Why does Aaron Rai wear two gloves and use iron covers? The reason is incredibly endearing

The final round of the 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday could be a big day for Aaron Rai, a golf professional who wears two gloves when he plays and uses covers on his irons. But there is a method to his madness, and it might just make you want to pull for the Englishman, who shares the 54-hole lead at Detroit Golf Club with Akshay Bhatia in pursuit of his first PGA Tour victory.

Rai, 29, has won twice on the DP World Tour, but not since the 2020 Scottish Open and is making his 85th career start on the PGA Tour this week. Why does Rai wear gloves on both hands when he plays a la Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey? As a youngster, he was sent a pair of gloves by the maker of them and it became a habit to wear not one but two when he played. But the reinforcement that this was the way for him happened down the line when his father forgot to put the two gloves in his bag.

“So I had to play with one. It was terrible,” Rai said. “I couldn’t play, I couldn’t feel the grip, so I’ve always stuck with the two gloves ever since.”

Using iron covers is an even bigger oddity for a pro golfer. But Rai, who came from a working-class family, offered an endearing explanation for his peculiar practice. It, too, dates to childhood and how his father always made sure that he had the best equipment, even if he didn’t always have the means. That included a set of Titleist 690 MBs when he was seven years old that he treated as his prized possession.

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“I cherished them,” Rai recalled. “It started from the age of 4 years old, when my dad used to pay for my equipment. He paid for my membership, paid for my entry fees. It wasn’t money that we really had, to be honest, but he’d always buy me the best clubs. When we used to go out and practice, he used to clean every single groove afterward with a pin and baby oil, and, to protect the golf clubs, he thought it would be good to put iron covers on them, and I’ve pretty much had iron covers on all my sets ever since, just to kind of appreciate the value of what I have.”

Rai gets his equipment for free these days, but he still cares for his gear in the same manner, his way of remembering how his father toiled to help him get to this point.

“It’s more out of principle and it’s more out of just the value of not losing perspective of what I have and where I am,” he said. “The covers are going to stay.”

It could be a big day for Rai but regardless of the result, he won’t forget his humble beginnings and how far he’s progressed in his career.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek