There used to be a time and a place for everything. I tell my children there still is, but I am not as sure as my parents seemed to be. This week the time and place is the Open Championship. I didn’t always call it that. As a matter of fact I used to smirk at people who did.
But that was before I understood that this championship is far more than the British Open to all who participate and to the rest of the world. Should we choose to forget that then we become that guy in the parking lot at Christmas honking his horn at mothers and children for taking too long to move out of their spot.
For all its stuffiness and pomp, the Open Championship is the highlight of the golf season for the entire world of golf outside the borders of the United States and maybe Mexico. The USGA is the governing body of that territory. The R&A is the governing body for the rest of the world. Form Toronto to Tokyo to Melbourne to London, The Open Championship is their championship.
That alone should be enough to garner our respect and attention. But the Open Championship isn’t that alone. There are the courses, each unique with their own stories of championships past. Then it is the way that golf is revered in the United Kingdom that we can only imagine here in the States. Even those who don’t play in the UK understand that golf is woven into the fabric of their sports culture.
Golf fans in the States think that we get it, but I have to admit that it was only recently that it all started to make sense. As a player growing up in the U.S., the debate was always about whether you would rather win the Masters or the U.S. Open. The British Open was always a distant third. Even Tom Watson couldn’t change that with his five titles.
Maybe it is the fact that the U.S. has been dominated often in the Ryder Cup over the last two decades. Maybe it is the fact that the world of golf is so much smaller now than it has ever been. Or maybe it is as simple as the broadcast team on American television these days is filled with our players who get the event, rave about it and make us realize that we are watching far more than the British Open.
In his blog last week, Tiger Woods said that he was looking forward to his “favorite major.” Although he didn’t qualify the statement with explanation, it seems likely that Tiger’s affinity stems from both the history of the event and the creativity required to play it well. He has made his own history at this championship and certainly has his sights set on making more.
Whatever happens this week, whether it is an American or someone else who holds the immortality of the Claret Jug in his hands on Sunday evening, another page of history will be written. It will be written in the annals of the games oldest major. It will be written in time for all those who come after to appreciate.
If I am overstating this, being a little melodramatic, then it is because there are so many who still don’t get it. Ironically they aren’t confined to the casual American golf fan. A good number of those who prefer to keep their heads in the sand about the international importance of this event are those whose job it is to cover it. But this isn’t the time or the place to call out the British tabloids.
This is the time to remember great championships past and look forward to another edition this week. The tabloids will still be there next week.