Caddies given short shrift over attire

Andy Farrell on a great debate over what to wear out on the course
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The Independent Online
It is no comfort to know that July was an unusually pleasant month in Louisville, with temperatures down to an average of 72F. August has taken its revenge. Through three days of practice, Valhalla was less like a paradise than an outdoor sauna.

But on competition day, the rulebook brings in an apartheid of apparel. Shorts may be de rigueur outside the ropes, inside they are a no-no. Yesterday was cooler than the previous couple, which meant temperatures in the high 80s rather than the mid-90s. It also meant that perspiration did not turn into a river of sweat for at least as long as it took to complete the first hole.

Which is when officialdom descended on the feature match of the morning's play. It is a tradition at the USPGA to group together the winners of the year's three previous majors. There was no problem with Masters champion Nick Faldo, US Open champion Steve Jones or Open champion Tom Lehman, but their caddies were showing too much kneecap.

For Fanny Sunesson, Faldo's loyal attendant, her culottes are officially sanctioned, as are Nicki Stricker's, wife of the American player Steve. "I'm lucky I can get away with it. I think everyone should be able to wear shorts. It's a physical job carrying the bag in these conditions. A lot of the men get heat rashes,'' Sunesson said.

This is a femur of contention with their male colleagues and Scott Jones, Steve's brother, and Andy Martinez took the opportunity for their own protest. It did not last long. In the shade of the second tee, hardly a secluded spot, it was off with the shorts and on with the long pants. Fanny averted her eyes.

``Who do these people think they are? We don't work for the PGA of America. I may speak to a lawyer tonight. It's ridiculous,'' Martinez said.

Ironically, the jackets and ties of the Royal and Ancient of St Andrews allow players and caddies to wear shorts, tailored and with knee-length socks, at the Open. Martinez escorted Lehman to victory at Royal Lytham last month in a pair of white shorts.

Caddies are only allowed to wear shorts on the European Tour when it makes its visits to places like Thailand. Players are also banned from wearing shorts on the Australian and South African tours, but it was allowable on the old Safari tour, and there is no objection on the South American tour.

A poll of the players would no doubt bring a unanimous feeling that they would like to wear shorts, but they know the rules. "Sure, we'd all like to wear shorts, but I'm not sure we're ready for that yet," said traditionalist Ben Crenshaw. In fact, it was Faldo who came up with the best reason a couple of years ago. "Can you imagine," Faldo pondered mischievously, "Monty in shorts?''