There was one thing every golfer had in common at last year’s PGA Championship, and it wasn’t their ability. Every player walked off the 18th green wearing trousers and you can be certain there was an abundance of ‘swamp a$$’ on show as the thermometer tipped 94 degrees.
At the ‘Eurasia Cup’ – like the Ryder Cup for Europeans and Asians, just one hundred times less important- players were allowed to wear shorts as they navigated the course in the sweltering Malaysian heat. What a victory for common sense, luckily the golfing elders are nowhere near Kuala Lumpur to instill their idiocy.
For some inexplicable reason the powers that be feel it’s ‘improper’ for professional golfers to wear shorts. In fact they’re so immovable that it took a caddie to collapse with a heart attack for bagmen to finally be granted the freedom to wear what they pleased, and that was in 1999! How scandalous. This typifies the PGA TOUR and their pointlessly rigid philosophy that lives in the past.
This archaic attitude is shared throughout the golfing world . “I’m not a big fan of it,” said Chris Tidland, a guest on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. “I think it looks unprofessional, looks like you’re with your buddies on a week off, playing at your local course,” commenting after the European Tour allowed shorts to be worn at the Turkish Airlines Open.
Why do people think that golf is some sort of pantheon for the smartly dressed when every sport has, at some point or other, demanded the same from their professionals. The only difference is that we allow ourselves to be convinced otherwise, that golf is the honourable anomaly where kids are so behaviourally maligned the only antidote is a good pair of chinos – what utter garbage! Why do people talk about the dress code like they’re protecting some sort of sacred tradition when research will tell you it’s nothing but a self perpetuating cycle of mythology.
The dress code in golf has always evolved, yes Old Tom Morris played in a jacket and tie but that was 140 years ago. Just look at how far the dress code has come since the pre-war days.
What do you think Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan thought about players in the 60’s choosing to wear a polo in preference to a tie and plus-fours?
They probably thought, ‘what a great idea, trying to swing a golf club in a waistcoat and jacket was a f**king nightmare!’ Not ‘this is an outrage, golf is a sport based on dressing smartly’. Preaching about the fabric of golf being ‘eroded’ by casual dress is a bit like saying you get seven years of bad sex for not looking someone in the eye when you clink glasses. Yes it’s common practice, but surely there’s a problem if your prowess in the bedroom hinges on a bit of social etiquette. Golf’s the same, our sport has so much to offer without such importance being placed on constructed dressing conventions. Is it really a cornerstone of our sport? What about the honesty of scoring, or the camaraderie of matchplay, perhaps the sportsmanship it engenders, but no, people say dressing ‘smartly’ is what distinguishes us from other sports. Give me a break!
Insisting that players wear trousers just adds to the narrative that golf is a pernickety, unappealing country club leisure activity for those who had the privilege of knowing about the importance of a ‘smart dress code’. Not true of course, but that is how it’s viewed by many people.
We should encourage golf to reflect the chosen styles of the vast majority of participants. Maintaining this pointless distinction between the amateur and professional is counterproductive to people forming a positive perception about the game. We are seeing the likes of Rory, Rickie and Jordan wearing outfits that improve their ability to swing the club athletically- and of course Rickie rocking high-tops just for shits – so why not go a step further and allow the players to wear shorts?
The USGA just announced 10 of the biggest rules changes in golf history: