Chris BaldwinThis Week at November 29, 2005

Is Fred Funk wearing a skirt
what pro golf needs in 2005?

Every male hacker who's unleashed a wicked sideways slice or a towering popup that kept going and going until it finally plopped back down - right behind him - knows what coming up short of the ladies tees on your drive is bound to unleash. The jokes can bring you back to junior high.

Somebody might suggest that the offender play the rest of the hole with his pants around his ankles. (Why some golfers would be so eager to see that always struck me as a little strange, but hey whatever floats your 9 iron.) The point is there's shame to be had and belly chuckles to be let loose.

You didn't even make the ladies tees, you wimp.

It's all in good fun. As long as there are not any actual women in your group. Then, some of those jokes tend to be a little muted, with flies staying zipped.

Except apparently when it comes to the best golfers in the world. For there was Annika Sorenstam gleefully pulling out a pink skirt for Fred Funk to wear when his drive fell short of hers in the Skins Game Saturday.

Is this really how pro golf wants to conduct itself in 2005?

Should the No. 1 women's player in the world be so pumped up that she outdrove a PGA Tour afterthought? After all, he's Fred Funk and she's Annika Sorenstam. Is it still such news in 2005 that Annika Sorenstam can outdrive Fred Funk?

So much for women's golf having come a long way.

It's one thing for Tiger Woods to get all frat boy giddy about the idea of a woman outdriving Funk. Tiger told Funk he'd never live it down if Sorenstam hit the ball past his. Of course, this is the same Tiger who told a few off-color jokes in GQ magazine the last time he hinted he had a personality.

Tiger's sense of humor obviously runs toward the pants-around-your-ankles thing. Nothing wrong with that, per se.

Nor is there any problem with Funk suggesting a bet with Sorenstam in which he'd wear a skirt an entire hole if she outdrove him. Once again, he's Fred Funk and showing some "fun-loving antics" is the only way he ever gets invited to the Skins Game.

The problem comes in Sorenstam so eagerly jumping in. ""I thought it was a great idea," Sorenstam told the Associated Press. "I said, 'I'm in, I'm cool.'"

Ah -- not so cool. What message is Sorenstam sending about women's golf when she's so excited about outdriving any man? Are the young kids watching supposed to take that there's still skirt-wearing shame attached to being bested by a woman in the age of Michelle Wie?

No one talks golf more lightly than I do. But this one struck me as more stereotypically Neanderthal than fun.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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