Jeff Vrabel: On golf, and extremely colorful pants

There are a great many reasons no one wants me on a golf course. One of them is that I look ridiculous in purple.There are a great many reasons no one wants me on a golf course. One of them is that I look ridiculous in purple.

I should start by saying that with apologies to both my mom and Jim Furyk, I’ve never really been into golf. This is for one extremely simple, profound reason: I am terrible at golf. I am terrible at it in grave, hideous fashion. I am terrible at it in ways that make it so you can actually watch my 7-year-old lose respect for me in real time, in ways that should be sung about by Tom Waits, in ways that if our culture somehow celebrated the appearance of playing golf as though you’re being repeatedly jabbed in the brain with an electric toothbrush, I would be totally winning.

It’s not, I should make clear, for lack of trying. Once, at a driving range, I literally hit a ball that ended up — and I’m still not entirely sure how the physics worked on this — beneath my car, which was interesting, since the car was about 30 feet away, and also behind me. On the depressingly infrequent occasions when I managed to orient the ball in the direction I was facing already, it would most often fly in a reasonably straight line for about 20 feet, then stop dead, make an inexplicable right turn and promptly careen into whatever was off to the right: forest, batting cage, birthday party, pile of angry alligators, whatever.

But here’s my other thing with golf, and, again, I’m an outsider, so please correct me if I’m wrong: Average pinheads like me can attend, say, a baseball game. We can go see basketball in street clothes. But I’m not sure I can ever adapt to golf’s established, tradition-filled world based almost entirely — and I apologize if this sounds discriminatory — on my taste in pants.

Now, I enjoy pants, and if I try to wear them every day (it’s hard, with the economy). But I like to keep to a pretty consistent color scheme, which ranges from jeans to slightly darker jeans to pre-“distressed” jeans that are supposed to appear as though they’ve spent a good bit of time underneath a carnival. (My 7-year-old, last week: “Why are you buying pants that have holes already?”)

Golfers, meanwhile, adhere to an entirely different set of regulations, one which has little regard for the commonly accepted palette of male pants possibilities and, occasionally, appears to have originated from somewhere in Candyland.

Clearly, this is kind of a big deal. On Hilton Head, golf is probably the secondmost popular recreational activity, the first being ignoring anything resembling generally accepted driving laws, and the few times I’ve ventured into the golf world, I’ve been amazed at the rainbow of colors that confronted me; it is like wandering into a party thrown by Skittles. In just one Heritage night out a few years back, I spotted three grown men wearing salmoncolored pants, one wearing Oompa Loompaorange shorts with little marlins on them, one guy with a pink shirt/green shorts combo that made him look very much like a watermelon and one guy with a pair of yellow pants, aviator shades, a popped collar AND a cigar. I’m pretty sure he won.

So my question to golfers is this: Why is it that during the week you are sharp, professional, mild-mannered citizens, yet when you hit the links you are allowed to dress in a manner that would suggest you’re preparing to enter a Volkswagen with 17 of your friends? At what point do you regard yourself in the mirror, realize you’re wearing orange shorts emblazoned with fi sh, and think, “It’s time.” HELP ME UNDERSTAND YOU. And in return, I’ll try not to damage your car at the driving range. No promises, though.