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Opinion & Analysis

Oh no! Not Shorts!

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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.

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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.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Reviewing TaylorMade’s P770 Irons and SuperStroke’s Wrist Lock Putter Grip!

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Finally, I have had a full set of TaylorMade P770 irons out on the course for the last few weeks. The P770 takes a bunch of DNA from the larger P790 and packs it into a smaller size. Don’t be fooled, the smaller size still gives you a bunch of distance and forgiveness! SuperStroke’s Wrist Lock putter grip is designed to help add stability and consistency to your putting stroke. It really does give you the feeling that the putter is locked into your stroke and won’t go anywhere.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: My thoughts on single-length irons

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One of the bigger stories in golf equipment the past few years – thanks to Mr. De Chambeau – is the development of single-length irons. So, are they right for you or not? That’s a question only a fair trial can answer, but let me offer some thoughts on how your set make-up might look if you do take that direction.

First of all, the concept is not about single-length clubs — the conversation is about single-length irons. No one is playing a driver or fairway woods at the same length as their irons. Probably not even the hybrids. The putter is typically not either. So, the question is where in the set does the “single-length” begin and end?

I’ve long espoused the concept that your set of clubs (excluding the very specialized putter) should be divided into three sub-sets: Distance Clubs, Positioning Clubs, and Scoring Clubs. And generally speaking, these subsets each cover a specific range of lofts.

The Distance Clubs are those up to 20-25 degrees or so. This subset begins with your driver and encompasses your fairway woods and maybe your lowest loft hybrid or two. Your goal with these clubs is to move the ball “on out there” and put you in a place for your “positioning shot.”

The Positioning Clubs then begin after that highest loft Distance Club and take you up to 38 to 40 degrees of loft. Generally speaking, this subset would begin with your 3 or 4-iron or hybrid and go up to through your 7- or 8-iron. The goal with these clubs is to set up a reasonable putt or chip so you can get down in no more than 2-3 shots. My opinion is that it is only within this subset that “single-length” might serve you.

The Scoring Clubs – those over 38-40 degrees of loft — are the ones with which your scores will likely be determined. Long ago, I wrote several posts about the “round club mindset” when 8-irons had a more curved topline than the seven – a distinctly different look, and those 8-irons were 38 to 40 degrees. These are the clubs designed for putting the ball close enough for a makeable putt, hopefully, more often than not.

So, most conversations about single-length irons should be limited to that subset of “Positioning Clubs,” from your longest iron through that iron of 38-40 degrees. While many golfers may not see the distance separation between clubs that you would ideally like to have in that subset, others might. I’ve long observed that the distance a club can be hit is a combination of loft AND club shaft length. I just don’t see how you can get the range of distances from the longest to shortest in the set by changing loft only. I have tried several of these sets and just do not experience the distance differentials I want from that subset in my bag.

But I can certainly assure you that you simply cannot be as accurate with wedges that are 37 or 38 inches in length as you can with those clubs being 35 to 36 inches. It’s simple golf club physics. With very few exceptions, the shorter the club, the narrower your distance dispersion is going to be.

Consider that a “wide” shot with a 45-inch driver might be 30-40 yards off-line, while even the worst “wide” shot with your 35-and-three-quarter-inch pitching wedge is not likely to be more than 15 yards offline. In between, your lateral dispersion is progressively narrower as the shaft length is reduced.

So, I just cannot see why anyone would want to make their wedges the same length as their 5- or 6-iron, 37.5 to 38 inches, and give up the naturally more accurate dispersion that the shorter shaft delivers.

I am looking forward to hearing from those of you who have tried single-length irons and longer wedges to share your experiences.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Sharing some time with one of the best PGA Professionals in America

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Meet Jimmy Stewart. From his early childhood junior days in Singapore and Thailand, to golf course and driving range operator in California. We talk Turkey, where the game was, where it is and to where it’s going.

 

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