Honoring National Golf Month
August is National Golf Month, and a great time to celebrate this gentlemanly sport. The game of golf has been around since the 15th century, originating in Scotland, and spreading throughout the United Kingdom and across the pond to the U.S. It was a game played only by the nobility, and of course, only by men. Over the years, the game developed into the golf we know today. Along with its many rule changes from 15th century Scotland, golfer’s styles have developed just as much.
In its early years, the styles reflected the wealth of those who played the sport – formal jackets, tail coats, cravats, breeches, and long stockings were commonplace. Having originated in Scotland, kilts were also a part of the early golfing style (can you imagine the golf swing of a burly man in a kilt? Sexy much?). As the game spread to the U.S., styles reflected the more conservative times of the early 1900s as players wore long trousers, morning coats, and ties. By the 1920s, sweaters became increasingly popular and trousers were often tucked into knee-high, argyle socks. Golf players often looked far from stylish – goofy in fact – especially with those plaid beanie hats on their heads.
During the Great Depression era, golf styles were somewhat stagnated, but by 1940s, sleeved shirts and bow ties began to pick up steam, and bow ties especially became a staple golfing accessory. In the 50s and 60s, golfers like Arnold Palmer and Gary Player opened up the golfing world to more casual styles like khaki pants, sweater vests, and polo shirts, which allowed for more maneuverability. Golfers of the 70s and 80s stuck with many of the same styles, but sported very bright, flashy colors which reflected the vibrant trends of mainstream fashion which included neon colors, grandiose floral patterns and multicolored designs.
Today polo shirts and trousers are the typical attire, along with a visor or baseball cap. While not exactly on the cusp of style, they do look much more decent now than they did with poofed-up trousers stuck in argyle socks.
Although women were not readily accepted as golfers in the early years, many women still fought against convention and played the gentleman’s game, which prompted the evolution of women’s golf styles. Women, as with many other sports, were subjected to wear the same clothes they always wore in society, which in the 1800s included long skirts and blouses that restricted movement. Luckily, with the turn of the century, the early 1900s produced a jacket specially designed for a lady’s golf swing. As skirts slowly were ousted from the required attire for women, they too began to wear trousers, and eventually even Bermuda shorts and polo shirts.
Golfing has always held a reputation of being a gentleman’s sport, even though the clothing style has somewhat diminished from the elegant tail coats of the late 1800s. More than the clothes, though, it’s the players who perpetuate the gentlemanly reputation and while most players seem pretty decent, some golfers (cough, Tiger Woods, cough) better step up their game.
Written By: Mary B.