Henry Hughes, the PGA Tour's longtime chief of operations, pegs the increase in ritualized hat-doffing on the 18th green to 1998 or 1999. That was when the "new breed" of business-savvy young pros, including Tiger Woods, began to recognize such moments as the branding opportunities they are, and consequently transmitted the hat-doffing bug into the public bloodstream.
The 18th-green rituals on the LPGA Tour, incidentally, are much different. In large part that's because the relationship between hat and hair for women is more complex, which makes simple doffing more difficult. According to Ty Votaw, now an executive vice president at the PGA Tour but formerly the LPGA commissioner and still the husband of LPGA star Sophie Gustafson, the protocols work like this: Players who know and like each other hug, players who know each other but aren't especially fond "air hug," and players who didn't know each other before the round shake hands. Male caddies and players cheek-kiss.
The approach putt is an all-important shot—finishing near the hole it spares the player all of the holing out anxieties and jerky snatches. ROBERT HARRIS