Gary Flegg wears a funny hat with a serious message.
The Australian bowler, of the North Beach Bowling Club in Perth, has caught the attention of many during the Taranaki Open fours men's bowls tournament with his "frillneck cap".
The piece of apparel has acquired him the nicknames Lawrence of Arabia, or Laurie the Arab, and from time to time he is jokingly asked "where's your camel?".
The micro-mesh item is known as the "urban turban" and worn around the world by athletes and adventurers who are exposed to the sun.
And while it may be foreign to people in Taranaki, the four-time Taranaki Open attendee said the frillneck cap was a common and necessary item on the greens of Western Australia - especially for him.
"I've had a number of skin cancers taken out over the years, so that's the main reason I wear it," the redhead said.
"You can leave it down or wrap yourself up good, there's all sorts of ways to wear it."
Along with Australia, New Zealand has the strongest UV rays in the world, and Mr Flegg said it would not be a bad idea for Kiwis to follow suit.
"I'd certainly recommend them to anyone and everyone, particularly those who have a bit of sun damage."
The 71-year-old is used to playing in 30-plus degrees Celsius, so New Plymouth's "tropical" 23C yesterday was not getting to him.
"It's not so bad here but you still burn very easily. It's not so much the heat that gets to me, it's the burning.
"That's the reason for the hat."
Mr Flegg and his skip, Alan Schrauf, have played together for years and were often dubbed "The Camel Brigade" for their covered-up look.
When talking to the Taranaki Daily News yesterday, the Perth team had a 1:1 win-loss record and Mr Flegg said they were not travelling too well in game three against their New Plymouth Club opponents.
"We come here for the enjoyment. I always enjoy myself here, it's a wonderful tournament and we all have a great time.
"Any wins we get are a bonus," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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