“It was named by drunken Scots after listening to barking dogs. Golf is played by twenty
million mature American men whose wives think they are out there having fun”
– Jim Bishop, syndicated column, 1970
Having managed to make it through another week, I settled into the recliner on Friday afternoon to watch the ESPN replay of the second round of the British Open golf tournament which is being played at Muirfield overlooking the Firth of Forth.
I’ve always enjoyed watching the British Open when it’s played north of Hadrian’s Wall in the land otherwise known as Scotland. In addition to being the place where the game was first played, I’m able to trace my own lineage back to Sutherland and Caithness in the far northern highlands of Scotland and I find it refreshing to take in scenes of the homeland from time to time. I also occasionally have an urge to don a kilt and run through the neighborhood swinging a sword longer than I am tall, but generally I’m able to control that one.
But back on the subject of golf, there are those who would criticize me for referring to the tournament as “the British Open.” Golf purists tend to speak of the event in reverential tones as simply “The Open.” This appears to be based on the somewhat pretentious assumption that there are no other golf tournaments which equal the majesty, legacy, and heritage of the British Open; which of course, in my humble opinion, is simply not the case.
For anyone who follows golf or cults of sport celebrity in general, it’ll come as no surprise that many, if not most, sports media golf pundits are predicting that Tiger Woods will be the victor come Sunday evening. Notching another win in a major tournament would move Tiger one step closer to equalling Jack Nicklaus’ astounding record of 18 major tournament championships. For the uninitiated, the current “majors” are limited to the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship. But of course the golf world’s talking heads have been making similar and equally inaccurate prognostications pertaining to Woods’ next win in a major for the past five years or so. Sort of reminds me of that old story about the boy who cried wolf, or was it that he cried tiger?
Frankly, I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Tiger were to never win another major championship. In this year’s British Open, I’d much prefer to see a veteran player of the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, or just an unheralded journeyman from the field pick up the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon. We’ll just have to wait to see how it turns out.
In the meantime, I’ll have to reach deep in order to find the patience to endure the apparent compulsion which every ESPN commentator has to make lame jokes about the Firth of Forth, not to mention to periodically demonstrate their astounding lack of knowledge and understanding regarding the game of golf.
“Excessive golfing dwarfs the intellect. And is this to be wondered at when we
consider that the more fatuously vacant the mind is, the better the play.”
– Sir Walter Simpson, The Art of Golf, 1887
Photo credit: usgtf.com
Photo credit: ayrshiregolf.blogspot.com