Golfers enjoy the position of being the most elegantly dressed of sportsmen, just edging ahead in recent years over tennis pros, largely because of the gaudy Spanish outfits of Rafael Nadal. They retain an old-fashioned charm, a pressed and prim professionalism – always unruffled. Gentry has written before about the cool cut of the green jacket but it goes beyond the winner’s circle of one. The whole field display a sartorial self-expression unfamiliar to most other sports in which uniforms tend to dominate. The promotion of such flair, within the defined boundaries of a code of dress, has thrown up some absolute classic looks. Gentry looks at some of the most dashing gents over the course of the years.
5. GARY PLAYER
The ‘Black Knight’ cut a dashing figure throughout his career. With Gary Player it was the whole package. One of the best, most competitive professionals the game has seen (he holds the record for the most strokes in major championships) and also one of the fittest (hence the moniker ‘Mr. Fitness). Player’s tight black shirts and trousers cut an impressive shape against his anachronistically toned body, leaving many of his casually podgy and lackadaisical opponents in the shade. With player, this was sportswear in the proper sense: it made him look, feel and play spectacular golf.
4. JASPER PARNEVIK
In 1997, Jesper Parnevik began wearing the clothes of designer J. Lindeberg. Golf had not seen such tight-fitting pants, thick belts, loud colors and floppy-collared shirts since the 1970s. His chic, modish style cuts an impressive figure, often coordinating black trousers with thin striped shirts and matching visor, it’s a pleasure just to watch the fellow swing. Having replaced the standard golfer’s cap with a sort of boater on quote a few occasions, Parvenik is a genuine fashion maverick.
3. BEN HOGAN
Perhaps it was his lean 5-foot-7 frame, but no golfer has ever worn clothes better than Ben Hogan. Impeccable tailoring added to his formidable mystique as one of golf’s all-time grinders. His ever-present cigarette was as much an accessory as a woman’s broach. Hogan’s dress was the model for the country club golfer that emerged shortly after World War II. He’s what a golfer should look like, somewhere between Bing Crosby and a retired billionaire casually pondering the fate of his vast empire.
2. SEVE BALLESTEROS
The ‘car park champion’ himself. Ballesteros was never dull and his personal style brought much needed Latin flair to the stuffier fairways. Early in his career, so focused were people on his choice of clothes that he was quoted as saying: ‘I don’t want people to watch the way I dress. I want people to watch the way I play.’ Devilishly good looking, petulant and funny, Seve’s outfits never disappointed, they turned heads just as frequently as his magically inventive shots.
1. TEDDY RHODES
Teddy Rhodes, second from right, was an African-American golfer who won more than 150 tournaments on the United Golf Association, the golf equivalent of the Negro Leagues. Rhodes had a hipster style with influences from jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Callaway, and Duke Ellington. Rhodes looks as if he could have shaken it with the best of them, something wickedly askance and knowing about his choice of golfwear. We quite simply cannot think of anyone who looks cooler than Teddy Rhodes in the world of golf.
(Honorable mention should go to Ian Poulter, the Ronnie O’Sullivan of the fairway, for his devil-may-blush apparel.)
If you have any favorites, let us know.
And, just for fun, check out this ridiculous (brilliant) shot from the Tiger man.