Description1946 British Open Championship Gold Medal Won by Sam Snead.
As Snead's train car approached the final terminal in northern Scotland, he directed a finger at the vast expanse of unpopulated terrain out the window and asked a fellow traveler, "What's that abandoned golf course out there?"
Stunned at the American's outrageous inquiry, the Scotsman bristled, "That's St. Andrews!"
"That's where they're playing the British Open?" Snead replied incredulously.
The man grew even redder. "That's where they're playing the Championship!"
And such was the legendary Sam Snead's introduction to one of the few names in golf as illustrious as his own, that of the Old Course at St. Andrews, the ancestral home of the sport, already half a millennium old as Snead took his first steps upon its verdant grounds. This would prove to be the second of three occasions that Snead would throw his famous fedora into the ring in Great Britain's most illustrious tournament, and presented is the gleaming symbol of achievement that awaited him at the conclusion of the battle, one of the most significant Championship awards from any field of athletic endeavor ever to appear upon the hobby's auction block.
In fairness, Snead might well have claimed multiple Open titles had he returned to Britain's foggy landscape for subsequent tournaments, but his victor's check in 1946 had been only $600, not nearly enough to cover the $2,000 out-of-pocket expenses he'd incurred to make the journey across the Atlantic. He had been in the United Kingdom for the Ryder's Cup in 1937 for his first Open, but travel expenses would restrict Snead's reappearance on the Open roster until 1962, eight years past the occasion of his final Major victory.
But the iconic linksman was at his youthful prime as he entered the final Sunday round in 1946 tied at 215 with American Johnny Bulla and Brit Dai Rees, posting a solid seventy-five to claim the victory by four strokes. This first playing of the Open Championship after a seven-year delay due to World War II hostilities would prove to be the second of Snead's seven career Majors.
The most famous symbol of achievement in this tournament is the Silver Claret Jug, a piece that Heritage was proud to present in our August 2013 Platinum Night auction, where it commanded a winning bid of $262,900. This secondary prize earned for the same Major victory is stamped at ".375" gold, equivalent to nine carats, and artfully engraved with the glorious details on front and verso. The former reads, "Open Golf Championship 1946." The latter: "Winner, Sam Snead, July." The medal measures 1.5" diameter and is housed in its original case embossed with the golden seal of the "Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews." Pristine condition. Letter of provenance from Jack Snead.
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