Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Oh no! Not Shorts!

Published

on

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?

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour talk” forum.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Long & the Shorts of It: Ashworth Golf’s Pants Petition | Golf Threads

  2. Ryan K

    Oct 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Great point. I would like to see them scrap this rule. Not to mention what a boost this would be to apparel companies. They would move a lot more shorts off the racks if tour pros were wearing them. I think golf needs to become more athletic and appeal more to kids. That’s the only way we’re going to grow the game and attract the best young talent. Make the game faster and more athletic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Podcasts

Gary Player joins our 19th Hole podcast, talks past and future of golf

Published

on

Hall-of-Famer and career Grand Slam winner Gary Player joins host Michael Williams for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament and Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. Player talks about the past and future of the game, including his take on everything from reigning in the golf ball and golf courses, to advocating for more testing for performance enhancing drugs on the Tour. Steve Friedlander of Big Cedar Lodge also appears.

Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Let’s Retire Old Man Par: A Modest Proposal

Published

on

In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A modest proposal,” in which he suggested that the Irish eat their own children. As might be expected, the piece drew a great deal of discussion and controversy. He was of course not serious, but simply attempting to make a point. As you will read this piece contains “A Modest Proposal” as well, but it is not intended to be satirical. I am for the record dead serious.

The golf industry is wringing its hands, trying to find a way to bring new players into the game, while at the same time keeping those that are in the game from leaving. They have initiated any number of programs designed for this purpose. How successful have they been? I would venture that they have barely moved the needle.

Barriers to the game

What we do know is that today there are three major barriers that confront the industry. They are first, the time required to play the game; second the costs associated with playing the game; and third the difficulty of the game.

There are among those adults that start the game, three distinct different groups:

  1. Those who would like to start playing golf but for any number of reasons decided not to take up the game.
  2. Those who once played more frequently but have reduced the number of rounds that they play.
  3. Those who started to play the game but then after a short period decided to leave it.

Those who leave the game

Those in the golf industry, the hand-wringers, have developed any number of programs to bring new players to the game. I would ask the question, “What is the point, when almost an equal number of players that start playing the game each year, decide to give it up within a span of a few months.

Does it make any sense to continue to put water into a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom? Of course not, but that is effectively what is being done. The first question to be ask, why do these new players quit the playing after a short time? In my opinion, the number No. 1 reason is the method of scoring being used.

Were an exit poll to be conducted asking these people why they quit playing, I seriously doubt they would answer truthfully. Who would want to admit that they were discouraged by their inability to succeed at any endeavor? The two answers that would be given the most often would be 1) that golf is too expensive to play; or 2) that they simply didn’t have time.  In this case both answers serve to preserve the individual’s dignity. And who could blame them?

The concept of par

Why did these individuals find the game difficult? The short answer is that while golf is a hard game to learn, there  is a more compelling reason.  I would venture, that the underlying reason they quit the game is that it ceased to be fun because of how they viewed their performance. And for one central reason… the concept of par. The idea that an amateur golfer, especially a beginner, should measure their level of success against an imaginary set of numbers that represents what an expert player would score on each hole is on the surface ridiculous.

You might imagine a beginning player scoring an eight on a par-four hole after hitting six good shots and then two putting for an eight. In the context of their ability, they should be ecstatic — but of course they are not (because as their playing partner reminds them) they were four-over par on that hole. The time has come for Old Man Par to retire. And retire permanently. He is killing the game.

Perceived failure

In another scenario, the beginning player scores sixty for nine holes, which is an excellent score given the short amount of time they might have spent playing the game. And yet their nine-hole score was 24-over par. How would that make you feel? Would you be encouraged or discouraged? You might imagine yourself back in school and regardless of the amount of work that you put into a given class you always receive an “F.” At some point, would you give up?

Why should every golfer be judged by the same standard when there is such inequality in their ability? The equivalent would be placing a high school freshman in a graduate-level college course, expecting that they could perform at the same level as the other graduate students. The disparity in knowledge, based on age and experience, is precisely the reason why there are different grades in school. The same disparity exists among golfers. In this case, the difference being the ability to perform on the golf course as opposed to the classroom.

What about the second group of players that now plays less than they did in the past? Could it be that they are no longer having fun playing the game?And then there is the third group, those that consider playing the game but abandon it for another sport. Could it be that they are intimidated by the scoring system, knowing that as a beginner par is an absolute impossibility?

Old man par 

The legendary Bobby Jones was the first to coin, perhaps with the help of his friend O.B. Keillor, the phrase “Old Man Par.” Jones was, of course, the greatest amateur to have ever played the game. He won the Grand Slam in 1930, retiring then at the age of 28.

The time has come to retire “Old Man Par” and devise a new system for measuring a golfer’s progress in the game. I know that those in the USGA. would reject the concept immediately for fear of, and here is a $10 word used primarily by attorneys, “bifurcate” the game. What that word essentially means in this context in having more than one standard. The USGA is responsible for preserving the nature of the game, but at the same time it should be equally concerned with preserving the future of the game.

Personal par

What I would suggest is a system based on the principle of what might be termed “personal par.” This was essentially the system that was used to groom a young Tiger Woods. As a young child, he was not capable of reaching the longer holes in regulation, making par a virtual impossibility. Consequently, his coach wisely devised a system in which par was adjusted upward based on his ability at a given point in time. This served to keep the young child feeling good about his performance and subsequent progress.

This is the type of system that needs to be devised for the health of the game. The system would begin at a nine-hole level using a par of thirty-six as a basis. The actual numbers are not as important as the basic concept. There would be within the nine-hole and the eighteen-hole groups five different levels as follows with assigned par for each hole and eighteen holes roughly equal with the player’s ability.

As players improved, they would graduate from one level to another based on their total score. The handicap system would work in similar fashion as it does now with a single modification. The strokes give from one player to another would depend on the level in which they fall and the par assigned to that level.

The personal par handicap system would not be as exacting as it is presently used, but it would be sufficient to allow players to be reasonable competitive without any significant sacrifice. There would then be two scoring systems then, allowing players to choose which one they wanted to use. Or a recommendation might be given that until they reach a given scoring threshold that they use the personal par scoring system.

There would, of course, be the usual concern with something new being injected into the system, but the proposed change would be no greater than when the system of equitable scoring was introduced or when courses were first assigned a course rating number.

A few years ago, when life-long teacher and educator Dr. Gary Wiren was inducted into the Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame, he wanted to pass along a single piece of advice to those teachers in the room. “Gentleman,” he started and then paused for emphasis. “We must find a way to make the game more fun for our students.”

I’m in full agreement with Dr. Wiren. The question is, “What is the best way to accomplish that goal?” I believe that that the first step in that direction is to change the scoring system so that golfers experience more satisfaction and accomplishment. That is what makes learning fun.

And so, I would have you consider “The Modest Proposal” that I have put forward. And rather than attempting to find reasons why a revised scoring system couldn’t never work, for the benefit of the game, look for the same number of reason why it could work. The time has come for Old Man Par, as we know him, to retire. He has served us well, but he has become an anarchism. He is as obsolete as the horse and buggy. Let’s hand him his gold watch and let him enjoy his golden years in peace.

And at the same time, let’s welcome the “new kid on the block” who will pave the way for the next generation of golfers pioneering a scoring system that promises to make the game more “fun.”

Your Reaction?
  • 65
  • LEGIT8
  • WOW0
  • LOL2
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP10
  • OB10
  • SHANK108

Continue Reading

Podcasts

TG2: What’s the most annoying breach of golf etiquette?

Published

on

What’s the one breach of golf etiquette that gets under your skin more than anything else? Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what drives them crazy. Also, Knudson talks about his first round with new irons and a new shaft in his driver.

Follow @tg2wrx on Instagram to enter the Bettinardi inovai 5.0 center-shaft putter giveaway.

Listen to the full podcast below on SoundCloud, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP4
  • OB0
  • SHANK14

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending