Why it's called 'The Open' and not the 'British Open'
Since it was founded in 1860, only one detail of The Open has never changed – the Championship’s title.
To compare and contrast the tournament 157 years ago with today is to understand how it has been transformed from a groundbreaking, but tiny, event into one of the world’s great sporting occasions.
The 1860 Open was played over three rounds of 12 holes, by seven Scotsmen and one Englishman, who competed for a leather Challenge Belt worth £25.
Today, The Open is contested over four rounds of 18 holes, with a field of 156 (not counting the thousands who compete in qualifying tournaments right across the world), all vying for the Claret Jug and a prize fund in excess of £6million.
Yet Willie Park Senior – the first winner – and 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year Henrik Stenson have one thing in common – they both won The Open, not The British Open.
The confusion surrounding the Championship’s correct title is long running and yet in essence the explanation is simple.
Initially, in 1860, there were no other Opens for it to be confused with.
Only as the sport grew in stature and influence around the world did nations introduce national Opens. The US Open was born and, in time, the French, Spanish, Italian and many others followed.
Perhaps the key point is what happened next. In response to the new Opens, defined by nationality, the R&A was clear and unequivocal: The Open was not the British Open.
At no stage in the Championship’s history have the minutes, entry forms or programmes of the R&A ever referred to it as the "British Open".
There is a further, and crucial, element to the story because following the success of the first Open, its host club Prestwick announced that the tournament "shall be open to the world".
It is an ethos which has never been forgotten and it might be said that now, more than ever, The Open is the most fitting title because in 2017, qualifying events have taken place across five continents around the world.
The Open is the correct name for the Championship. It is also the most appropriate.