Johannesburg (AFP) - Male golfers will be allowed to wear shorts instead of trousers this week for the first time in a European Tour event due to high temperatures expected at an event in South Africa.
Temperatures of 37 degrees celsius (98.6 fahrenheit) are forecast for the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday during the 2020 season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Competitors will have to contend with 38 degrees celsius heat on Saturday before the temperature drops to 31 degrees for the final round on Sunday.
The tournament is being staged in northeastern South Africa at the Leopard Creek Country Club, which borders the famed Kruger National Park wildlife reserve.
While female golfers wear shorts on the European, Asian and American tours, males have always worn shoes, trousers, a golf shirt and, usually, a cap when competing on those circuits.
Since 2016, males have been permitted to wear shorts during practice rounds on the European Tour, but trousers had to be worn during the four rounds of a competition.
Four-time major winner Ernie Els from South Africa welcomed the historic decision, which was reached after talks between the golfers, European Tour officials and the host club.
"It is very nice when common sense comes into play," said the two-time winner of both the British Open and US Open championships and a star attraction in the Dunhill field.
- 'Right thing to do' -
"It is going to get close to 40 degrees (celsius) here and it is the right thing to do. It has been talked about for so long on all of the tours around the world.
"Johann Rupert (owner of Leopard Creek) is always a man who is forward thinking and I think this could be a game-changer for golf that could enhance the product."
Selwyn Nathan, commissioner of the South African Sunshine Tour, which organises the tournament with the European Tour, also hailed the decision to permit shorts.
"We are very grateful to the European Tour for supporting this decision, and we are excited about it," he said.
"The game has moved on, golf fashion has moved on, and even the weather here in Africa has changed.
"We are playing under beautiful sunshine, and as long as the dress code conforms with that of the club, then I think it will look very good."
European Tour director David Williams was equally supportive of the 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, so the feedback from the players has certainly been positive."