGA Museum)

Walter Travis’ Medal, 1903 U.S. Amateur Championship

Walter Travis won his first golf tournament not long after he first took up the game at age 35. Four years later, he claimed the first of three U.S. Amateur titles in 1900. He would successfully defend in 1901 and register another championship in 1903. Travis dominated the national championship scene in the first decades of the 20th century, even garnering low-amateur honors at the U.S. Open five times between 1902 and 1912.

Included in the USGA Museum’s collection are all three of Travis’ gold champion’s medals from his U.S. Amateur victories and three of his semi-finalist medals. Travis’ medal from the 1903 U.S. Amateur was donated to the museum in 1987 by the Garden City (N.Y.) Golf Club, one of the many clubs that Travis designed during his illustrious career as a golf course architect.

The gold medal won by Francis Ouimet in the 1914 U.S. Amateur, a year after his stunning U.S. Open upset. (USGA Museum)

Francis Ouimet’s Medal, 1914 U.S. Amateur 

Francis Ouimet is best remembered for his triumphant victory over British golf stars Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. But it was Ouimet’s victory in the 1914 U.S. Amateur that he considered his crowning achievement.

Ouimet once said, “Winning the Open was one thing – the winning of the Amateur was the fulfillment of an ambition.” Ouimet defeated four-time champion and defending champion Jerry Travers, at Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester, Vt. Following this win, Ouimet competed in nearly every U.S. Amateur until 1940, reaching the semifinals a total of five times before being eliminated by Jones on three occasions. Ouimet won the U.S. Amateur championship again in 1931, and still holds the record for the greatest number of years between U.S. Amateur titles. 

Bob Jones' golf ball used to complete the Grand Slam in 1930 at Merion Golf Club. (USGA Museum)

Robert T. Jones Jr.’s Golf Ball, 1930 U.S. Amateur

Robert T. Jones Jr. is without a doubt the most significant amateur player in golf history. He won 13 of the 27 national championships he played, including four U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three British Opens, and one British Amateur.

His greatest achievement – and the greatest achievement in amateur golf history – culminated at the 1930 U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. Jones holed his final putt with this Spalding Dot golf ball, becoming the first and last player to complete the Grand Slam, which at the time included the U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur.  Jones then promptly retired from competitive golf at the age of 28.

Lawson Little claimed the "Little Slam" in 1934-35 with the help of this #5 iron. (USGA Museum)

Lawson Little's Spalding Kro-Flite #5 iron, 1934 U.S. Amateur Championship

Lawson Little used this club on his way to winning the 1934 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Earlier that year, Little won the British Amateur in England. The following year, Little made history by defending both titles and completing what became known as the “Little Slam.”

Little won 31 consecutive matches against the best golfers in the world on his way to complete the Little Slam. In 1935, Little received the Sullivan Award, presented to the nation’s outstanding amateur. He and Jones remain the only golfers to win this prestigious award.

Jack Nicklaus donated a 9-iron used to win the first of two U.S. Amateur titles in 1959 at The Broadmoor. (USGA Museum)

Jack Nicklaus’ 9-iron, 1959 U.S. Amateur

Jack Nicklaus was just entering the national stage when he won the 1959 U.S. Amateur at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. Nicklaus, then a 19-year-old junior at Ohio State, was considered an underdog compared to defending champion, Charlie Coe, his opponent in the 36-hole final. Nicklaus was 2 down before the pair broke for lunch, but he managed to stay in the match throughout the final 18. Nicklaus prevailed, 1 up, in dramatic fashion when Coe’s final putt stopped just short of the hole.

This title was followed by a second two years later at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, setting the tone for Nicklaus’ astounding career that featured 18 major championships, including four U.S. Opens.  

A scorecard from Tiger Woods' record-breaking third consecutive U.S. Amateur victory in 1996 at Pumpkin Ridge. (USGA Museum)

Tiger Woods Scorecard, 1996 U.S. Amateur

From the moment he burst onto the scene as a young prodigy, Tiger Woods has transcended the game through a bevy of record-breaking achievements. His crowning moment of his amateur career occurred in the 1996 U.S Amateur at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore. After trailing by as many as five holes in the morning 18, Woods rallied to defeat University of Florida standout Steve Scott on the second extra hole to win his record-breaking third consecutive U.S. Amateur and his sixth consecutive USGA championship. He also won three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur titles from 1991-93.

Following the 1996 U.S. Amateur, Woods joined the PGA Tour and quickly won two events just months into his fledgling career. In 1997, Woods became the first Black player to win a major championship when he won the Masters. He has since posted 15 major titles, including three U.S. Opens in 2000, 2002 and 2008, and his success has inspired the next generation of golfers.

Kylie Garabed is the USGA Museum’s junior curator. Email her at kgarabed@usga.org. For more information on the USGA Museum, click here

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