On Sunday I watched as a young man named Will Zalatoris became golf’s newest star. The 24-year-old was the unexpected runner-up at the prestigious Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
Zalatoris’ rise to stardom was as unlikely as me watching it happen. He was playing under conditional PGA status, meaning he wasn’t even ranked among the top 125 players. And I pretty much never watch golf, preferring to spend my weekend afternoons doing anything more scintillating than watching people hit little balls for hours.
But as my husband’s cheering grew louder and more passionate as he watched the Masters on TV, I sat down to see what the ruckus was all about.
That’s when it happened. I became a Will Zalatoris fan.
Was it because he looked a bit like Generation X icon Jeff Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”? Or that he bore a resemblance to actor Owen Wilson?
No, it wasn’t that.
Was it because Adam Sandler tweeted that he looked like a grown-up version of his caddy from the 90’s flick “Happy Gilmore”?
That’s funny, but it’s not why I was backing Zalatoris.
Was it his aforementioned status as an outsider in the elite rankings of top professional players, someone who was not projected to win?
Maybe a little bit. I love a good underdog story.
But there was something else, based on my experience as a mom, that made me root for him. Standing 6’2” tall, Zalatoris weighs 165 pounds. The waist on his pants measures 28 inches.
And that’s all it took.
I wanted nothing more than this tall, thin young man to win in the name of all the tall, thin young men and teenage boys out there. Boys like my skinny teenage son, 17, who stands 6’3” and weighs 170 pounds.
I wanted Zalatoris to win because he must have faced constant pressure, like my son, to fatten up, especially in the world of athletics. I’ve tried many things to help my son gain weight—switching him to a diet of whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese. Putting peanut butter and olive oil on everything. Buying him supplements and weight gain shakes.
And still my son’s body cheerfully moves the needle on the bathroom scale at a snail’s pace. My son is tall and thin, yet strong, and that’s just how he’s built. He’s a skinny athlete. Just like Will Zalatoris.
I wanted Zalatoris to win for all the moms of tall, skinny young men and teenage boys out there. Moms like me, who have struggled to find clothes for their sons with that frame.
When my son was a freshman and needed dress pants for his first formal dance, it was impossible to find pants that fit. We went to JC Penney’s. Then Macy’s. Then another and another store. Didn’t anyone make a 28”x34” pair of pants? The answer was pretty much no. Pants for tall, skinny teenagers were like the Holy Grail. Elusive and coveted.
Thankfully, other moms directed me to a few stores (try Kohl’s and American Eagle) that offered such sizes.
But the message from stores and brands was received—my son’s size was different.
So there I sat on Sunday, watching Will Zalatoris pursue greatness in golf pants with a 28-inch waistband, wondering who made those pants and how I could buy a pair. As I watched him swing and putt, I saw his confidence in his body and his abilities, even when others probably told him he was too skinny.
At the end of the day, Zalatoris did not win the Masters. (Congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama, by the way, the first male from Japan to win the Masters!) However, even though Zalatoris didn’t don the coveted green jacket, he’s still a winner in my eyes. A tall, thin winner wearing pants with a 28-inch waistband.