I was planning to write this article next June during the week of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, because there’s nothing that brings the issue of tour pros wearing shorts to the forefront more than 95 degree heat with humidity in Memphis.
But the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final has managed to make this a relevant issue in mid-October. The tournament consists of eight of the top players in the world, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and the players have the option to wear shorts. During day one, several players went with the shorts option and somehow the game of golf managed to survive.
Hopefully the PGA Tour and European Tour take notice of this and reconsider their policies on not allowing shorts, at least above a certain temperature. I know some will argue that shorts go against tradition or are unprofessional. Let’s keep in mind that golf was once played in coats and ties, but the game evolved to the modern apparel of today. I’m sure there were many who claimed back then that the game would be ruined without jackets and ties.
Traditions are great, but they shouldn’t be a reason for making the same mistake over and over. During the last 30 years many changes in the game have been met with resistance. Metal drivers, graphite shafts, cavity back irons, square grooves, solid core golf balls, soft spikes and even white drivers were all supposed to ruin the tradition of the game, but the game has thrived with these innovations.
While I think pants look better, I don’t think shorts look unprofessional. Professional athletes in other sports wear shorts. Professional tennis players (another country club sport) wear shorts. Basketball players, soccer players and rugby players all wear shorts. Football players and baseball players wear pants for the purpose of protecting their legs. Last I checked, professional golfers aren’t sliding or taking hits. While it may be weird to see tour players in shorts, none of the players look unprofessional. We’re not talking about cut-offs and tank tops here. We’re talking about knee-length, well-tailored shorts.
Let’s face it. Professional dress is less formal than it was 20 years ago. Casual Friday has evolved into “casual every day.” Silicon Valley is driven by executives and venture capitalists who wear jeans, not suits. Professionalism isn’t just about how you dress. It’s how you carry yourself. I’d argue that the club throwing, cursing and spitting that we see from some of the top players threatens the professionalism of the game much more than allowing tour players to wear shorts.
Professional golf is also becoming more athletic every year, and the apparel has been changing to reflect this. Wicking fabrics have moved from the gym to course and are the standard in shirts, pants and shorts today. Barefoot running shoes have followed suit. The lines between tennis and golf apparel have become blurred. Many Nike and Adidas shirts look like they would be equally at home on the court or on the course, and professional tennis player, James Blake, wears Travis Mathew.
Giving players the option to wear shorts above a certain temperature contributes to the health and welfare of the players. Wearing long pants in hot, humid weather is not in the best interest of the players. There are frequent reports of players suffering from dehydration. While allowing shorts does not solve this issue, it would help to keep players cool. Starting in 1999, the PGA Tour allowed caddies to wear shorts. Again, the game has managed to survive and the level of professionalism has not deteriorated because of this policy change.
Last but not least, shorts would help to prevent those unsightly sweat stained trousers that make appearances during the hot and humid months. This is a much more unprofessional look than shorts in my opinion.
The Turkish Airlines World Golf Final has proven that golf has evolved and tour players can maintain a level of professionalism in while playing in shorts. What’s your opinion? Is it time for the PGA Tour and European Tour to reconsider their policies on shorts?