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The Open Championship Crowd

Why you shouldn’t call it the British Open

February 14, 2024
Open Championship

The 152nd edition of The Open Championship will be held at Royal Troon in July 2024. This ancient championship is not only the oldest in competition in golf, but one of the oldest professional sporting events in the world.

The first edition of the tournament was held in 1860, at Prestwick, also on Scotland’s Ayrshire coastline. The only gaps in the history of the tournament were for the two world wars, Covid-19 in 2020 and intriguingly in 1871, when Young Tom Morris who won the three previous years, earned the right to keep the trophy, meaning there wasn’t one to play for.

British Open 2023 Packages at Royal Liverpool
Rory McIlroy at the Open Championship

What is the origin of The Open’s name?

One of the great traditions of this historic tournament is its name. ‘Open’ refers to the ability for anyone to enter, amateur or professional, through a rigorous qualification process. This is a similar structure to another famed UK sporting competition, the FA Cup, which also allows any team to enter a provisional qualifying round.

Given its status as one of the oldest tournaments in sport, The Open truly is the original Open. However, due to multiple ‘Opens’ now taking place in golf, including the U.S., Irish, Scottish, Mexico, RBC Canadia, Puerto Rico, Waste Management Phoenix, Valero Texas, and even the Magical Kenya, to name but a few, the name has become somewhat diluted. When you consider other sports, too – for example, the U.S. Open tennis tournament, it is understandable why The Open is often now referred to as ‘The British Open‘, particularly in North America.

However, the desire for The Open to retain the purity of its name is not only due to its origin but also that it remains a true open championship, when few others can claim this mantra. In fact, following the first edition of The Open, the host venue Prestwick announced that the tournament “shall be open to the world”.

Shane Lowry at the Open Championship
Shane Lowry at the Open Championship

What are the official approved names for The Open?

According to the R&A, the organizers of The Open and a primary governing body of the game, the correct names for this year’s Open include; The 152nd Open, The 152nd Open at Royal Troon, and The Open Championship, and it should not be referred to by any other name.

It is also worth noting the winner of The Open is known as ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’, while there is no reference to British there either, it’s a wonderful title to be crowned.

So, the next time you hear the term ‘British Open’, please inform those of the origins and reasons behind the iconic name.