If you’re unsure of what to call this week’s major golf tournament, that’s ok — some of the game’s top broadcasters aren’t entirely clear on the matter either.
The Open Championship is the oldest of golf’s four majors, and it also has the most confusing name. “The Open Championship” is its official label, but many have long referred to it as the British Open, drawing the ire of countless Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews members along the way.
Furthermore, tournament organisers have begun to brand the tournament as simply “The Open,” its most ambiguous moniker yet.
Most British fans have always dismissed the notion that there is a “British” Open, and they have only become more militant in recent years. It’s gotten to the point that the R&A included a provision in their latest television deal that prohibits broadcasters from calling the event the British Open, limiting them to either The Open Championship or The Open.
But it is not just Americans who refer to it as “The British Open.” The confusion even recently tripped up one of the greatest Scottish golfers of all time, Colin Montgomerie.
Three-time Champion Golfer of the Year and current CBS commentator Nick Faldo took things a step further when he mock-chastised a reporter for referring to the event by its full name.
“The Open Championship is incorrect. It’s now The Open,” the Englishman said. “You see? It’s gone from the British Open, the Open Championship, now it’s The Open…In another five years it will be just called ‘The.'”
During the same teleconference, 1976 British Open winner and current NBC commentator Johnny Miller said that he still refers to it as the British Open when he’s not on the air.
“I have trouble with it,” the American said. “I screwed up one time last year, if you call it a screw-up, which is pretty good in four days.”
One of the most outspoken figures in golf, Miller isn’t usually one to shy away from saying exactly what’s on his mind. His conscientiousness during the 2016 broadcast shows that the R&A means business when it comes to Open Championship nomenclature.
Most stateside fans probably see the entire issue as trivial, but it’s hard to fault the Brits for being proud of their history. The first Open in 1860 marked the beginning of the modern game. For a time, it really was The Open Championship, in contrast with the numerous private tournaments held by local clubs.
Malcolm Booth, the R&A’s director of sales and marketing, said that eradicating the term “British Open” remains a priority.
“It’s an education process we’ve embarked on,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
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