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Brassies, bunkers, and bogeys: celebrating The Open

The game of golf has a long established history – the OED records the word as far back as 1457. From the moment when the first ball was addressed and the subsequent first putt was sunk, the English language has been enriched with golfing terms, some of which are illustrated in the accompanying word cloud.

The weekend of the third Friday in July sees the holding of The Open  –  the third major in the golfing calendar.  The competition always takes place on a links course in the UK  –  this year it is Royal St George’s in Kent –  which can be enough to test the mettle of even the best golfers, especially given the unpredictable British weather. The Claret Jug is at stake, and of course the honour of being crowned Open Champion and joining the roll call of golf’s greatest players.

Over the past few years I have found myself warming to golf, although my enjoyment is firmly of the armchair variety: I have never swung a golf club in my life (unless you count endless summers playing mini golf). This is to the delight of my father, who sees golf much less as a good walk spoiled and much more as any kind of walk enhanced.  I did, however, have my first taste of attending a golf tournament very recently and enjoyed the live experience of listening to the thwack of the club as it hit the ball and the resulting gentle thud as the ball landed on the green.  As well as the ripples of applause from an appreciative crowd and the whoops of welcome given as the players approached the tees (thankfully I did not hear any shouts of ‘in the hole’ as soon as a player teed off).  This time, sadly, I will be sitting in my armchair and watching it all on television.

From the mashie and the niblick, the nineteenth hole and the hole-in-one, to the albatross and the eagle, there is plenty to appreciate for language lovers and golf enthusiasts alike.

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