Is it the British Open or The Open Championship?

The Open Championship? The British Open? What the heck are we calling this tournament these days?

The United States has its open championship, and it’s called, not surprisingly, the U.S. Open. Ireland has an open championship, it’s called the Irish Open. Scotland, too, has an open championship; the Scottish Open.

Extending this logic to Britain’s open would lead you to believe the competition is called the British Open, right? As we all know, however, that isn’t the case as some call the tournament The Open Championship and some (mostly in the United States) call it the British Open.

Part of the reason the British Open is THE Open Championship is that it was the first competition of its kind. Calling it The Open Championship is an acknowledgment of that primacy.

It’s clear the R&A, who organize the tournament, prefer The Open Championship. All official signage bears this name, and you won’t hear anyone on British television talking about the “British Open.” In a sense, the tournament is officially The Open Championship. That doesn’t seem to make a difference with respect to what players call it, however.

Interestingly, players are split on what to call the tournament. Not surprisingly, however, that split seems to be the Atlantic Ocean, with British golfers calling it The Open Championship and Americans calling it the British Open.

Perhaps Paul Casey, Englishman who now lives in the United States, can inject reason into the debate:

“It’s a geographical question…I will refer to it as The Open, but if I’m talking to somebody who doesn’t know golf and they have this slightly blank look on their face, I’ll say, ‘the British Open.’ So I have used the term, yeah.”

Fair enough. Martin Kaymer concurred, “When I’m in America, I call it the British Open. When I’m in Europe, it’s The Open,” per ESPN’s Jason Sobel.

Here’s the thing: It’s odd in a sport where we revere tradition, that Britain’s open championship isn’t known everywhere as The Open given its primacy and significance within the history of the game.

That said, we also revere decorum and sportsmanship in the world of golf, so it’s inappropriate to insist on referring to the tournament one way and bashing people who refer to it another way.

Start the discussion

to comment