The Professional Golfers‘ Association has secured a slice of golfing history after acquiring Henry Cotton’s gold medal from his 1937 Open victory at Carnoustie.
Almost 70 years to the day that Cotton captured his second Open title, the PGA landed the medal with a £33,000 bid at Bonhams auction in Edinburgh.
Medals of this kind are rarely seen at auction. Before the sale, the medal had been expected to fetch £25,000-30,000. Other costs take the amount actually paid to £39,600
The medal boosts the Association’s growing collection of golfing memorabilia at its Belfry headquarters which already includes Cotton’s clubs from his third Open win at Muirfield in 1948 plus Max Faulkner’s gold medal from his 1951 Open win at Royal Portrush.
“The Association has always recognised the immense contribution that Henry Cotton played in promoting the game,” said PGA director of heritage David Wright. “He played an important role in raising the standards of the golf professional in the public eye during his long and eventful career as a tournament player and club professional in the 1930s and 40s.
“In successfully bidding for this medal the Association is able to preserve the long term future of the medal and enhance the Association’s increasing heritage collection that includes the Ryle Memorial medal won in 1948 when Cotton won the Open Championship for the third time and the clubs he used during that victory at Muirfield.”
Following Cotton’s second Open win he was hailed as the best British professional golfer since the Great Triumvirate of J.H. Taylor, James Braid and Harry Vardon.
The great man’s display at Carnoustie saw him withstand a much-vaunted American challenge plus atrocious weather as he came back from three shots down on the last day to overhaul Reg Whitcombe and shoot a final round 71.
The US challenge petered out with Byron Nelson finishing fifth, Sam Snead in joint 11th place and Walter Hagen in a share of 26th.
Two of Cotton’s champion’s gold medals (1934 and 1937) were later made into a bracelet worn by his beloved wife ‘Toots‘. Cotton maintained that this was ‘better than having them lying in drawers somewhere…‘ The R&A owns the 1934 medal still framed by its part bracelet mount.