Wednesday 22 November 2017

Paul Galvin: Styled down to a tee

There's more to golf than digging holes along the fairway, says Paul Galvin

Paul Galvin
Paul Galvin

Paul Galvin

I played golf once. I lost three balls off the first tee, and, by the fourth hole I was back in the clubhouse. There are easier ways to torment oneself without hurting one's back too.

My biggest problem with golf was like Niall Toibin said -- I was standing too close to the ball... after I hit it.

Whatever you say about golf as a sporting pursuit, it has given the world some great one-liners. It's also given us some pretty good fashion, it has to be said. But then, I'm at an age where I'm beginning to appreciate the finer things in life. Such as golf jumpers.

All my friends play and I'm really considering taking it up at this stage. Otherwise I'll have no friends left. When I venture on to the unfairways, terms and conditions apply. And I don't just mean the weather.

A buggy is a must. After all, it's golf, not a treasure hunt or a pilgrimage to Lourdes. The company must also be right, as I like to laugh a lot while I'm out there. Etiquette could be a member of the American Ryder Cup team, for all I know.

Finally, and most importantly, I must have the right gear. I quite like golf gear. J Lindeberg and Lacoste are my favourite brands. They get the sportswear/fashion balance just right.

I've always been a fan of Lacoste. The new creative director, Felipe Baptista, has a tough act to follow in Christophe Lemaire. I really like the look of its golf wear, especially the jumpers. They're smart, sophisticated and don't look out of place in bars or restaurants after the awful golf has ceased.

I was taken by some of the gear at the British Open a few weeks back. Golf apparel and sponsorship is a huge business. The winner of a major can earn millions in prize money and multiply that many times over in endorsements and sponsorship.

Hats, bags and T-shirts are the key pieces for logo sponsorship. It was estimated that Tiger Woods earned $110m in 2008 from multi-million-dollar endorsement contracts. All that changed following the crash, of course. And I don't mean the economic crash.

There's very little a golfer can wear without logos emblazoned on it. Dustin Johnson, the joint runner up to the jovial Darren Clarke, was the winner in the style stakes at Royal St Georges for me. Head to toe in navy Adidas with white golf shoes and a white belt was a cool look.

Not cool enough for the unflappable Irishman, though. If picking up ¤1m prize money wasn't enough, Clarke also picked up ¤2m from Dunlop sportswear for wearing its logo. Both Clarke and Lee Westwood wore the logo for no money up front but for a ¤2 million payout should either win a Major. Clever Chubby Chandler. Sorry Dunlop, I suspect.

I can understand why golfers' gear is important to them. They need to feel comfortable and confident in what they wear. Some of my friends have all the best gear. They really look the part.

Then they line up to take a shot and I wonder if they're gardening or golfing; they're digging holes all over the course.

If there's one endorsement I'd envy it would be that of Camilo Villegas. His deal with J Lindeberg sees him wear jumpers, trousers, tees, hats, knits and outerwear that are, of course, appropriate but also carry genuine fashion kudos.

Rickie Fowler's orange trousers and shoes raised some eyebrows, I'm sure. Golf shoes are a pretty horrendous affair at the best of times, it must be noted. I simply refuse to ever wear them. It was good to see some sartorial expressionism on the course from Fowler, though.

Puma sponsors all his clothes and the brand is getting its money's worth, too. Fowler's talent is as eye-catching as his clothes.

Ian Poulter is the one golfer on the tour with his own golf clothing range. He's known for his rather eccentric behaviour on the course and has an equally loud range available to match.

'Sports Illustrated' last year voted him one of the worst dressed golfers on tour, with the top position taken by Steve Elkington. Whoever he is. Tiger Woods was voted best dressed, surprisingly, ahead of Adam Scott.

I wouldn't be the biggest fan of Poulter's gear, but it's available online at fairwaystyles.com along with all the other ranges including J Lindeberg's Camilo collection and Dunlop, which does nice gear.

The classic golfers' style for me has to be the late, great Seve's. I'm not the biggest golf fan, but icons transcend sporting boundaries. After reading about Seve Ballesteros after he died and looking at pictures of him, it was clear that he was a man of panache and charisma.

The famous picture of him standing on the green, fist clenched having holed, in his navy Slazenger jumper and white shirt, is the epitome of effortless cool. Dustin Johnson wore something similar at this year's British Open, though without a jumper. I feel golfers should always wear jumpers if possible, just like Seve's.

If fashion is cyclical and everything eventually comes back in vogue, then I'm really looking forward to the return of knickerbockers and knee socks. Payne Stewart was a three-time Major winner but he was one of a kind in the style stakes.

His outfit at the 1989 British Open is iconic for me, just like Seve's -- a red flat cap, white polo, pink knickerbockers and white knee socks!

They should have handed over the trophy before a ball was struck. What a man.

I wonder who will be the first to bring them back on the tour. My money's on Darren Clarke. You need cajones for that rig-out and he's got them. Once they return to the tour they'll return to the amateur courses and I'm sure all my golf friends will be rocking them around Ballybunion, Barrow and Slea Head. Then I'll really get into golf just to see that.

So here's to the return of the knicker-bocker. Old trends are best.

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