• Keeping it short

    Golf shorts debate
    Matthew Fitzpatrick and Martin Kaymer during a practise round

    Every now and then you get the impression that golf is slowly working its way into realising we’re living in the 21st century. Slowly, slowly does it, I guess.

    Members at Muirfield Golf Club again voted – call it a second referendum if you like – on whether or not to allow female members into their establishment. Last May a majority felt it was too soon to open their doors, but then again, that was 2016. It’s now 2017 and those same Muirfield members are taking one small step for man, but one giant leap for womankind.

    In Scotland, that is.

    Over the pond in the US, the PGA announced that in August – once making a decision, you can’t rush these things, you know – professionals will be able to wear shorts. Not in real tournament competition, of course, but in practice rounds.

    Imagine the scandal if they had to go all the way and relax the law for the tournament itself – or even if they gave the pros the option, so those who wanted to bare their legs in public could, and those who wanted to stay covered up also had that right. We don’t want to venture too quickly into the realms of those other professional sports like tennis, rugby, football, boxing and athletics now, do we?

    The great irony is that a player can strip virtually naked and play a shot, just as Shawn Stefani did at the Honda Classic in Florida
    in February. During the second round he found the water and took off all his gear, apart from a set of white boxers, and played
    a shot at the 6th hole.

    So, here you have a rule that says pros can’t play in shorts, yet they can play in nothing but boxer shorts.

    It’s silly, in the extreme.

    When Christo Lamprecht lifted the SA Amateur title at Humewood in February, he wore shorts, while the man he beat 7 & 6 in that 36-hole final, Caylum Boon, was in long pants. Naturally, there are different rules and requirements for amateurs and professionals, but did the world cave in, seeing one golfer in a pair of shorts and one in longs?

    And, to complete the idiocy of the men in suits who come up with the rules and regulations, they are happy to accept that the women pros can play in shorts.

    Golf is played almost all year round in all parts of the world and many times, in extreme heat and humidity, sweat marks in unmentionable areas are seen. Is the sight of men in shorts really more unedifying than that?

    Still, we’ll wait until August to see if the decision to allow men to practise in shorts before the PGA Championship has the public, media and Donald Trump in an international outcry.

    The world has moved on. Golf should try doing the same some time.

      This column first appeared in the April 2017 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine

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