Looking ahead to British Open

Published 7:53 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2017

SOUTHPORT, England – The Open championship began this morning  with146 years of storied history which means a lot of kings and queens have come and gone during that time, including the celebrated Victoria.   Golfers have made their earthly exit, too.  From Old Tom Morris to Arnold Palmer (last fall).  The golf courses, however, seem to remain the same although they keep sticking the tee boxes further back in the heather.

We have gone from the Hanovers to the Jonses, the Sarazens, Hogans and the Sneads; to the Palmers, Nicklauses, Trevinos, Faldos, Woods and the Mickelsons.  And a mind boggling scene I never expected to see—British SWAT teams patrolling the grounds with automatic weapons.  We came to see hybrid clubs and creative shot-making not weapons that can maim and kill.  What we could do without, we must live with in today’s world.

At the beginning of every major, there is a flashback to yesteryear to whose game held sway when we were younger and times were less technical.   A writer today can send his thoughts across the Atlantic instantly, causing a flashback to the time when a portable typewriter and the dictating of the story via collect call was standard with many.  I’d gladly give up my computer with all its bells and whistle for the simplicity of those times. And, we are not talking about a century ago. The traditional weather which normally allows for a wind cheater has given way to what you might expect in Savannah in June.  Not bad for Chatham, but a burden for a misplaced Georgian in Southport. I like the Open when it is in Scotland — chilly and stiffening winds throughout the day.

If you are a professional golfer and are fortunate to clasp the Claret Jug on Sunday, your spirits are heightened by the conditions. Great champions have thrilled to victory in the toughest of times. Like our household names — Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino and Miller if you fancy a roll call of Americans at the British competition in the last half century.

There remains, as has been the case for several years, a UGA flavor in the field as Russell Henley, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner and Bubba Watson represent the Red and Black in Open competition. Perhaps the breeze off the Irish Sea will blow favorably for one of them this weekend.

Loran Smith is the executive secretary of the Georgia Bulldog Club.