Most guys who wear a long-sleeve, button-down shirt to work don’t cause a stir. But then most guys aren’t Phil Mickelson. The golf champ got fans talking (and snarkily tweeting) when he showed up in a button-down at a Master’s Tournament practice round earlier this year, then again at the Players Championship. Turns out Mickelson signed on as a brand ambassador for the shirt-maker — the Dallas-based Mizzen+Main.
“These dress shirts ... are so comfortable and versatile I can actually play golf in them,” he says on M+M’s website.
Maybe so, but his unusual choice of golfing garb might have gotten more thumbs-up if it had fit him better, suggests Golf Digest fashion director Marty Hackel. Well, yes ... and it didn’t help that Mickelson had the logo of “Workday,” a financial management software firm that sponsors him, stitched onto the front of the shirt, making him look like a copy machine repairman.
Rest assured, nobody’s really suggesting guys start playing golf in button-downs (not even Mickelson). It was a publicity stunt to show off the versatility of these shirts. But what’s interesting is how many people noticed. Moral of the story: These days, it might be worth it for caddies to know as much about style trends as sand traps.
The public is more aware than ever of how players look on TV and social media, and they’re not afraid to say who aced and who bogeyed. Brands, too, are casting a keen eye on pros’ wardrobe, planning outfits for their brand ambassadors like Mom on your first day of school.
Female pros have the added headache of the LPGA’s new and controversial style guidelines, issued last summer. The list of now-forbidden items on courses includes plunging necklines, leggings (unless worn under skorts or shorts), certain racerbacks and hemlines that reveal one’s “bottom area.”
For fans, the most pressing style questions — who looks good on the course, and how can I (affordably) replicate that look? — will be writ large as the sport’s top male players descend on Long Island for the U.S. Open, which comes to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton June 11-17.
So we turned to golfwear guru Hackel, asking him what lessons regular putters can glean from the best-dressed pros. Lesson No. 1: You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on specialized, high-tech golf gear. "Good sportswear makes good golfwear,” he says.
We like the sound of that.
THE PLAYER Justin Thomas
THE LESSON Embrace color.
Top-ranked pro Thomas is often spotted in vivid shades, from chartreuse and fuchsia polos to pink or purple trousers. But follow his lead, notes Hackel, and wear one bold item at a time, and keep the rest neutral.
THE PLAYER Adam Scott
THE LESSON Forget price.
The 2013 Masters winner and Aussie fave, long considered one of golf’s most stylish competitors, is dressed by bargain brand Uniqlo, proving that “looking good has nothing to do with how much you spend,” Hackel says.
THE PLAYER John Daly
THE LESSON Follow your mojo.
When it comes to “worst dressed,” says Hackel, “people always expect me to say Daly, who wears a brand called Loudmouth Golf. It’s fun, colorful, completely overdone ... and I guarantee your first reaction when you see it is a smile.”