Millions in guaranteed contracts. Private jets. Swanky hotels. Caddies treated like royalty. It’s all attractive, sure. But the shorts? How could LIV Golf leave out what might have been its most valuable recruiting tool of all?
CEO Greg Norman posted on LIV’s Twitter account on Friday that his golfers would be allowed to wear shorts during competition, starting with the second round on Saturday in the event outside of Boston.
We jest about the incentive, of course, but shorts have been a subject of debate for a number of years in men’s golf. Women have sported shorts in tournaments for decades, but they’ve been banned on the men’s side since, well, the days of Old Tom Morris.
PGA Tour players often wear shorts in practice rounds, but not in pro-ams or on tournament days. For some, it has seemed like an archaic tradition, considering the swampy heat the players face at many of the nation’s summer tour venues. Caddies are spared and have been wearing shorts on tour since 1999. Why not their bosses? And Phil Mickelson has basically made a cottage industry over his muscular (yet hyped) calves.
Mickelson got to dispaly them on Saturday and was among 19 of the 48 players to go bare-legged on a rather pleasant 78-degree September day in Bolton, Mass.
“I think this is a long time coming in the game of golf,” Mickelson said after his round of two-under 68—only his second effort in the 60s since joining LIV. “I think it just takes a disruptor like LIV to get things done. … I have a lot of friends on tour and I hope for their sake the tour follows. … It feels good. It’s more comfortable.”
Mickelson was asked if he had influence on the decision. “I might have given input,” he replied.
We at Golf Digest staged a debate about this very subject in May 2020—we were desperate for something to do during the pandemic shutdown—with writers E. Michael Johnson and Dan Rapaport facing off.
Rapaport argued for shorts, opening: “Virtually all of today’s tour players are athletes by any definition. They have fitness plans and nutrition regimens. Athletes wear shorts. It sounds simple, but try to think of another sport that requires its participants to wear pants. There aren’t any. Actually, cricket does. But there’s a reason we don’t play that one in America.”
Countered Johnson: “Well, for starters baseball players wear pants last I looked. Funny pants, but at least not shorts, which makes it, well, cricket, in my opinion. Fashion does evolve. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing (see: shirts, Ryder Cup, 1999 or pretty much anything John Daly wears). I mean, even Rickie Fowler was smart enough to realize those joggers and ridiculous shoes he was wearing were more fool-looking than cool-looking after a while.”
The debate raged on, but you get the idea.
So, it would seem as if the LIV vs. PGA Tour rivalry has one more wrinkle. What say you, Tiger and Rory?