I could feel the man behind the pro shop desk eyeing me the moment I walked through the Aspen Golf Club doors.I went through a checklist in my head. My fly is zipped. The barbecue stain on my left trouser leg is barely noticeable. My shoes match. I’m ready to hit the driving range.As the man handed me my credit card and two tokens, he paused for a moment, then spoke.”If you don’t wear a collared shirt next time, you won’t be allowed on the range,” he said. I was apologetic and a bit red in the face. Apparently my unnassuming, plain gray long-sleeved crewneck shirt proclaimed my egregious lack of respect for the sanctity of the game and my fellow golfers. (I can only imagine how he would’ve reacted had I worn my mesh tank top.) I came to my senses, however, as I passed a man wearing Wranglers and a Hawaiian shirt standing over a 10-footer on the practice green. OK, so he had a collar – the major prerequisite – but he looked like he was dressed for closing day at Aspen Highlands.I, on the other hand, looked like I had just come from communion. It wasn’t as if I was wearing a Led Zeppelin T-shirt with a cigarette burn on the sleeve or footy pajamas. The outfit, one of my finest, could’ve passed the discriminating taste of my grandfather, who routinely spends entire homilies pointing out the heathens in the first row wearing dungarees.Was Ben Hogan rolling over in his grave at the very sight of me? Would Chi Chi Rodriguez wave his putter in my face in dissent? Or does this golf course take itself a bit too seriously? This town was built on fur and tangerine one-pieces, after all. Don’t get me wrong. I respect golf and the rules. I’m more than willing to abide by what is deemed appropriate or traditional, as stipulated in most public course dress codes. I understand this is golf and not an REO Speedwagon concert. But I was there merely to hit a ball with a stick, not deliver a speech at the U.N. What’s next: Will polyester uniforms and stirrups be required at the Aspen Recreation Center batting cages? Should the potentates of the clubhouse and fairways really be entrusted with regulating what is appropriate and proper? These people, after all, think argyle is fashionable. Next time I hit the links, I’m not going to stop with the collar. There will be no doubt I’m in compliance with even the most stringent of policies. I won’t make the mistake again. I’m going to take my grandfather’s cue and go ahead and buy some traditional golfwear. (Translation: It will look like I dressed in a dark room with no mirrors.) I’ll freely mix stripes with plaids, gabardine and silk, knickers and knee-length socks, to create an outfit that says, “This guy means business – and looks strangely like a tablecloth.”I’m going to do my part to help keep the colorblind seamstresses of the world in business. If you scour the Internet long enough (I have a lot of free time), you can find an argyle sweater with mustard-yellow and lime-green diamonds; apparently Crayola has begun its foray into the golf apparel industry. Match that with a pair of knickers – they come in 20 colors and six patterns at golfknickers.com – and I’d be on to something. With a color combination like that, my golf cart would look like a parade float. And talk about versatility; I could play 18 during the early afternoon, then head over to Sardy Field to help planes land at dusk. To top it all off, I’ll pick the perfect shirt – collared, of course. I’m thinking one of those with an involved pattern, resembling a Jackson Pollock painting or one of those magic eye posters. The pace of play may be slowed while my playing partners try to find the sailboat docked directly above my belt buckle, and my ostentatious attire may distract the group putting on the adjacent green, but the game of golf would never have looked so good.Of course there will be some negatives. Detractors will point and laugh. I could go on to cure cancer or create some life-altering invention (like Easy Cheese), but I’ll forever be remembered as the pompous ass who dressed like the Lucky Charms guy at the company golf outing. And, with an outfit like this, there will no need to wear my “I’m single and ready to mingle” pin – that message will come through loud and clear. It’s a price I’d be willing to pay, however, to avoid the embarrassment of being under-dressed – And the outfit would be perfect for my night job as a cobbler. Or, for the $350 or so it would cost to outfit me in knickers, shirt and sweater vest (socks and chauffeur’s hat are included), I could purchase a $99 drink dispenser – it looks like a regulation driver yet holds 35 ounces of my beverage of choice – and a Greyhound ticket to Washington, D.C. There, I could play the blue course at the East Potomac Public Golf Course, where a shirt and shoes – preferably matching, but not obligatory – and $22 will get you a round of 18. It’s a place where how you play and having fun is more important than whether your shorts are no more than 4 inches above your knee. Now that’s my style. I think I’ll wear a T-shirt and bathing suit. It seems appropriate. If my ball goes into the water off No. 16, I’m going in after it.Jon Maletz, aka “The Hammer,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Canadian snowboarding superstar Mark McMorris is the most decorated Winter X Games athlete of all time.