Wearing shorts causes a stir in professional golf

By Jason SobelOctober 12, 2012, 2:35 pm

Before you read this column, allow me to make a confession: I'm not wearing any pants.

Oh, come on. It's not what you're thinking. I've got shorts on. And no, those aren’t a couple of OB stakes under my desk.

Shedding leggings is a relevant topic this week, as the eight Turkish Airlines World Golf Final competitors were given an option and half of ‘em sold short on wearing long pants, instead showing off their chicken legs in Turkey.

Those who chose to go out on – and with – a couple of limbs provided observers with the naked truth. Seeing a pro golfer in shorts is sports' version of Scooby Doo and the gang unmasking a criminal. 'Oh, so that's who was really under there!'

The exhibition served as a stark contrast to the PGA Tour, where earning membership is like an invitation to the Pants Party.

Why can’t competitors show some leg in professional tournaments? The reigning rationale is that it looks unprofessional. Try using that excuse on your favorite lifeguard, UPS driver, mailman or NBA player. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, those guys all do it with their shorts on.

So, too, do golfers. From juniors to collegians to amateurs of all levels, brandishing gams is part of the game. Even the pros get a leg up – when nobody’s watching. Phil Mickelson was photographed practicing at The Olympic Club this year in Bermuda shorts that looked a bit Bermuda rough. Last year, Tim Petrovic qualified for the U.S. Open in a pair of cargos that had more zippers than his golf bag.

When the cameras are on and the fans are behind the gallery ropes, though, there is no Celebrity Skin, to quote the alternative rock band Hole – obviously fervent golf fans with a name like that.

Irony of all ironies, an Internet search for “PGA Tour + shorts” procures a lengthy list of Size 38 pleated khakis that are currently for sale in the organization’s online store. Just don’t wear ‘em to the first tee the next time you find yourself competing in an event.

“We have no plans to change our policy on player attire,” PGA Tour executive vice president Ty Votaw says on the matter.

Pants are never an issue until a certain woman deems them too confining.

That woman, of course, is Mother Nature, who on any given day can turn up the heat and turn a nice pair of slacks into her own personal Easy-Bake Oven.

Prior to last year’s Viking Classic, longtime PGA Tour member Joe Ogilvie tweeted: “I've got 14 players and we are all wearing shorts during Viking Classic. Any other tour players with me? They can't DQ us all can they?” He followed with another jab: “114 heat index in Jackson, MS today, who are the idiots in long pants this week? Tour pros.”

Such a heated exchange from any player would have raised eyebrows, but it meant even more coming from one who fancies himself PGA Tour commissioner someday. Given a chance to cool off, Ogilvie explained his reasoning this week.

“I’m certainly a proponent of it for when we’re in Jackson, Miss., in August. I think that just makes too much sense,” he says. “I get the traditions of the game; I get why we don’t allow it in our full-field events. There’s something about the professionalism that gets lost. Now since I advocated for it in Mississippi, I guess you can call me a hypocrite.”

Or just hot and more than a little bothered.

Even so, the Players Advisory Council member since 1999 doesn’t expect any changes soon – even when temps soar higher than a hacker’s score.

“I think that’s way, way, way down on the totem pole,” he admits. “I don’t think anyone cares.”

It was only 13 years ago that PGA Tour caddies were first allowed to wear shorts – and even that was implemented because of a mistake. Caddying for John Maginnes in the third-to-last group at the sweltering Western Open, Garland Dempsey suffered a heart attack in the middle of Cog Hill’s 15th fairway.

“The Tour thought it was heat exhaustion,” recalls Maginnes, now an announcer for Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio. “So the next week at the John Deere Classic, where it was 400 degrees, the caddies were finally allowed to wear shorts for the first time.”

In professional golf, the shorts story is a short story. This week’s tourney in Turkey is an exception to the rule – or an exhibition against the cruel, as the case may be.

'It’s good fun,” explains Lee Westwood, one of the quartet who partook in the offer. “Something different.'

Just don’t expect it to become a leg-wide sensation.

As for me, I’m still depantsed and loving it. I intend to continue living by Albert Einstein’s theory that stated, “The legs are the wheels of creativity.”

I only ask for one favor. Please stop checking out my OB stakes.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.