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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
The A to Zee of the British Open
By Matt Slater
Golf editor

Many Americans tend to dismiss our Open as a kind of golfing Epcot Centre, but with bad plumbing and inadequate parking. And unlike Florida, it is a nightmare to pack for.

Many Britons dismiss these reservations with a snooty disregard, and tend to make barbed remarks about pampered children and bad leisurewear.

But, as with most things, it is more complicated than that.

While half the field expected at US qualifying for the Open failed to show up, there have been hundreds of Americans who have fallen in love with the event, and been loved for it in return.

So here, to help keep the relationship special, BBC Sport provides the definitive visitors' guide to the Open.

A is for Airport

This is it where it starts. The journey, that is. The course will be miles away from the airport at the bottom of a rutted, one-track road.

And you can forget the courtesy car. Get a taxi.

B is for Bed

Quick tip for the taller golfer: if you want to keep your feet warm in bed, keep your socks on.

And watch out for those blankets on exposed skin, they can scar.

C is for Clubhouse

Fairly similar to what you'll be used to back home, although we tend to use windows more than air conditioning.

And you'll also find a lot more people in the bar than you ever see on the course - don't worry, this is where many of the greatest rounds are witnessed.

D is for Driving

No, not that kind. I'm talking about the four-wheel variety.

Think, everything you know is wrong and you should be OK. You can't turn right on red but you are allowed to leave the car at the hotel and walk every now and then.

E is for En-suite

British hotels outside the major cities - that's London, for you - are a little different to the ones you're used to on the PGA Tour.

Forget ice machines - just put whatever you want chilled on the window ledge. And your bathroom will be en-suite only in the sense that it is connected to the corridor that is connected to your room.

F is for Fish Supper

A bit like a dog's dinner, but with more salt and vinegar.

And don't assume that because you could see the sea from the course this greasy lump of battered protein will taste in any way fresh.

G is for Gorse

Not to be confused with the stuff you use to bandage wounds.

Looks pretty in the pictures on shortbread tins, swallows golf balls and cuts ankles in reality.

H is for Heavy

While in the States you are obsessed in removing calories (and taste) from beer, in Scotland they implant them.

Brewed from girders, probably. Best drunk on park benches.

I is for Ivor Robson

Wearing golf's second most famous green jacket, Ivor is the beating heart of the Open.

He may look like a coach driver, but the official starter is the hardest working man in show business.

J is for Jug

Well you're not here for the weather, are you.

Made in 1873, the Claret Jug is golf's oldest trinket, although the winner has to settle for a smaller replica. And no, we don't all have claret jugs at home.

K is for Ken Brown

Ken was cutting a sartorial dash on the fairways when Ian Poulter was still in short trousers.

Now he is better known for his perceptive punditry and an ability to pick the best groups to follow.

L is for Links

Not a side order for your six-pancake stack. This is what you're playing on.

Named for being land that links the countryside to the sea. You would call it beachfront property and build holiday homes on it.

M is for Midges

Not the lead singer of 1980s Scottish synth popsters Ultravox, but no less annoying.

If you thought only hot countries have insects, you were wrong.

N is for Newspapers

Much like your papers, but with pictures of breasts and stories about soccer.

Wear a colourful shirt/clown around/say something funny and they will love you. Whinge about the weather/course/food and they will sift through your rubbish and hound you all the way to the airport.

O is for Oats

Tired of fried food? Try porridge.

Lots of oatsy goodness and by far the closest thing you'll find to lean cuisine north of the border.

P is for Parnevik

Not the volcanic-dust eating, purple-trousered Swede, but his masked supporters.

Sadly, Jesper, a legend in these parts for following the advice above about clowning around and wearing funny clothes, won't be at Troon.

Q is for Queen

The clue is in the title. If our head of state played as much golf as yours does she would play at somewhere like Troon.

The Queen, however, is far too busy with constitutional matters and tends to send her son Prince Andrew to these things.

R is for Rider

Not a spelling mistake, or the list of sandwiches you would like to be available in the locker room.

This is Steve Rider, the face of golf in this country. Don't try to avoid an interview, either. He has a golf buggy/TV studio that will chase you down.

S is for Summer

Last year it came on Wednesday.

Ask Tiger about what happened the year before on Saturday.

T is for Tartan

Do not let a Scot hear you call this "plaid". And don't laugh at the men in skirts.

It's their national costume: you wouldn't like it if people poked fun at baseball caps and permanent press slacks.

U is for Undulations

Bit of a euphemism this one. You'd probably call them bad fairways and worse greens.

On links courses the fairway is only the fairer way in that it is not gorse.

V is for Village

This is where most Open courses are found. Troon is no different.

Don't expect to find many native Americans, cowboys or leather-clad bikers amongst the locals. The Village People didn't really live in a village.

W is for Wind

Not the kind that you might experience after a heavy meal, although with Scottish food that may be a problem too.

This is the weather kind and will be the difference between you enjoying a birdie blitz or enduring the bogey blues.

X is for X-rated

Potty mouths are frowned upon, so copy Phil Mickelson and say "shoot" and "darn it" instead.

And don't be alarmed by the locals. They sometimes sound like they're swearing at you, but they're probably just being friendly.

Y is for You're the Man

This is more directed at our guests coming to watch the golf rather than play.

Follow, clap and, when the situation merits it, even cheer for your favourite player. But under no account are you ever to scream the above phrase, or its close relative "in the hole".

Z is for ZA

As prize funds go stratospheric, the cars in the players' car park - parking lot, to you - get more and more impressive.

And when it is all over, look out for the nice car with a South Africa sticker on the bumper. The Claret Jug will be going back down the motorway in that one.





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