The speaker was a coworker at a golf magazine where I once worked. We were watching an early-round U.S. Open telecast, and Greg Norman had come on camera for the first time in a shirt that fell short of my colleagues approval.
The innocuous episode stuck with me because of what it says about golfs unique uni, or uniform. When we size up a golfer, world-ranked or anonymous, the apparel is part of the appraisal.
And its because we can choose our uniform that golf is more interesting, fashion-wise, than baseball, football or other sports where conformity is key. Within broad limitations, we as golfers can be a lot more creative in our garb.
Its possible to look downright beautiful playing this game. Athletic-cut cotton shirts under soft, silk-cotton blend sweater vests with crisp-creased pants for men. Lovely sleeveless tops in myriad colors with cuffed cotton-linen shorts for women. Saddles or split-toe shoes for either. The fairway can be a veritable runway.
Of course, this fashion has to perform from the links to the laundry. Here are some practical notes for looking golf-fabulous:
CAN YOU SWING IT?
Fundamentally, is a golf shirt (or sweater or jacket or sweatshirt) comfortable throughout the golf swing? Try one on and pantomime a swing. Keep in mind that golf shirts need a different, often more generous, cut than, say, dress shirts. Same goes for pants.
CAN YOU WRING IT?
In a word, no. To keep that shirt or other golf garment as spiffy as it looked in the store, turn it inside out for washing. Consider line drying instead of high-temperature clothes dryers.
THE FIT FOOT
Ill-fitting shoes are bad enough for regular walking. Add the demands of a golf swing, and they become excruciating. Take the time to get fitted properly, whether by one of those newfangled laser machines or at the hands of a experienced shoe seller with a Brannock device (thats one of those sliding-scale tools you put your foot on when Mom got you your first pair of Buster Browns).
Be it in shoes or rainsuits, nothing feels better than being dry as a bone in a downpour. Gore Tex is the leading waterproof fabric technology now, but companies are innovating daily to develop materials that are even lighter, more breathable, and less expensive than what we have now. In any event, the cost seems a lot less in the rain than it did at purchase time.
TOPPING IT OFF
Hats ' special favorites of mine ' are opportunities for self-expression. But at the same time, they serve a number of important functions, not the least of which is sun protection. Whatever type you choose ' baseball style, bucket, wide-brim or flat cap ' swing with it on to make sure it stays on and doesnt interfere with your finish.
These are only a sampling of the many things there are to know about golf clothes, outerwear and shoes. Use the buyers at your club or pro shop as a resource; they get deep into the fibers and leather, and they have a lot of practical tips. Besides, they want to know what you want.
Whats In The Bag? will step aside for U.S. Open week. But well be back on Wednesday, June 18 at 10 p.m. EDT with the goods on golf carts, GPS systems, and other modern course management tools. See you then.