Justin Thomas hits a tee shot at the abrdn Scottish Open
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Over the years golf has featured some ludicrous tournament names – the Shearson Lehman Brothers Andy Williams Open, the Kissing Camels at Garden of the Gods Club Classic, the Saudi Bonesaw Challenge… Yet at least the titles have been formed with proper words and not booking references for flights or verification codes to reactivate Amazon accounts.
Here we are at the abrdn Scottish Open and there is no escaping the fact that some in the ever-more-psychedelic world of marketing were busy dropping Es during lockdown; not to mention capital letters. The effect is this attack on the grammatical senses, leaving us in a tingly and agitated state, wondering how we reached this point of vowel-restricted befuddlement. When the fog clears, we remember how … Mergers, takeovers and leftovers meant the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open of 2012-2017 morphed first into the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open of 2018-20 and now into this unprovoked and sickening onslaught on Dictionary Corner.
The rebrand’s glitzy launch – a full on “people-were-actually-paid-money-to-do-this?” spectacular – was actually in April, but only this week did it become official. And what better place to introduce “abrdn” to the stage than the enlightened realms of the East Lothians and the ever on-trend environs of golf.
“Futuristic”, they call it – and golf is exactly that. This is an entirely natural fit, apart from, perhaps, the sport’s fixation on tradition, its preoccupation with the past and enslaving to its roots. Standard Life had been in the title for almost 200 years, before Old Tom Morris could be labelled “old”. Yet out it has gone. Merciless. The reasons why are baffling. The first given was that there were concerns over copyright issues and they did not want to clash with either Aberdeen the city, or Aberdeen the football club. And that is fair enough, because it is all too easy to confuse an FTSE 100 Index investment firm headquartered in Edinburgh with a community of 230,000 people residing 130 miles north in an area sprawled over 71 square miles.
Not to mention 11 blokes kicking a ball around. Anyone who genuinely struggles with separating those concepts truly must need their finances managed. And then there is the pandering to the young, and this is the crux of this column. Apparently, children regularly drop their vowels in text-speak, so this is appealing to their communication skills.
Yet should we, as responsible adults with our responsible global conglomerates and responsible professional sporting circuits really be saying to kids, yeah, go ahead, it is great to bastardise the Queen’s English just because you cannot be bothered to utilise your finger for the odd extra millisecond?
Call me an old fud, but should we not, instead, be promoting syntax and telling them, “Spell it properly, you lazy little bggrs”? Or will they then decide to invest somewhere else – Goldie Lookin Sachs anyone? – or watch a different sport? It is OK for the broadcasters as it is still pronounced “Aberdeen”, but I will certainly not be typing this absurdity again over the forthcoming days.
It is a shame as the company is such a wonderful investor in golf, backing the Scottish game to the hilt at its grass-roots and elite levels. Without its support, it is highly doubtful that the prize fund at the Renaissance Club would be $8 million (£6.9 million) or that five of the world’s top 10 would be in attendance.
The European Tour exists through endorsements, so it is hardly going to reject a title sponsor on account of its stupid name. But it still bites and that is why, like St James’ Park was always St James’ Park and never the Sports Direct Arena, and why Cardiff City were always blue and never red, it will, to my mind, revert to the Aberdeen Standard Life Scottish Open.
So much more respectful, so much easier off the tongue, so much more “golf”.