Today’s Masters tradition we’re missing the most: Players winning crystal
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Among the Masters more endearing traditions is its long history of handing out various awards to participants for a wide array of achievements during tournament week. Of course there are prizes for the winner, runner-up and low amateur, but the club provides cherished mementos for other accomplishments, such as crystal glasses for eagles and crystal bowls for holes-in-one. And make no mistake, these awards are front of mind for many competing at Augusta National.
During the opening round of the 2018 Masters, amateur Doug Ghim made an eagle on the 18th hole to finish with an even-par 72. Instead of thinking about how the shot improved his chances of making the cut, the University of Texas undergrad had something else on his mind.
“I was, like, ‘I'm pretty sure I get crystal for this,’ ” he said after the round. “I’m excited that no matter what happens, I’m going to go home with something with my name on it from the Masters, and not from the pro shop.”
Ghim made two more eagles that Masters and also received a Sterling Silver Cup as low amateur. A pretty nice week but Ghim has a long way to go to catch the person who has earned the most prizes in the history of the Masters. It’s probably not a shock that it’s also the guy with the most green jackets: Jack Nicklaus.
The pages of the Masters media guide list who earned what in every year’s tournament. Here’s what Nicklaus’s haul looks like, in its totality:
22: Pair of crystal goblets for eagles (1968, 1969, 1970 (2), 1972, 1974 (2), 1976 (3), 1985 (2), 1986, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995 (2), 1996, 1997 (2))
15: Crystal vases for day’s low score (1963, 1964, 1965 (2), 1966, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1993)
7: Gold medals for low amateur (1960) and winning (1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986)
6: Bas-relief sterling silver Masters trophy replica for winning (1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986)
Rusty Jarrett/Augusta National
5: Silver medal low amateur runner-up (1961) and for being runner-up (1964, 1971, 1977, 1981)
3: Silver cigarette box, engraved for low amateur (1960) and winning (1963, 1965)
3: Silver box, engraved for winning (1972, 1975, 1986)
1: Crystal goblet for an eagle (1964)
1: Crystal highball glass for an eagle (1963)
1: Silver-Gold cup for low amateur (1960)
1: Silver tray, engraved for winning (1966)
1: Sterling silver salver for being runner-up (1981)
Phew! That’s 66 items in all. Jack better have a pretty large trophy room. Some of the more interesting facts about Nicklaus’ awards include that he earned eight after his 50th birthday and that the silver boxes and cigarette boxes and silver tray—he has the only one ever given—are no longer awarded to winners. The last of those was in 1992 when Fred Couples received the silver box.
Nicklaus also received only one silver salver for runner-up finishes (the Silver Salver wasn’t added to the runner-up awards until 1978, for which Rod Funseth is forever grateful). You’ll also notice the awards for eagles has changed over time. Starting in 1954, one crystal highball glass was awarded for eagles. That became one goblet in 1963 and then a pair of them in 1965. In 2012 it was back to highball glasses, but a pair of them. In all Nicklaus has won 12 different awards, including two versions of gold and two versions of silver medals), but there is one missing award that Jack never managed to earn in his Masters career: He has never earned the crystal bowl given for holes-in-one.
After Nicklaus’ collection, the golfer with the second most awards is the guy with the next most green jackets (five): Tiger Woods, with 38. Raymond Floyd is third with 37, followed by Arnold Palmer with 34 and Phil Mickelson with 32. The most awards in one Masters is seven by Ken Venturi in 1956, when he nearly won as an amateur. If he had won, he would have brought home three more. Phil Mickelson won six awards in 2010, aided by a trio of eagles.
As for some award trivia, many of the awards came later on and some were given retroactively, including the crystal bowl handed out for double eagles. When it was decided to give Bruce Devlin one for his 2 on the eighth hole in 1967, Clifford Roberts had another made and given to Gene Sarazen, who has the most famous double eagle in golf history from the 1935 Masters, first.
The winner of the Par 3 Contest gets a crystal bowl (Floyd and Palmer each nabbed one of those) and if the low amateur doesn’t make the cut, no awards are given for that. The low amateur also used to receive a cup, a medal and an engraved box. Today it’s a sterling silver cup.
The longest-given award is the gold medal that all winners of the event have received since its inception in 1934. The medal is 3.4 inches in diameter and weighs 2.3 ounces and features the Founders Circle with the clubhouse in the background.
Courtesy of the Masters
Incidentally, the awards are not given at the conclusion of the event, but are sent several months later, engraved with the player’s name, the year and the accomplishment engraved.
“I didn’t realize that they would be personalized with my name and the hole that I made the eagle on, but they’re pretty spectacular,” Ghim said. “Those will be coveted. I might have to get a safe so I make sure that no one takes it, and that if the house burns down that those will be all right.”
Over time some of these awards have shown up on auction sites, with some proving incredibly valuable. Chief among them is one of Arnold Palmer’s four Masters trophies for winning. The trophy, which is a silver replica of the clubhouse, was given to Bay Creek Resort in Virginia (which Palmer designed). The trophy went on the block at Green Jacket Auctions in December 2016 shortly after Palmer’s death. The resort, strapped for cash, sold it to a collector who then put it up for auction. The winning bid was $444,012, the second-highest price paid for a piece of golf memorabilia behind Horton Smith’s green jacket from 1936 that fetched $682,229.
Probably not what Bob Jones and Clifford Roberts had in mind when the club started giving out Masters awards, but impressive nonetheless.