The British Open Teaches Sports Car Racers A Lesson

By Tom Martin

July 26, 2017

The British Open is one of the four golf tournaments classified as a "major", a term appropriated by the SCCA but with a longer-standing history in the world of golf. The 2017 edition of the British Open was the 146th time the tournament has been played. Given the limited number of majors, and the money at stake ($1.85 million for the winner, $10 million total purse), the British Open is a big deal in the world of golf. Kind of like the Indy 500.

On Sunday, professional golfer Jordan Spieth, put on quite a show to win the 146th Open. He started with a 3 stroke lead over Matt Kuchar, lost it on the 13th hole in spectacular "that's the worst drive I've ever seen" fashion, and came back to win by 3 strokes. That's sort of like being up by half a lap, spinning to drop behind with 10 laps to go, and then coming back to win by half a lap.

Comparing golf to sports car racing is tough though, because the sports are very different. One place where they are different, oddly, is not fundamental. It is a cultural difference. Golfers generally pride themselves on being gentlemen and gentle ladies. The game is mostly self-policing, and golfers take that seriously. Respect for one's competitors is practiced and expected. They're human, so this doesn't always work, but they do a pretty remarkable job if you compare them to sports car racers.

Sports car racing is full of anger and accusations and attempts to hide mistakes from the officials. Of course, there is more adrenaline in sports car racing, which has an effect. But that's an excuse. And an excuse that we notice doesn't hold up with wives and children and fans.

On Sunday, writer Michael Bamberger observed "When it was over, [Spieth] saw Kuchar's wife, Sybi, and their two sons, on hand on a surprise secret-mission from Colorado, tumble toward their father. "I saw his family hugging him, and I think it was Cameron, his oldest, who was in tears. And I'm so happy. And I thought to myself, ‘Man, put this in perspective. He's a dad.' And I was able to kind of get a little glimpse into what that's like.'"

"Put this in perspective." Good advice.