The clothes make the golfer

Masters champion Senor Olazabal tastefully appointed at the 2011 Masters. It looks good on him.

Masters champion Senor Olazabal tastefully appointed at the 2011 Masters. It looks good on him.

It’s always pleasing to notice that someone prominent has – obviously through the application of sound reasoning – come to an opinion that you have long espoused. I was just expressing the very same truism to a golf shirt manufacturer of my acquaintance recently when I couldn’t help but notice that Scott Mahoney, CEO of golf clothier Peter Millar agrees. Mr. Mahoney’s shirts were, according to a recent Q&A in Sports Business Journal, “well represented” at the recent ex-Presidents Cup. The company apparently outfitted the entire visiting team, and several of the Americans.

Under a category headed: “On the more outlandish looks:” Mahoney commented:

A guy like Ian Poulter looks great; he’s got cool stuff. But me, a 47-year old businessman, if I tried to wear it, I would look stupid (emphasis added). A guy in his 40s and overweight trying to wear the Ricky Fowler orange game-day outfit. . .it’s a funny thing. Certainly, golf apparel leads the way with a lot of what happens on the market.

Of course he’s right, as I’ve long believed, and observed. In his excellent oral history, The Big Beat, drummer Max Weinberg visits with Dino Danelli. The beat of The Rascals and, before that, The Young Rascals tells Weinberg about the ridiculous band uniforms their manager required back in the days when “groups” wore uniforms. They’d appear on stage, the laughter would be immediate and derisive, dressed as they were in their little page boy outfits. Then, Danelli said, they would start to play and blow the house down. Exactly. They had…game. You dress like that, or like Ricky Fowler or Ian Poulter, etc., you better.

As to Mahoney’s last point, that is, I’m afraid, regrettable. But does the Tour really set the trends? I wonder. The same was admittedly true to some extent with Payne Stewart’s “look.” There were, making the rounds, some ghastly, NFL-themed knickers, with flag shirts and tams – for a time. I even remember watching a Legends of Golf pro-am participant tee off – with suspenders! For Payne the silly outfits provided him with the added, and likely unexpected benefit of a perfect disguise.

In public he could dress “normally.” One time he was standing directly in line in front of me at an airport ticket counter. Jim Warters, a lovely man, scribe and former PGA official, was alongside me. We chatted amiably for several minutes before Payne, who knew Jim, turned around, smiled and said hello. It was confirmation again of Payne’s successful cover, again having shielded him from his celebrity, providing what must have – more than once – welcome anonymity.