The Open Championship: Golf Greatest Major

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2010

ST ANDREWS, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 26:  The Open Championship trophy on the 18th fairway as a preview for the 2010 Open Championship to be held on the Old Course at St Andrews on April 26, 2010 in St Andrews, United Kingdom.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

On Thursday, July 15, the best golfers on the face of the planet will congregate at St. Andrews—the undisputed home of golf—for the 150th playing of the Open Championship.

Here are five reasons why the Open Championship is golf’s premier major.

1) It’s golf’s oldest major championship

The Masters is advertised as “a tradition like no other.” Well, that’s not exactly true—sorry, CBS Sports.

The Open Championship was being played 28 years before the first golf course opened in America, 42 years before Bobby Jones was born, and 74 years before the first Masters was held in Augusta, GA. 

Heck, The Open Championship was initially contested long before most Americans even knew what a golf club was, and has been played 150 times since.

2) Golf, the way it was meant to be played

It is unclear when or where the game of golf originated from. However, most will agree that golf as we know it today was created along the shores of Scotland sometime in the 14th century. For hundreds of years, the Scots have been playing links golf. It’s a form of golf that most of the world is unfamiliar with, yet it’s the way the game was meant to be played. 

Parkland golf is equivalent to moving the pitcher’s mound back to 75 feet, or raising the basketball rim to 14 feet, or moving ski competitions inside a climate controlled dome.

Sure, it’s still baseball, it’s still basketball, and it’s still skiing, but it’s not quite the way those sports were meant to be played.

3) Every truly great players have won the British Open at one time or another

What do Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Gene Sarezen, Bobby Jones, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods all have in common, aside from being the greatest golfers of all time?

Yup, you got it. They have all won the Open Championship at least once.

The Masters?

Vardon didn’t even play in a single Masters. Jones retired before he created the Masters and Hagen was in the twilight of his career when the first Masters was held in 1934 (Then called the Augusta National Invitational).  

The PGA Championship?  Is that still a major?

Ben Hogan decided to play in the 1953 Open Championship for the first time, in large part because he was convinced that he would never be considered truly great until he won golf’s oldest major championship, which he did in 1953 to complete the “Hogan Slam” (Hogan won all three majors he attended in 1953. He was unable to compete in the PGA Championship that year because it conflicted with the Open Championship).

If you can’t master links golf, you can master the game in its purest form.

4) The tournament does not take up your entire weekend

The Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship take up your entire weekend, not to mention that your wife is ready to run you out of the house by the time the last putt disappears into the ground at around 7pm EST on Sunday evening.

The British Open, on the other hand—well, you can wake up early, watch the entire tournament before 2pm EST and go about the rest of your day.

You can enjoy a full day of golf, and you won’t even be forced to sleep on the couch.

5) Played on some of the most historic golf courses on Earth

St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Birkdale, Royal Troon—these are some of the most historic and most iconic golf courses on the face of the planet.

St. Andrews was the ultimate golf course 367 years before construction on Pebble Beach began and 382 years before Augusta National opened its doors.

For more than 400 years, the majestic courses located along the Scottish coastline have been considered the greatest golf courses on earth. Folks, that’s 236 years before Europeans began settling in Australia and 309 years before the American Civil War.

What could possibly be better than a major championship being held at the undisputed home of golf?

Now give us some greys skies, unrelenting wind, steady rain, tall fescue and brown grass, because it’s time for the real tradition like no other—the 150th playing of the Open Championship.

For more PGA Tour news, insight and analysis, check out The Tour Report.


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