In extreme temperatures the European Tour broke new ground by letting the players wear shorts – but this shouldn't be a one-off move
In a few weeks’ time we’ll all come to the end of another decade and pat one another on the back as to how golf is moving nicely with the times. At the top of the tree we have a collection of out-and-out athletes who, when they’re not showing us videos of themselves working out or lifting weights or lengthening their hamstrings or strengthening their cores, they’re hitting drives that land 320-odd yards from where club has met the ball.
The tech is amazing, the ball is out of control but, still, you and I aren’t even in the same parish as replicating it so fair play and visors off. It’s very nearly 2020 and the vision for the game is, people like to tell us, so positive.
And then we all fall over ourselves to heap praise on the authorities for allowing these heroes to – wait for it – wear shorts in temperatures of three figures. For some unearthly reason we see this as a positive for the game that it’s moving with the times and employing a bit of common sense. Just like the new Rules of Golf and the war – though it’s really more of a gentle melee – on slow play, let’s keep the game moving forwards.
Shorts or no shorts❓
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 29, 2019
The European Tour has allowed players to wear shorts for practice rounds and pro-ams since 2016. The PGA Tour adopted that same policy this year. So, until this week at Leopard Creek, you might be walking round in 100+-degree heats for five or six hours at a time with a cold towel constantly around your neck, and trying to unravel a championship course that probably measures 7,500 yards, and trying to play for your livelihood against the best of the best, but you’ll have to do it all in a pair of trousers.
Even at club level we seem to have distanced ourselves from the dark days of knee-length socks where we are instructed that we had to look like extras from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum should you want to push the envelope and take the bold move of wearing shorts.
So why, in a sport that loves to boast about its global nature and bright-skies image, have we never got to this point before? How did we manage to get through the return to the Olympics without somehow giving the players the chance to wear what they want?
This is the safest sport possible to introduce anything as risqué as introducing some shorts to proceedings. Every player has sponsors and managers and manufacturers to keep happy so we’re probably unlikely to find ourselves where they’re going to start teeing it up in a pair of tanga briefs. They’re pounding balls for hours on end every day and walking mile after mile so you might think that it’s a good look for the game.
Plenty of players will always wear trousers, hiding behind the bog-standard joke of ‘getting the out of bounds posts (legs) out’, it’s just that the others should have a choice of what they wear in any temperatures. Much as they, or any of us, should be able to wear precisely what we want to.
Going back to the start of this year some people though that the world might fall in with all of us being able to putt with the flagstick in. Maybe we should have a bit more trust in each other that, in our different ways, we all want the best for the game.