News & Opinion

Don't expect PGA Tour to follow Europeans' lead on shorts

Hawk & Rude place long odds on shorts being allowed by U.S. tour

Hawk & Rude Hero Banner Article

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Jeff Rude are co-hosts of a weekly podcast, Hawk & Rude, in which they discuss and debate the hottest issues in golf. They also share their takes in this weekly installment.

Given that players were allowed to wear shorts at last week’s European Tour event in South Africa, where do you stand on the notion that the PGA Tour might someday follow suit?

Hawk’s take: After watching a bit of the European Tour tournament and weighing the “comfort factor” vs. the uncompromising value of tradition, my eyes provided the answer to this fashionable facilitation. Simply put, I don’t like the look. Tour pros competing in any nation, especially those fortunate enough to play every week in the U.S. for $8 million in prize money, should dress the part, and long pants are part of the uniform. It’s not much different than asking an NFL linebacker to wear the same-colored jersey as his teammates or requiring a doctor to wear that green hospital garb while he tears out your appendix.

I don’t see the PGA Tour adopting such a measure any time soon, even in conditions involving extreme heat, owing to the premise that looking like a professional and acting like a professional are (almost) as important as performing like a professional. A classy pair of trousers is part of the Camp Ponte Vedra brand. And when a T-18 is likely to make you somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000, not only do you show up in the proper attire, you don’t find even half a reason to complain about it.

Private clubs don’t let a 12-handicap wear dungarees en route to shooting a 94. Even when the temperature climbs to that same number, there are certain standards that never should go out of style. Kind of like a pair of khakis or a sweat-stained visor.

Rude’s take: Tour attire already has been relaxed over the past decade or so, what with the tennis-shoe style and form-fitting performance pants, plus the allowance of shorts in practice rounds and pro-ams this year. But we can halt the dumbing down of traditional dress and decorum right there because viewings of hairy legs white as OB stakes would not benefit the value of the PGA Tour and its players, would not enhance the product or image, would run counter to respected high standards.

Like other sports, professional golf always has had a recognizable uniform. Allowing shorts wouldn't jibe with dressing appropriately for the occasion. Central here is a big business constantly wooing corporate sponsors. The Tour is playing for nearly $376 million this season.

The CEO doesn’t wear cutoff shorts to a board meeting, nor a groom bib overalls to his wedding. Then there’s the job applicant. “You might not want to go to a job interview wearing Bermuda shorts,” former Tour commissioner Deane Beman, an opponent of shorts in practice and pro-ams, told me Wednesday. “And you might want to shave and wear a tie.”

Looking like a pro might even help someone perform like one. As Raymond Floyd often has said, “Dress like hamburger, play like hamburger.”