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  • Alistair Tait

Time for Golf To Leg It

Would the world have reacted in horror if Collin Morikawa had won the 149th Open at Royal St George’s dressed in a pair of tailored shorts?

Of course not.

Quite why the top professionals are not allowed to wear shorts in competition in 2021 is a complete mystery. It’s surely time for our game to let elite players bare their legs in competitive rounds? After all, the vast majority of the 32,000 fans who turned up for each of the four rounds arrived in shorts. Seeing players in similar dress wouldn't have ruined their experience one wee bit. Indeed, it might have enhanced it.

Players at Royal St George’s were allowed to wear shorts on practice days, but had to don long trousers for competition rounds. That policy first came into existence for the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush. Of course few, if any, took advantage of the new shorts policy considering the temperatures on the Causeway Coast two years ago.

The European Tour has a shorts policy for practice rounds but mandates players wear long trousers in competitive rounds. That’s the case on the European Senior Tour, too. The logic behind this makes no sense whatsoever. Why practice rounds only?

Answers on a postcard please.

Shorts have been allowed in practice rounds at Sunningdale Golf Club this week as players prepare for the Senior Open Championship, but competitors must wear long trousers to play competitive rounds.

I'm told the European Senior Tour makes an exception for events in Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar, allowing shorts in competition rounds. That makes sense given the temperatures in those parts of the world. The current heat wave we’re experiencing in the UK might not reach the same temperatures as the above regions, but with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius in the South of England, I know for a fact players would love to play in shorts at Sunningdale this week.

As the tweet from Peter Finch below shows, competitors in this week’s English PGA Championship at Bowood Golf Club aren’t happy at having to play in long trousers. No offence, but I can’t see this event garnering huge galleries, just friends and family. I’m sure they would take no offence if their loved ones opted to get a little air around their legs.

I covered the Senior Amateur at glorious Ganton Golf Club two weeks ago. Many competitors gladly wore shorts. Guess what? The world didn’t come to an end. There wasn’t a huge turn out to watch the best over 55-year-old amateurs, but still a decent enough gallery for this low key event. Fans didn't look away in horror because men were displaying knobbly knees.

As the #JustSaying quote below reveals, Greg Norman long ago lobbied for men to wear shorts but to no avail. Seems strange in these days of equality for all that this is one area where men are disadvantaged.

Actually, if Morikawa had won while wearing a pair of shorts, it probably would have been seen as cool by younger audiences. Aren’t we trying to grow the game?

Bet you the members of the R&A’s championship committee responsible for the rules governing play in The Open returned to their clubs this week in the warm glow of staging a successful championship, and happily changed into shorts to play their home clubs without giving it a second thought.

It’s time to end this glaring anachronism and bring golf into the 21st century. Men’s exposed knees and calves aren’t offensive in any way whatsoever. Let the top men copy the world’s best women and let them play in shorts. The world won’t come to an end.

#JustSaying: “We should be allowed to wear shorts. God almighty, women are allowed to wear them, and we’ve got better legs than they do.” Greg Norman

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