Golfers' fashion has come a long way

Bobby Jones (left), in formal attire, is presented with his trophy by the U.S. Golf Association's Findlay Douglas for winning the 1930 U.S. Amateur at Merion.
Bobby Jones (left), in formal attire, is presented with his trophy by the U.S. Golf Association's Findlay Douglas for winning the 1930 U.S. Amateur at Merion. (Associated Press)
Posted: June 12, 2013

If the U.S. Golf Association truly wanted to make this a throwback Open, they should have had the golfers dress the way their predecessors at Merion did.

People would pay good money, after all, to see Angel Cabrera in plus-fours.

If inspiration was required, the golfers need only to have looked at the huge photos of previous champions festooning this tournament's commercial areas.

Bobby Jones wore knickers, a long-sleeved white shirt, and a tie for many of his Merion moments, which may explain why he also needed several corn-whiskey highballs after each of his Prohibition-era rounds.

Clutching the Open trophy in 1934, Olin Dutra, in a white suit, white tie, and white shoes, looked as if he had to rush off to make his first Communion at St. Colman's in Ardmore.

In 1950, Ben Hogan's look was contemporary and casual. But in the presentation photo, his wife, Valerie, has a lei around her neck. A lei at Merion? Perhaps the Open's final day coincided with poo-poo platter night at the Veranda grill.

There's a photo of the first Open winner, Horace Rawlins, whose high collar and tweed suit leave him looking stiffer than Hogan's 1-iron.

Many of those early Open winners dressed as formally on the course as off it.

In the summer heat, Ted Ray, Harry Vardon, and Willie Anderson donned suits, vests, ties, hats, and probably long underwear. Not surprisingly, the crowds surrounding them afterward were small.

Suits gave way to mohair sweaters in the 1950s, and by the 1970s Johnny Miller was wearing pants designed by Crayola.

Poor Scotch broom

While it shares a spot on Merion's iconic logo with the red wicker baskets, it certainly doesn't share the spotlight.

While the wicker baskets have been the subject of dozens of pre-Open features, nobody ever talks or writes about the Scotch broom, clumps of which appear in several of the course's renowned bunkers.

That could be because it's a lowly weed, akin to ragweed. And it's not just any weed. As far as at least one county in Washington state is concerned, it's a Class B noxious weed.

In Thurston County, landowners can't even have any Scotch broom on their properties, which could help explain why very few in Thurston County are good bunker players.

U.S. Open limerick

The players at last got some sun.

It made all their practices fun.

But the rain will come back

To re-muddy this track.

And they'll all shoot 271.

Winners dinner

Tiger Woods dined at Merion Tuesday night at a dinner that honored 28 living U.S. Open champions.

But you get the impression he'll have a cheesesteak or two before he departs.

"This is one of the great sporting towns in the country," Woods said Tuesday. "They're passionate about all sports. We had our event at Aronimink and it was unbelievable. The fans were incredible. It was electric."

Speaking of Philadelphia fans, shouldn't Boo Weekley be their golfer of choice this week?

Other name-related questions

Does Ryan Yip shake when he putts?

Does Sang Moon Bae sail?

Does Stewart Cink make a disproportionate number of putts?

Does Lucas Glover make his own?

Does John Huh have a blank look on his face?

Is D.A. Points leading the FedEx standings?

Does Scott Stallings play slow?


Giving 'Em Fitz:

5 things overheard

at Merion

1 Mother to young son: "Do you have my visor?"

Son: "What's a visor?"

2 Son to father: "Dad, what's a merchandise check tent?"

Father: "That's the tent where they check the merchandise."

3 One young woman in rubber galoshes to another wearing sandals:

"I should have got my nails painted too."

4 Man exiting merchandise tent with a bag full of clothes:

"Five items and I spent $320. My wife can do better than that."

5 Fan to caddie trudging down the 16th fairway:

"Why won't they let you play?"

5 things not overheard

at Merion

1 "Plenty of seats available for the Tiger Woods news conference."

2 "To hell with patience. I'm going to take out my driver and bomb my way around this dog track."

3 "I just saw Wiz Khalifa in the Merion members tent."

4 "I heard Sergio ate at the KFC in Wayne last night."

5 "No, had no trouble at all getting home Monday night."


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @philafitz

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