It’s true that golf doesn’t have the most stylish of reputations. Argyle jumpers paired with shapeless slacks may cut a fine silhouette at the local British Legion, but these do little to represent modern menswear. Style ambassadors such as John Daly and Trainspotting’s Francis Begbie have done little to aid the cause. But this hasn’t always been the case.
Timeless classics such as the Harrington jacket were conceived as golf attire, while brands such as Lyle & Scott and Pringle of Scotland made their names at the tee. Back further still, knickerbockers and plus-fours were the mark of Victorian sporting sophistication – employing garish socks to show a flash of personality in an otherwise mundane outfit started long before City Boys adopted it.
Now, a new breed of brands are bringing golf attire up to date. Galvin Green, J.Lindeberg and Loro Piana are making a runway out of the fairway, using a range of fabrics that are weather-ready and cut in styles that allow a full range of movement, while still looking good.
Heritage fashion houses such as Dunhill Links produce seriously high-end lines using luxury fabrics, while the likes of Adidas and Nike make golf shoes that could easily keep a sneakerhead happy for 18 holes. Allow us to introduce you to a golfing wardrobe that keeps you in play both on and off the course.
Six Off The Tee: When Golf Attire Goes Wrong
Confusing ‘Loud’ With ‘Personality’
“Expressing yourself through style is to be applauded but embracing loud colours to get a reaction is not the way to go,” says style director Eric Down. “Keep it simple. Classic combos of white with black, grey or navy will always look sleek. If you want to introduce colour then keep it to two at most. You need to be able to see the flag; it does not need to see you on the tee box.”
“This is the most common faux pas at the moment and has become the biggest talking point among golf style experts,” says Andy Coulter of golfing style website, Golfposer.com. “A player can be wearing the most stylish shirt, trouser and shoe combination but a horrendous white belt can ruin all that.” However, there are times when it can be acceptable. White belt with white trousers? Tick. White belt with white shirt. Tick. White belt with anything other than white trousers or a white shirt. Just don’t do it.
Thinking ‘Golf Style’ Is A Thing
“Most people have an idea of what they think that golf style should be. They get it wrong at this point,” says Jens Werner, creative director at J.Lindeberg. “Style is style. Your golf clothing should be good enough to wear in a social situation.” Do you prefer a slim-cut trouser in day-to-day life? Plenty of golf brands such as Ping offer this. Wide shoulders? FootJoy makes affordable ‘athletic’ fit golf polos that offer a more modern cut than the shapeless square shirts of old.
“Many golfers get it wrong with the number of items they put on in the morning,” says Mats Lundqvist, creative director at Galvin Green. “Too many mix a range of fabrics that are not compatible in terms of breathability and they’ll end up hot and bothered no matter what the weather.” While manmade fabrics are now par for the course for their increased breathability and sweat-wicking properties, many don’t interact well with one another. If you’ve got a manmade fabric base layer or polo shirt, think about a natural yarn such as merino to overlay.
Don’t Treat Pieces As Separates
“Pay attention to how your outfit flows,” says Coulter. “Never wear pattern on pattern. Just because you have a beautiful argyle jumper and a pair of classic plaid trousers that you paid big money for, it does not mean that they’ll work together.” If your polo features an accent colour or flash of branding, match this in another area of your outfit, too. Black trousers, like black jeans off the course, are always a solid bet.
“Mix and match your brands,” says Coulter. “Just because you’ve got a Nike polo doesn’t mean you need the matching trousers. More and more of the pros mix it up: Sergio Garcia wears Adidas apparel but Callaway caps; Henrik Stenson pairs Boss athleisurewear with Footjoy shoes. This will only become more common as time moves on.”
Golf has more headgear options than any other sport. The flat cap was popularised by golfers in the late 19th century for both warmth and its aesthetic appeal and has since spawned myriad millinery options for the style-conscious golfer. Baseball caps are industry standard and offer the most variety in terms of colour and branding.
We’d suggest going with white – it works with almost any outfit – and Titlelist offers huge range of coloured caps with a handy ball marker. Rocking a visor can pep up an otherwise understated outfit; just ask Luke Donald. But never, ever go for a SnapBack. It doesn’t work for Tony Finau and it certainly won’t for you.
“The most popular trend in recent years has been the introduction of running fabrics on the golf course,” says Coulter. “It’s made apparel far more breathable and comfortable – Puma’s Evoknit range does this extremely well.”
It’s here where you have the greatest range of colours and styles to play with. If you like an athletic-fit polo on a Friday night, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the same at the 19th hole. “We have re-interpreted our polos to work as well for golf as they do everyday activities,” says Werner of J.Lindeberg. “Technical, functional sportswear mixed with iconic fashion in modern cuts is the aim.”
While the traditional golf jumper has gone out of fashion with the current breed of professional players (they choose instead to garner warmth from baselayers), there’s still plenty to choose from for the club golfer. We’d advise against going for Ralph Lauren cardigan and tie combo that Justin Thomas wore at The Open in 2017 and instead keep it classic.
Kjus Golf uses high-quality merino wool for its knits, which is quick-drying, breathable and helps to regulate body temperature. For around £150 it’s a classic range that will never go out of fashion, unlike that jacquard number you invested in a decade ago.
This is where the price point can really start to rise. Jackets and shells imbued with Gore-Tex, cashmere and new-fangled waterproof materials can regularly tickle the £400 mark, but the very best are so breathable that they can be worn year-round.
“You need to find something where you can complete a full swing with zero restriction,” says Lundqvist of Galvin Green. Golfers’ swings are unique, so what might feel comfortable to one player may not work for another. Always try outerwear on in a golf shop that has clubs available so you can complete a full swing with the jacket on.
“Slim-fit trousers are the most popular trend right now,” says Coulter. Certain brands are even introducing ‘ultra’ slim-fit legs to match the streetwear trend for thigh-hugging strides. “Rickie Fowler even made it okay to wear jogging bottoms on the course. While his own choice of apparel has become less edgy of late, we still love the athletic look that a pair of golf joggers provides.”
This does not give licence to go full Love Island. Your playing partner does not want to see what you had for breakfast.
“The greatest evolution in golf footwear has been from players wearing spikes to spikeless,” says Tony Eccleston, general manager at Duca del Cosma, arguably the world’s most luxurious golf shoe brand. “Golfers have also demanded that their footwear be fit for play once out of the box, with no ‘wearing in’ period. They’ve also become lighter and more fashion-focused.”
The world’s best sneakers are also finding their way to the golf course. Adidas has shoes which look identical to Stan Smiths, Nike has Flynknit golf shoes and brands such as Duca has catwalk-grade brogues that look good enough to wear with a suit.
From the glove your wear to your choice of balls and tees, when you’re lining up on the first for a corporate golf day, there will be at least a minute when all eyes are on you. The accoutrements are big business in golf so are well worth good and proper consideration.
Vice Golf has created a range of balls to suit players’ swing speed – anyone in the know will recognise this from the moment you tee it up. Pure leather gloves offer the most grip, but are poor in wet conditions. Always pick wooden tees in a colour that matches your glove. They guarantee a cleaner ball-strike, too.
Fore Ways To Wear It
Every high-street sportswear label now has a golfing line that work perfectly for an impromptu round. Nike, Under Armour, Adidas and Puma are all great examples of type. “Make it comfortable and tailored and well put together, but also fun and daring,” says Jensen of J.Lindeberg . “Don’t look at fashions, just choose what you like. Mixing old classics with new, more progressive styles is bang on trend this season, but always make sure it’s a modern cut.”
Corporate Away Day Chic
Like it or loathe it, you’re going to be judged from the moment you meet in the clubhouse for cold bacon rolls and stewed coffee. Think about every element of your look just as you would your business-casual office uniform.
Bring a bootbag for your golf shoes and make sure your jacket for the post-round lunch is in a suit carrier. Keep it classic out on course – you don’t want to be that guy who cards 100+ wearing the rascal shirt your girlfriend got you for Christmas. Galvin Green, J.Lindeberg, Kjus, Adidas Porsche Design Sport, Hugo Boss and Ecco shoes are the brands to employ here. They use the most-modern cuts, subdued hues and the very best materials.
Some of the tour players pull off heritage style with aplomb, and it doesn’t involve knickerbockers and argyle socks. Instead, they sport neutral colours and allow the fit and interesting fabrics do the talking. Spanish maestro Seve Ballesteros managed this every time he walked on the course. In terms of brands, check out Dunhill Links, Pringle of Scotland and Ralph Lauren. They might cost more than you want to spend immediately but will stand the test of time. Just think of the cost per wear.
The Weekender Look
A golf day with friends is where you can really put your stamp on a look. You’re with people who won’t judge (any more than they already do) so open up those shoulders and put on a bit of a show. “One of our favourite colour combinations right now is black and orange,” says Coulter. “Introducing a pop of colour into an otherwise neutral outfit is a great idea and will make you stand out, without looking ridiculous.” Just channel Adam Scott and his great-value range for Uniqlo for inspiration.
5 Golf Style Rules To Drive By
1) Block with classic colours. “White with black, grey, navy or tan will always look good,” says Down. “Don’t mix primary colours with pastels or neons – it’s headache inducing. The Queen wears bright colours so she can always be seen by the crowd. If you’re not Rory McIlroy, tone it down a notch.”
2) Keep it simple if splashing out. “Navy and blues tones are good right now,” says Lundqvist. “If you add a splash of bright colour such as yellow, orange, green or red to base trousers of black and navy, that will always work as a great combination. We’re working with pale yellow and blue a lot this season.”
3) Make a considered statement. “The easiest and most tasteful way to make an impact is through a funky, printed golf shirt,” says Coulter. “The micro print and graphic trend has really come into fruition this year and that has led to many stylish lines. Key brands to look for include Ted Baker which launched its golf apparel line last year, while Puma is another who has embraced the trend in typical loud and proud fashion.”
4) Invest in quality waterproofs. You will play your best golf if you’re feeling comfortable. This can’t happen when you’re wet through. A set of quality wet-weather gear will last decades and never go out of fashion. Galvin Green sets the bar for these. Its new Interface-1 top is designed to be worn on 95 rounds out of 100. It’s windproof, water repellent and extremely breathable.
5) Consider the cut and follow the leaderboard. “The shape of golf apparel has changed drastically in the past few years,” says Jensen. “We now produce much slimmer silhouettes that look far closer to fashion trends.” If you wouldn’t wear something out with friends on a weekend, don’t take it to the golf course. And if you’re struggling for inspiration, just follow the guys doing it best.
“Billy Horschel, who wears RLX golf clothing, always looks the part,” says Coulter. “Boss ambassadors Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson always do it well, Nike athletes Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Alex Noren look great while Puma’s Bryson DeChambeau is seriously underrated.” Though for cast-iron good looks with a splash of panache, channel Rory: “Nobody moves the style needle in the way that McIlroy can.”