Back in the 1950s and ‘60s there was no such thing as golf wear. The likes of Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer simply pulled on what was popular in casual fashion back then and teed off. Hence the advent of knitted cardigans; V-necked pullovers and slipovers, self-coloured, short sleeved shirts and narrow brimmed hats appearing on the golf course.
During the 1960s and ‘70s golf attire continued to mirror what was being worn off-course with brighter hues, flared trousers and a far less conservative approach, personified by the kaleidoscope of startling colours sported by Doug Sanders, known as the ‘Peacock of the fairways’, and best remembered in the UK as the man who missed a 30 inch putt to beat Jack Nicklaus at St Andrews for the 1970 Open Championship.
The arrival of Tiger Woods on the golfing scene, with his US Masters’ victory in 1997 just a year after he turned pro, changed everything. Prize money became greater, courses were lengthened and golf fashion became more streamlined and athletic as players started to work out seriously in an effort to keep up with the new superstar. And merchandisers leapt on the golf wear bandwagon keen to cash in.
Shirts in particular became a canvas for numerous logos from sponsors keen to associate themselves with the world’s leading players and pay top dollar for doing so.
With golf transformed into a worldwide commodity, fashion designers had to come up with clothing that was smart, lightweight and cool enough to be worn in places where the temperatures soared. The manufacturers called it ‘Moisture wicking’ and used materials other than cotton that could become heavy with perspiration, interfered with the swing and looked shocking on TV.
US manufacturer Peter Millar created what it calls ‘The Summer Comfort shirt’ that keeps you cool on the golf course, which is spot on for those sultry, clammy days of summer in the UK and pitch perfect for sun splashed days of holiday golf abroad. The shirts also make ideal holiday casual wear that won’t crease in the suitcase either.
Available in a variety of stylish and tasteful colours, Millar clothing follows that great dress code maxim, ‘If you wouldn’t wear it off the golf course then certainly don’t wear it on the golf course.’
Tim Cowley is currently stocking the Peter Millar range of Summer Comfort Shirts as worn in the US by Brandt Snedeker and South Africa by Branden Grace.