Unlike other sports, golf doesn’t have a uniform. Players can express their own unique style and enjoy the excitement of choosing an outfit before getting out there on the course. But things weren’t always that way. In the early days of golf, style wasn’t as important as it is today.
Let’s dive into the history of golf fashion and how certain trends have influenced the way golfers dress today.
The Evolution of Golf Clothes
Whether you’re a golf pro or a beginner, you’re likely familiar with how golfers typically dress. Maybe you’ve seen groups of students play “pub golf” or perhaps you’ve watched a few matches on TV.
Whatever the case, you probably have an idea of what golf fashion looks like. From the polo shirts to above-the-knee shorts to the “driver hat” (flat cap), golf clothing has a distinct look that’s unmistakable from other fashion.
Golfing has quite a rich history when it comes to apparel. From the winter-friendly attire to brave the elements in Scotland to today’s modern golf clothes, let’s dive into the history of golf fashion over the years. Where did it all start?
- The first golf clothing: The first game of golf took place during the 15th century in Scotland. The climate in Scotland is often cool, rainy, and windy. So, players wore thick, heavy fabrics like tweed and plaid. To protect themselves from the wind blowing off the water at courses like St. Andrews, golfers sported knickerbockers (knickers), which are short pants that end right below the knee. Players paired these knickerbockers with flat caps. Elements of this style are still present today.
- The early 1900s: A 1918 advertisement in Vanity Fair proved to be a pivotal moment in golf fashion. This is when the single-breasted jacket, waistcoat, long socks, and golf cap became popular. Back then, this more formal style of dress represented what it meant to be a well-dressed golfer.
- The 1920s: The booming American economy resulted in the glamour of the Roaring Twenties. This elevated golf to an even more formal look. Single-breasted jackets, neckties, and long stockings were popular.
- The 1930s and 40s: In the 30s and 40s, golf fashion took a more casual turn. Golfers began to move away from knickerbockers and embraced long flannel trousers. The shirt and tie also became less common. The 1933 U.S. Open took place during a heatwave, which influenced players to wear more casual, lightweight clothing. This style began to stick, and has strongly influenced what golfers wear today.
- Modern-day golf attire: Today, golfers tend to wear knit, collared golf shirts or vests with chinos or another casual trouser that’s lightweight and roomy. Polo shirts, two-tone golf shoes, visors, and sun hats are also popular.
Golf clothing today blends various styles that have accumulated over the years. And thanks to modern technology, golf clothes are a lot more comfortable to wear and move around in. Clothes now enable mobility, ventilation, and practicality to help players perform their best and stay cool on the course.
How Fashion Got into the Swing of Golf
After the first swings in Scotland, golfers didn’t really think about how they looked on the course. They mainly dressed for the sake of comfort and practicality, and not to look great and perform better. This led to golf looks that weren’t necessarily fashion-forward. Muted, plaid materials, ill-fitting slacks, and dull colors weren’t particularly easy on the eye.
Today’s golfer, on the other hand, pays more attention to what they wear on the course. In fact, for many of them, looking good is just as important as how they play the game. Fashion-forward golfers enjoy getting dressed before a game. They love bringing individuality to a sport that encourages you to be yourself. Golfing doesn’t have a uniform, so why should golfers dress the same?
As golf has become a professional sport, PGA players are like celebrities. They’re all over television, the news, and the internet. They get paid to golf, and hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people see them playing the sport.
So, it’s no wonder many professional golfers are using the sport’s lack of a dress code to find their own look. Yet, they still focus on practicality at the same time. The right pocket in the pants has to be big enough to hold balls, tees, markers, and divot fixers. Players should easily be able to reach in when they get to the tee box and find what they need, without having to adjust their underwear afterwards.
The clothing should also have a natural flow to it. Clothes should be loose enough to easily maneuver in, but not too baggy to the point where they look goofy. Shirts should be stylish, but they need to have moisture-wicking material so that they don’t stick to the body when sweating.
So, as you can see, golfers have been a lot more strategic about how they dress before a tournament or quick game of golf. In other words, the shifts in golf fashion didn’t solely come from a shallow place. They also came from a “we want to be better” place. Golfers want to look stylish and trendy, while at the same time performing at the highest level.
This way of thinking has inspired recreational players as well. They want to enjoy a game of golf to help them relax and wind down from a long week. But at the same time, they want to look nice, like they put some thought into their outfit. When playing with friends and colleagues, golfers don’t want to be known as the “one who can’t dress”.
Today’s Best Dressed Golfers
With the growing popularity of golf apparel and footwear brands, professional and recreational golfers alike are stepping up their wardrobe game when they go out on the course.
So, if you’re looking for some inspiration, take it from the pros. Let’s look at how today’s top golfers are killing it on the course both in performance and in fashion.
1. Patrick Cantley
Cantlay is one of the best dressed guys to play the game. Before, his simple and sophisticated looks were almost too simple. But, he’s changed things up from the usual navy, blue, and black and has gone to brighter hues. His tailoring is also on point.
Rather than bunching around his ankles, his pant legs are cut to hit the tops of his shoes. In addition to Cantley’s more lively color palette and impeccably fitting golf attire, he’s also not afraid to go capless, which gives an extra clean look.
2. Abraham Ancer
Abraham Ancer is a notable, up-and-coming young player and has a few brand deals with golf apparel brands. He has an effortless style on the course, sporting the hottest brands and vibrant splashes of color.
3. Brian Gay
Brian Gay isn’t afraid to take his golf fashion looks to the next level with modern and sophisticated prints. With intricate florals, edgy camos, and preppy stripes, Gay loves to make bold fashion statements while performing at his best.
These are just a few examples of how professional golfers are modernizing golf wear and making it their own. What are you doing to polish your look on the fairway?
Ways to Spruce Up Your Look on the Course
In the past, golf attire at a club or prestigious golf course mainly consisted of a tucked in polo shirt, khaki pants or shorts, and a belt.
However, within the last decade or so, clubs have begun to relax their dress code, giving golfers more freedom to express their individuality in their clothing. So, in most cases, you can pretty much wear what you want. But just make sure it’s practical and appropriate for golf!
Not sure how to dress to impress? Here are some tips to looking your best on every swing.
- Break away from the past. Don’t be confined to archaic past norms of what’s been acceptable on the golf course. You don’t have to wear a polo, two-toned shoes, or a golf hat. You can look just as good (or better) in a breathable t-shirt or without a cap. It just depends on your preference and what you enjoy wearing.
- Be yourself. Golf attire doesn’t have to be super formal. On the course, you should dress how you normally dress in real life. You should feel like yourself and feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. Dressing like someone else or how people want you to dress can ruin your mindset and affect how you play.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with new styles. Trying different colors, trendy patterns, and other fun styles can really help keep your looks fresh and stylish.
Score a Wardrobe Hole-in-One With Kepel
Whether you’re into a more casual game of golf or you enjoy competing in a high-stakes competition, dressing well can play a huge role in your confidence. And what golfer doesn’t want that?
At Kepel, our styles infuse art into the beautiful game of golf. Our aim is to create the highest grade gear with the most exquisite design. Are you ready to look and feel like a million bucks with every swing? Shop our extensive golf apparel collection today.