I was wrong. I always said the PGA Tour wouldn't let caddies wear shorts until one of us died. Well, Garland Dempsey, John Maginnes's caddie, nearly died after collapsing from heat exhaustion during the Motorola Western Open. Thank god he survived. I believe it was this incident that prompted the Tour to give the caddies a three-week trial period, ending at this week's Buick Open, during which we could wear knee-length, khaki shorts whenever the heat index topped 100. But my colleagues and I wonder: Why only a test? And what took the Tour so long?
I've been on the Tour for 31 years, and I've always been a crusader for the right to wear shorts. In 1982 my luggage got lost while I was flying to the Hall of Fame Tournament at Pinehurst, and my pro, Bobby Clampett, gave me some white shorts to wear. Tour officials flipped out, but after I explained the circumstances, they let me wear them. A short time afterward Deane Beman suspended me for two weeks and gave Bobby a $200 fine.
I didn't defy the powers that be again until the 1996 PGA at Valhalla. Two caddies got sick from the heat during practice rounds, so Scott Jones, the brother and caddie of Steve, and I decided to take a stand and wear shorts during the tournament. We got through one hole before the PGA of America threatened us and we were forced to put on pants. (In '97 the USGA showed more enlightenment by allowing shorts at the U.S. Open.)
I know Tour commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't like having us in shorts, but I hope he and the policy board make the shorts rule permanent. I bet if Tim were out here carrying a bag six hours a day, 30 weeks a year, he'd want to wear shorts, too.