It seems like every year the British Open offers something distinctive, but to me this summer's edition seems even more special than usual. For the first time since 1967, the championship is returning to the Hoylake course at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, where the great Roberto De Vicenzo captured his one and only major title. I hope the R&A has the courtesy and forethought to bring the gracious and humble Argentine champion, now 83, back to the scene for a victory lap. He deserves to be remembered for much more than losing the Masters the following year ("What a stupid I am!") when he signed an incorrect scorecard.
Our story about the Open's return to a revitalized Liverpool is titled "Back to Where It Once Belonged," and indeed the event does belong at Hoylake—from 1897 to 1967 it held more Open Championships than anyplace other than the Old Course. But the headline, of course, also refers to that other sixties Liverpool phenomenon—the Beatles—who released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band six weeks before De Vicenzo's victory. Back then, as writer Eric Levin points out, golf and rock music were at opposite sides of the cultural spectrum. (Read the piece for John Lennon's opinion of the game.) These days... well, I saw Neil Young playing at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am a few years ago—what does that tell you?In any event, for golfers of a certain age (like me, 50), the game's oldest championship making its first trip back to the birthplace of the Beatles since the Summer of Love is just too deliciously ironic... or symbolic... or something. It promises to be great fun.
Here's another little tidbit that didn't make it into Levin's piece: Royal Liverpool's motto is "Far and Sure," but that isn't just a description of the shot required to tame its course. According to legend, it comes from an Edinburgh shoemaker named John Patersone, who was chosen as a partner by the Duke of York in a high-stakes golf match in the 1600s. When the duo won, Patersone bought a house with his share of the winnings and used the phrase on his crest to both commemorate the match and describe how one would walk in the boots he made. Many English clubs, not just Royal Liverpool, later adopted it as their motto.
Hey, all these places have their moments. This summer, at last, Liverpool will have another.