JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - Here's a quick-hitter to contemplate as the holes on the season's final major wind down and we await the presentation of the famed Wanamaker Trophy: there was a time when the trophy was lost, presumably forever. Here's how it unfolded:
Back in the early twentieth century, Walter Hagen was hammering the competition at the PGA Championship, then a match-play event. But in 1928, somebody named Leo Diegel beat Hagen 2-and-1, ending Hagen's four-year reign.
Problem was, when Hagen was asked to turn over the trophy, he -- sheepishly, we assume -- admitted that it was, um, kind of lost forever. Apparently the previous year in Dallas, Hagen had given the trophy to a taxi driver to take back to his hotel, and, amazingly enough, the trophy never made it. Shrugged Hagen at the time, "Eh, whaddaya gonna do?"*
Cut forward two years to 1930 and the cellar of L.A. Young & Co., the firm that manufactured Hagen's trademarked clubs ... a cellar, it must be noted, that was located in Detroit. (Feel free to envision the warehouse from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" if you like.) A kid cleaning the cellar found the trophy, undamaged in an unmarked case. It now resides in the PGA Historical Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and we're betting it wasn't sent there by taxi.
At 27 pounds, the Wanamaker Trophy -- named for a man who helped create the PGA of America, William B. Trophy** -- is a beast. But it's not the largest trophy in pro sports; the Stanley Cup is 36 pounds, and baseball's Commissioner's Trophy is 30 pounds. Still, someone's not going to have much trouble lifting it at the end of the PGA Championship, even if it's filled with iced-down beer.
*-Probably not an actual quote.
** - Visor tip to Dave Barry for that gag. Actual dude's name was Rodman Wanamaker.