He was flashy, stylish and possibly the first athlete to earn $1 million in his career. Walter Hagen made much of his money playing exhibition golf matches around the world in an era long before the “pro tour” became the norm but when the most prestigious events were on the schedule, Hagen was almost always in the running. Now, one of his most fabulous awards is about to be sold.
Heritage Auctions will offer Hagen’s 1926 PGA Championship medal next month. It’s expected to sell for at least $80,000.
Hagen beat two future Hall of Famers, Johnny Farrell and Leo Diegel, in the semifinals and finals of the tournament, held at Salisbury Golf Club on Long Island. He clinched the match play title four-and-three to earn his third straight PGA title. He’d make it four in a row the following year and
remains the only golfer to win more than two in a row. In all, Hagen captured 11 major championships.
The medal will be part of a major catalog auction scheduled to open April 19 at HA.com.
PGA Championship winners also receive the Wanamaker trophy. Fitting with his devil-may-care attitude, Hagen was supposed to bring it with him in 1926 as defending champion but when asked where it was he smartly replied that he didn’t bring it because he didn’t intend to lose it.
The trophy eventually turned up in 1930, packed in a crate at L.A. Young and Co., which supplied Hagen’s line of equipment.
Heritage sold Hagen’s 1925 PGA Championship medal in 2011.