The Evolution of the Golfing Style Icon
With its origin traced back several centuries to 1457, the unsuspecting players were unaware that their simple game of hitting a pebble over sand dunes along the wind-swept coast of Scotland would catalyse the world-renowned game that we now know as golf.
Despite the luscious golf courses of the UK playing host to a medley of memorable sporting victories throughout the sport’s history, they have also been witness to some very vibrant golf attire and matching colourful personalities.
But what is the history behind golf clothing and how has it evolved? From Walter Hagan to Doug Sanders and Johnny Miller, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite golfers that show true prowess and distinctive style on the fairway.
The golfers who made history
In a game that blends practicality and functionality with plenty of sophistication, it’s no surprise that professional golf players have experimented with daring outfits, unique colourways and silhouettes over the years, in order to cement themselves into the minds of golf enthusiasts globally.
Walter ‘The Haig’ Hagen
Sir Walter is known as golf’s greatest showman; his extravagant character and model attitude carried him to victory, with a total of 11 professional major championships under his belt.
He paved the way for aspiring golfers in the ‘20s with his sheer panache and often underrated talent, complete with lavish style on the golf course. His outfit choices range from slacks tucked into long socks to well-tailored tuxedos, ensuring that he was never seen on the green without a shirt and tie.
His mantra of, “don’t hurry, don’t worry, you’re only here for a short visit, so be sure to smell the flowers along the way” is testament to his champion’s heart.
Jimmy ‘The Wardrobe’ Demaret
Golf’s first show-biz star, Jimmy Demaret, wasn’t just respected for his three Masters victories during the 1940s, but for his eccentric personality and wardrobe to match – hence the nickname.
His eye for bold colour and prints, verging on garish, revolutionised golf attire. Colours such as pink, emerald, gold and aqua clashed with the vibrant green of the course; this only put the audience in awe of the outfit spectacle.
This wasn’t the end of Jimmy’s stamp on the aesthetic the golfing community has grown to love. With the desire to wear lightweight and less-restrictive fabrics, he became the first to customise his golf wear and create clothing that enhanced his performance, rather than hindering it.
His creativity didn’t stop there – he often supplied shoe factories with a swatch from his trousers to have matching saddle oxford shoes made.
Arnold ‘The King’ Palmer – 50’s
Arnold Palmer was widely regarded as “The King” of golf. His exceptional technical skills enabled him to win more than 90 tournaments globally, but he also won the hearts of golf enthusiasts with his boyish charm and sense of casual cool that he embodied on the golf course.
His comfort and rugged masculinity – with and without a club in his hands – made him a golfing style icon and prompted the formation of “Arnie’s Army”, the name for his devoted fans that followed him from tournament-to-tournament around the world.
A fifties vision on the course, he often sported a range of turtlenecks, cardigans and fitted shirts styled with flat-fronted trousers and smart brogues.
A reminder of his charisma and great talent is still celebrated in the form of his favourite drink, known as the “Arnold Palmer” (a combination of iced tea and lemonade).
‘Peacock of the Fairways’
Doug Sanders made his mark on the golfing world in the ’60s. Despite the professional career of the 20-time PGA tour winner being a relatively short one, he was gifted the nickname “Peacock of the Fairways” for his flamboyant style.
Coordinated and colourful from head-to-toe, it’s no surprise that two of the most frequent questions asked on tour were said to be, “what did Arnold Palmer shoot?” and “what’s Doug Sanders wearing?”
Partying, drinking and associating with celebrities and movie stars such as Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and even George Bush only added to his extravagant and memorable attributes off the green.
Ranked second in the world on Mark McCormack’s world golf rankings in 1974 and 1975, Johnny Miller was a force to be reckoned with on the golf course, and for good reason.
He’s also recognised as a ‘70s style icon; the combination of bold colours and checked patterns were a firm favourite for the golfing legend. It’s impossible to forget the houndstooth-print pants that he famously rocked for the 1973 U.S. Open – proof that styling muted prints the right way will lead you to victory!
Amidst the flashy prints and open polo necks, Miller always knew how to synchronise his busy outfits with a belt. Quoted by Golf Digest, he said, “I’m the guy who made the white belt famous. It went away for a while, but it’s back”.
Modern-day golf attire style tips
We’ve taken a look at some of the top golfers when it comes to fashion statements throughout the last decade, but it’s often hard to know what to wear golfing nowadays.
These style tips are under no gender-limitation either, our handy guide for what ladies should wear to play golf is a must-read! We’ve come up with a few general tips and tricks, perfect for if you’re a golf newbie:
- A long or short-sleeved polo shirt must have a collar
- Flat-fronted pants and shorts extending to the knee are a common choice – they must have belt loops
- Choose between soft-spiked or spikeless golf shoes on the green
- Baseball hats, straw hats and visors are popular choices
- T-shirts, tank tops or sports jerseys aren’t generally permitted
- Avoid draw-string shorts – belt loops are preferred
- Shoes with metal spikes are not allowed; trainers, flip-flops and sandals should also be avoided
- Cowboy hats, fedoras and baseballs hats worn backwards are not appropriate
Don’t be hindered by the elements
Due to the fact the British climate is highly unpredictable and often blesses its inhabitants with unforeseen chilly spells, it may be confusing to know what to wear for golf in cold weather – but don’t let it prevent you from getting a hole in one!
As golf clothing has evolved to be more advanced in its materials, a fleece jacket made from a lightweight, windproof, breathable and water-repellent fabric will offer maximum playability and supreme comfort, even when battling the elements.
A handy tip to know
Although it is not essential to wear a golf glove during a game, they improve grip and friction in tricky conditions such as rain and humidity.
But which hand do you wear a golf glove on?
It is customary to wear a single glove on the “opposite hand” (right-handed golfers would wear the glove on their left hand and vice versa). The reason? The “top” hand on the club is the lead hand, meaning strong grip is essential for the swing – so the glove is worn on the opposite hand.
Here at The Edinburgh Woollen Mill, you’ll discover a diverse range of golf clothing for men and women from high-quality brands such as Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman. Shop now for ultimate sophistication on the golf course.