Golfers on the European Tour will be allowed to wear shorts while competing for the first time this week.
Players at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, a tournament played at Leopard Creek in Mpumalanga, east South Africa have the option to wear shorts, with temperatures in the high 30s today and Friday, and potentially as high as 40C (104F) over the weekend.
Players have been allowed to wear shorts since 2016, but only in practice rounds – a rule that still exists on the PGA Tour. At the time, Tiger Woods said the golfers play ‘in some of the hottest climates on the planet’ and called for it to be extended beyond just practise rounds.
Former world number Rory McIlroy has previously commented on the move, saying: “It makes the guys a lot more comfortable. I don't think there's anything wrong with professional golfers showing the lower half of their leg.”
While Thomas Bjorn, Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup captain, said: “Golf has been moving in this direction and because of the extreme heat we need to make it as comfortable for the players as we can.
“There are traditions in golf that will always be upheld, but we also need to try and make it easier for kids to get involved in the game and move with the times.”
Ernie Els, who grew up in Johannesburg, not far Leopard Creek, and will be playing this weekend, was one of the first to tweet about the news, saying: "It is the right thing to do and a victory for common sense.”
Not being allowed to wear shorts has been a long-standing rule across golf, as part of wanting players to “appear professional” according to the PGA. Female players on the LPGA Tour, however, are allowed to wear shorts, skorts or skirts.
As it stands, the rules only apply to this event, and were agreed upon after discussions between European Tour CEO Keith Pelley and tournament host Johann Rupert with the players competing.
Speaking ahead of the Championship, tournament director David Williams said: "We felt that in this situation it was a good move. The temperatures will increase as the week goes on, which is uncomfortable and could be a health issue for the players.
"A lot of players were concerned about it. In these temperatures it can be pretty uncomfortable out there in trousers."
While four-time major winner, Els commented: "It’s going to get up to 40 degrees here and it’s the right thing to do. It’s been talked about for so long on all of the tours around the world. I think this could be a game-changer for golf which could end up enhancing the product."
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