When it comes to the name of an Open winner, Garry Harvey adopts the outlook of someone faced with a putt to win golf’s oldest major. The shorter, the better.

That’s understandable, of course. Harvey is the man who inscribes the Champion Golfer of the Year onto the Claret Jug amid the triumphant hoopla of the event’s immediate aftermath.

The idea, then, of someone like Christiaan Bezuidenhout hovering over an eight-footer for the title would just about have Harvey chomping down on his own engraving chisel in an anguished, teeth-grinding fankle. 

“That would be a long one,” he gasped with a chortle at the prospect of tackling this 22-letter epic against the clock.

Harvey took over the R&A’s engraving duties when his father, the late Alex, officially retired in 2005 after many, many years of loyal, diligent service. 

“He was the least nervous person out there and a far better engraver than me,” said Garry in tribute to his dad’s handy work which, you could say, left a sensational Alex Harvey plinth band around the base of the Claret Jug.

Close up images of Harvey, and his father before him, gently etching the new champion’s name on to the trophy in the minutes before the prize giving have just about made the Scotsmen’s fingers as famous as the ivory-tinkling digits of Richard Clayderman.

It remains a role which requires a steady hand, a keen eye and a calm disposition.

“If there’s a play-off, you have to get it done quicker as television companies are pressurising the ceremony,” added Harvey of the nail-nibbling demands, which also includes engraving the gold medal as well as the silver and bronze baubles for the leading amateurs. “I try not to get too nervous. If I did, the old hand would wobble.


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“I don’t like being pressurised although I understand the needs. If there was a play-off, Peter Dawson (the former R&A chief executive) would often stand over me saying ‘right, we’re under pressure here Mr Harvey’.

“The BBC used to have a cameraman quite close too. But the R&A had a photographer in the room and the constant clicking of that camera would be more off putting than anything.”

Harvey was a dab hand as a player back in the day and, at the same time as serving his apprenticeship in the family engraving business, he was carving out a name for himself on the amateur golf scene. Runner-up in the Boys’ Amateur Championship in 1971, Harvey won it the following year. “I actually engraved my own name on to the trophy,” recalled the 66-year-old from Perth.

As a professional, Harvey savoured his one and only European Tour win at the 1985 Kenya Open. “But I never reached the heights and the lack of sponsorship was a big thing,” conceded Harvey who played in one Open Championship at Lytham in 1979. “My dad would give me £800 and that could keep me going for a month but I couldn’t make a living and that was always at the back of my mind.”

Harvey may not have reached the giddy echelons of the professional game but at least he gets up close and personal with golf’s most cherished trophy on a regular basis. “There is that sense that my work is going to be there for a long, long time and that’s very satisfying,” he said of his indelible marks on Open history.

Away from the cut-and-thrust of golf’s greatest championship, there is the day job to attend to. If you thought the needs of the R&A high heid yins were exacting, then think again. “I do a lot of agricultural shows,” Harvey reported. “The horsey people in particular are very competitive and demanding. They want their plaques right there and then.”


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There was no best in show at The Open last year as the championship was cancelled due the coronavirus. Harvey is keeping those finely tuned fingers crossed that it will be business as usual this summer. 

The tools of his trade, meanwhile, remain as sharp as ever. “They lasted my father all his years and I took them on, they are antiques now and irreplaceable,” he said. “They have etched some great names on to that trophy.”

Hopefully, there will be a few more for Harvey to add yet. “There’s space for about another 25 years’ worth of winners on the current base,” he said.

The aforementioned Bezuidenhout could eat into that, mind you.