Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Walter Hagen. The World Golf Hall of Fame is stacked with legendary talent. Sure, the mere act of being able to drive a ball further than an Olympic track is incredibly impressive, but golf's stars have often failed the reach the green in one area that so many other sports have excelled at. Fashion.
In sport, fashion has the potential to have a widespread cultural impact. The purpose of a sneaker deal or collaboration is, of course, to profit from the fans. But with the right creative team, fashion has the potential to alter the public perception of a sport. Off the green, brands like Manors Golf, Bogey Boys, and NOCTA are leading the pack.
In the UK, Manors Golf is on a mission to reintroduce style to the game and reclaim the sport for the everyman. Its collections have cherry-picked traditional sports styles, such as the knitted vest and polo shirt, and given them a new lease of life with contemporary cuts and colorways that are just as wearable on the street as the green. The brand's most impressive feat saw it collaborate with adidas on a collection that reimaged golfing culture and style through the lens of the Champions League. This unique take on the sport highlighted its cross-cultural connections and offered a new stylistic vision for players of the game.
On the other side of the pond, we have Bogey Boys. When Macklemore isn't poppin' tags or sending Kendrick Lamar awkward texts, he's making traditional golf style playful and fun with Bogey Boys. Unlike Manors' clean looks, Bogey is graphic and print-heavy and certainly isn't scared of color. It's bright, it's bold, and it's a far cry from the beige slacks of the Ryder Cup.
Although Nike is responsible for some of the sport's dullest threads, its modern efforts have upped the levels of functional style. Between its mainline, Drake's latest NOCTA collection, and a slew of golf shoe remixes of hype sneakers, the bar is being raised – signaling an exciting future for golfing fashion.
Despite these efforts, golf still has a long way to go.
Take Jordan Brand – or more specifically, silhouettes like the Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan 4. With Nike, Michael Jordan's legacy has had a larger cultural impact than being (arguably) the best basketballer of all time; it made basketball sneakers the go-to off-court fashion statement. What started as sports shoes reached the peak of high fashion, replicated by the likes of Saint Laurent and Gucci.
The same can be said of track and field, with the dominance of running sneakers in the mainstream. It's hard for a week to go by without a sportswear brand delivering a high-end collaboration or replication – see Balenciaga's footwear arsenal and CDG's Salomon team-up.
Sure, golf has its own athlete sponsorship deals with the same sportswear giants that dominate the NFL, NBA, and football leagues, but stylistically, they don't swing. As such, golfer's style is typically nothing worth raving about – except for when Brooks Koepka repped a version of Virgil Abloh's Off-White™ x Nike Air Max 90s. For a sport typically catered to middle-aged white men that are happiest in a polo and slacks, this comes as no surprise.
Hopefully, as the perception of, and accessibility to golf continues to change, a new wave of golf style icons and brands will rise to the surface.
For more on golf, see which team was the best dressed at the Ryder Cup, and how Christian Hafer is helping golf get its swing back.