Open Championship Owes American Interest To Palmer
It’s hard to believe, but until the 1960s, the Open Championship was pretty much a strictly European affair. Bobby Jones not withstanding, few Americans made the trip.
In 1946, after his victory at the Old Course, Sam Snead was asked if he would return to defend his title: “Are You Kidding,” he said. “I can’t afford it.”
Snead also famously mistook the Home of Golf for an abandoned track: “Say! That looks like an old abandoned golf course,’’ Snead said as his train steamed by. “What did they call it?’’ Later, he would comment that the Old Course was “some acreage that was so raggedy and beat up that I was surprised to see what looked like a fairway amongst the weeds. Down home, we wouldn’t plant cow beets on land like that.’‘
But in 1960, the telegenic and enormously popular Arnold Palmer made the trip to the Old Course , stamping the British Open Championship into the American public’s consciousness. And on the way over, in a conversation with Pittsburgh sportswriter Bob Drum, Palmer declared that the Open Championship was one of the four “Modern Majors” to parallel Bob Jones Grand Slam of the US and British Amateurs and Opens.
Palmer lost the 1960 Open Championship to Australian Kel Nagle, but would return in 1961 to win at Birkdale—the site of this year’s tournament. After that, there was no question that most of the top American players would make the transatlantic trip to play the Open Championship.
Golf Blog Category:
British Open Championship