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The Open 2021: The endless "British Open" vs. "Open Championship" debate

By Sam Weinman  

The debate over whether to call the third major of the season "The Open Championship" or "The British Open" is one readily dismissed by golf purists, especially those based in the U.K.

As they see it, the Open Championship needs no provincial qualifier since it predates the U.S. Open by decades. It will always be The Open, they say, because it has always BEEN The Open.

OK, fine. But then what the hell is this?

The above footage, aired during Golf Channel's second-round coverage, is from the first Open at Carnoustie in 1931, when the Silver Scot Tommy Armour claimed his only claret jug. It's worth noting that the presenter in this scenario was not some bureaucrat from Ponte Vedra, but the Earl of Airlie sporting an unmistakably Scottish kilt.

You might say no one in the history of golf would be more likely to call this tournament The Open Championship than a kilt-wearing Earl. And yet now we have video evidence of him calling it the "British Open Golf Championship," perhaps setting negotiations in this thorny debate back decades in the process.

Update: It gets better! Thanks to reader Dave for alerting us to this video from the 1930 edition at Hoylake when none other than Bobby Jones won the claret jug en route to the Grand Slam (skip to the 1:20 mark).


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