Hate to be Rude: The Tour's facial hair history

Johnson Wagner holds the trophy after winning the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club.

Johnson Wagner holds the trophy after winning the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club.

Stories about Johnson Wagner winning the Sony Open wasted little time mentioning that he was sporting a mustache, one that he grew during golf’s 10-minute offseason. Perhaps not since Cigar Guy at the Wales Ryder Cup in 2010 has a mustache been so front and center in golf.

Having had facial hair since the 1970s, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. But then, unlike other sports, the gentlemanly game of golf, at least in modern times, has never been overrun by ’staches, Fu Manchus, goatees, beards, soul patches, chin straps, Van Dykes, muttonchops, stubble and other types of whiskers.

This isn’t Hollywood. And Johnny Depp doesn’t play the PGA Tour, although Hunter Mahan tries to look like him.

Golf isn’t just a gentleman’s game; it’s a clean-shaven one, for the most part.

Decades ago, word was then-Tour commissioner Deane Beman didn’t want to hire anyone with facial hair.

One year at a British Open at St. Andrews, David Duval was sporting a goatee when he walked into an ancient historical building and encountered Arnold Palmer sitting with longtime agent Alistair Johnston. Palmer wasted little time in giving Duval grief about his blond whiskers. Palmer’s point was that facial hair doesn’t have a place in golf.

Right about then, Johnston couldn’t resist. “Arnold, turn around and look at all the pictures on the wall behind you,” he said. Johnston was referring to numerous framed photographs of Open Championship winners from the 1800s – men such as Old Tom Morris, Young Tom Morris and Willie Park, all of whom had some sort of facial follicles sprouting creatively.

Laughter ensued.

“Arnold’s as cool as they come,” Duval says now.

In the same century that golf gave us the Morrises, Abraham Lincoln supposedly grew a beard because an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell wrote to him saying he’d look better with one.

Razors have come a long way since, particularly in golf.

Wagner says he’s putting his shaver aside for a few months, even though he is catching a large load of teasing from friends. He says his friends back home call him “Juan” or “Carlos.”

“I guess they think I look Latin,” he said.

Stereotypes aside, here’s the for-the-record golf truth: Carlos Franco wears a mustache; Juan Rodriguez does not.

To each his own, I say. Since golf has been cloning for years – particularly in regard to apparel and equipment – the game is enhanced rather than hurt by different styles. They can add pizzaz or enhance a character.

Without a mustache, Craig Stadler wouldn’t be the Walrus. Stadler’s bushy ’stache is arguably golf’s most famous as well as most profitable. Reasonable thought says the unique look is part of his commercial appeal and has been a boon to his bottom line.

You might say he has koo-koo-ka-chooed all the way to the bank.

Over the years in Europe, Sam Torrance has set the standard with regard to hair above the upper lip. The look fits Torrance, both his face and his playful persona.

Interesting thing, comedians shy away from facial hair because it would hide their contortions (Jim Carrey needs to be clean shaven). But, on the other hand, some of golf’s funniest people cover parts of their faces with hair.

David Feherty long has trotted out various versions of a goatee. His comedic sidekick, Gary McCord, long has had a handle on the handlebar mustache. Andres Gonzales, the 2012 Tour rookie with the oversized Fu Manchu, tweets humor regularly, often directed at Tiger Woods. Speaking of Woods, he’s sometimes funny off camera and dabbles at goatees.

It’s this simple: Facial hair works on some and not on others. Sometimes it’s amazing how different a person looks with or without it.

And how someone might resemble a character or creature.

When last seen, a mustachioed Geoff Ogilvy passed for Inspector Clouseau.

With that longtime skinny mustache, Jay Don Blake could play a movie role in any western, including “True Grit,” and would look perfect in a bolo tie.

Lucas Glover with a beard could fill in for Grizzly Adams.

And back when he had black curly hair and a full mustache, Corey Pavin resembled either Tony Orlando or a rat.

The latter was particularly the case when it was raining.

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