With the golf season now upon us, colourful and crazy outfits are sprouting like tulips on the green. I began to wonder where the tradition of flamboyant golf attire stemmed from. With a little bit of research, here is what I dug up…
The game of golf began, as most of us know, in Scotland in the early 1700’s. Scottish shepherds played golf in the clothes they wore—sensible clothing to battle the elements that included kilts, short pants (knickers), stockings and heavy tweed jackets. Once the game was adopted by the European nobility, proper golf attire reflected the fashions of those who played—knee length breeches, stockings, waistcoats and ruffled cravats.
The early 1900’s brought longer pants into fashion, but the golfer was slower to change and continued to wear shorter pants, often tucking long pants into knee high socks. And keeping with the formal traditions of their predecessors, continued to wear formal attire including jackets, vests and ties. This would mark the point at which the fashion of golf took a turn away from the style of the time and became a style all its own. By the 1930’s, due to the weather conditions, jackets were removed in favour of lighter weight v-neck sweaters, ties were replaced with bowties, and socks became more colourful.
By the end of the 20th century the fashion of tucking pants into socks was finally abandoned. But in order to compensate for the lack of colour in socks that were no longer visible under long pants, wild and crazy colour and pattern combinations were making their way into the rest of the golf attire. Perhaps it was the introduction of sponsorship and branding from companies like Nike in the 21st century that has curbed the golfer’s affection for plaids and argyles in favour of more solid colour combinations, along with practical polo shirts and baseball caps.
But don’t worry… as with any fashion, it is only a matter of time before a trend returns. Although I trust cleats will still prevail over the high heels of the nobility.