The Senior PGA Championship trophy is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — in all of golf. It weighs in at a bulky 36 pounds, is 42 inches tall and has an 18-inch base. When the winner of the oldest major in senior golf gets the trophy at the end of a hard-fought tournament, it seems like work to lift it as much as it is a reward to win it.
However, the Senior PGA Championship trophy, officially known as the Alfred S. Bourne trophy, has a remarkable history that’s key to the start of this championship.
The first Senior PGA Championship was played in 1937, and by then Alfred S. Bourne had already been a made man. Bourne was one of the 13 children of Frederick and Emma Bourne. Alfred’s dad was president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company from 1889 to 1905, and Alfred was an heir to the family fortune upon his father’s passing.
Bourne as his wife lived in Connecticut, but they spent winters in Augusta, Ga. Their daughter met and married Horton Smith in 1938, four years after Smith won the first Masters, then known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, in 1934. Bourne played his golf at Augusta Country Club, counting future USGA president Fielding Wallace as a friend. Bourne won four consecutive Augusta Country Club club championships, and he got to know Augusta National founder Bobby Jones.
Jones invited Bourne to become a founding member of the club. The founding members were supposed to commit at least $5,000 to the club over the long term. Well, Bourne agreed but accidentally was asked to fund with $50,000. Bourne cut the check for the next morning.
Bourne remained an officer and a key member at Augusta Country Club, donating several key pieces of infrastructure, like renovating tennis courts and the pro shop. Meanwhile, in 1937, as Augusta National’s vice-president, Bourne purchased a Tiffany’s trophy for $1,500 to be given to the winner of the inaugural Senior PGA, played at the now home of the Masters.