Is it the Open Championship or the British Open? It’s really not that confusing…
Among the things that should evoke pity in all but the stoniest hearts is the earnestness with which some athletes who ain’t come to Ohio State to play school* will, later in life, refer to the institution as The Ohio State University. Surely, a handful do this ironically, but it’s hard to shake the impression that to many the “The” is a point of pride. The university itself insists on using the The, too. Perhaps it’s just clever marketing, but if you aren’t from Ohio or didn’t attend the school, it’s rather sad, really, to listen to someone who thinks that emphasis on a definite article is their bona fides, when the true effect is to reveal they are a bit too aware of the perception that the school and the state are both just one of many, and not particularly special ones at that.
Soon enough we shall all kick back and watch the proceedings at Royal Portrush, curious to see which of the world’s best players will win golf’s oldest tournament. When the winner inevitably kisses the Claret Jug**, will he be celebrating triumph in the Open Championship or the British Open? For the time being, please note the lowercase “t” and lack of stress on “the” in the previous reference to the Open Championship.
There are some Americans — and to be clear, it is only Americans — who call the Open Championship the British Open, and chalk up to British snobbery any reference to it as The Open. There’s the U.S. Open and the British Open, is their reasoning. Strictly speaking, the tournament in question is called the Open Championship, plain and simple. When it was first played in 1860, there were no other significant tournaments “open” to professional golfers, who at the time, in a genuine example of snobbery, were considered working-class zeros.
Now, if there were no other tournament of note anywhere in the world — which, again, was the case in 1860 — and you started a tournament open to all comers, what would you logically call it? Either Big Nate’s Keg Krusher Klassic, or the Open Championship, right? And, if 35 years later, you started another tournament open to anyone who had serious game, but played in the U.S. only and always, and you knew there was already one Open Championship because you started it, you’d recognize the need to distinguish the first Open from the second Open, so you would logically call it the U.S. Open Championship.
In most cases, it’s Americans who emphasize the The in The Open, usually in a mocking way, and almost always because at some point in life they’ve had an Abbott and Costello moment with a non-American golf enthusiast.
“Who do you think will win The Open?”
“There are two.”
“No, there’s one.”
“You tell me which of the two you think is the one?”
“The one that’s not the U.S. Open.”
“Then what’s the U.S. Open?
“It’s the U.S. Open.”
“Then what’s the other one?”
“So, the U.S. Open isn’t the Open?”
“It’s open, but it’s not The Open.”
“You’re telling me there are two open Opens, but only one is The Open and the other one is the U.S. Open?”
“Because the Open was first.”
“So, like the Open.”
“If you say so.”
“Theeeeee Open. Whaddya some kind of Open snob or something?”
“Why can’t you just call it the British Open?”
“Because that’s not what it’s called.”
“Well that’s what I call it.”
“So, who do you think is going to win Theeeee Open?”
“You mean The Open?”
“Well, I don’t mean the other Open!”
“Right, there’s only one Open.”
*Apologies to Ohioans, but c’mon! Also, props to Cardale Jones, the former Ohio State QB who always looked like he was wearing a helmet three sizes too small, and who in 2012 tweeted “We ain’t come here to play school.” He graduated from The Ohio State University in 2017.
**Why don’t Masters winners kiss the green jacket in Butler Cabin? If you have won the Masters and made out with your jacket in private, please let us know. Ditto if you’ve done anything else kinky while wearing it. You know you have! Tell us, you weirdos!