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Fashion on the Fairways

 article about 80\
It'sS not so long ago that loud, collar-less shirts and colourful
trousers wouldn't have gotten you further than the locker room. But
times have changed. Today's new breed of Tour professionals are
changing the image of the game.

They're daring to be
different and are not afraid to make a statement. Just look at Ian
Poulter. Five years ago, Ian was quietly making his way up the Order of
Merit on The European Tour, when he decided a change of image was the
way forward. Out go the finely sculpted sideburns, in comes the mad
hair, crocodile skin belts and pink trousers. And the result? Every man
and his dog now know who Ian Poulter is.

Nobody can put their
finger on precisely when things first started to look up and golfing
fashion actually started to become fashionable. Perhaps it was the
Scandinavian influence. Maybe it was when Jesper Parnevik stepped on to
the first tee at the Bob Hope Desert Classic in 1997, wearing
streamlined trousers, offset by his fashion accessory George Burns big
cigar and Popeye cap.

The whole movement, the whole
modernisation of fashion in golf, started right there, explained Johan
Lindeberg, designer of Parneviks unconventional look, and owner of
Lindeberg fashion house. I always thought Jesper was a great looking
guy but he just looked terrible in the clothes he was wearing. He
looked like Bobby Ewing from Dallas. I took Jesper from Bobby Ewing and
turned him into Steve McQueen.

Parnevik was arguably the first
player to take golf fashion to new heights. He was the leader of the
pack and others have slowly but surely followed in his footsteps.
Inevitably, it has been the younger players who have adopted new
styles, while players such Monty, Woosie and Bernhard Langer are more
than happy to stick with what they know.

The last few seasons
have seen a whole line-up of young guns upping the fashion stakes on
this side of the Atlantic. Nick Dougherty was the first to step up to
the challenge, unconventionally streaking his hair red to show his
devotion to Manchester United FC. Polo Ralph Lauren were quick to spot
Doughertys marketability and snapped him up as their representative on
the fairways. Tag Heuer followed suit.

Alongside Dougherty,
Poulter has emerged as the peoples favourite. Flambuoyant, with a touch
of arrogance, the Englishmans dress sense is as unpredictable as the
weather, but you can guarantee hes going to stand out regardless. I
just like to make it fun for myself and for everybody else, admitted
Poulter. We need a few characters out there, otherwise people would
think it is a bland and boring sport, and that is exactly what it is
not.

Poulter and Dougherty sit at the helm of golfs Brat Pack,
with Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell all playing their
part in bringing up the rear. All young, all good looking, and all
winners on either the European Tour or PGA Tour, they are the face and
the future of the game. I'm definitely into fashionable clothes, says
Justin, but the real change for me is that big sports brands have made
the game more sporty, which appeals to the kids more. Golf's now
trendier than it's ever been.

Right now, synthetic fibres are
out, cotton and linen are in. Bright colours, sleeker cuts and bolder
lines are the look that the likes of Lindeberg, Hugo Boss, Lacoste,
Prada, Burberry and Polo Ralph Lauren are adopting. "People are now
trying to find a more individual style, said Lindeberg. With all the
new fabrics, everyone can be comfortable in a tight fit. You'll feel
more athletic, your wives will be happier and you'll actually play
better."

These days, there are enough styles around to
suit everyone. Some choose to stand out from the crowd, others prefer
to blend in. After a few years of relative elusiveness, Swede Fredrik
Jacobson decided it was time to stand in the limelight, and not just
for his golf. Winner of two titles on The European Tour last season,
Jacobson is easily recognisable, dressed, like his fellow countryman
Parnevik, by Lindeberg.

We spend over 200 days a year
playing golf tournaments, so its nice to wear something you like and
feel comfortable in, said Fredrik, who was described by Lindeberg as,
more old-style punk rocker than conventional Tour pro.

Jacobson concurred: Thats why Ive chosen the clothes I have.

The
latest player to join the fashion ranks is Darren Clarke. Having
dropped 44 pounds in weight over the winter months, Clarke decided to
opt for a new wardrobe, with bold, bright patterns to match his more
modest frame. Maybe its a mid-life crisis, I dont know, smiled Darren.
I do know they dont need as much material to make my trousers now, so
maybe Im a little more comfortable wearing clothes that stand out.

While
fashion houses these days are clambering over each other to release
their latest lines onto the market, it has not always been the case.
With a few notable exceptions in the past, most of the latest trends
never made it on to the fairway. Comfort was the order of the day, and
comfort largely came in the shape of cashmere. Or plaid. Needless to
say, it wasnt a pretty sight.

In the days of Walter Hagen
and Bobby Jones, in the 1930s, baggy knickers were fashionable,
neckties were commonplace and tailored jackets or long coats were the
norm. Style seemed to be a prerequisite. But as World War II came and
went, elegance went out and casual came in. Ben Hogan played in a
cardigan and Sam Snead wore a straw hat.

Fashion in golf has
constantly been evolving, changing from era to era. Unlike team
players, golfers have the luxury of choice, but it seems as though it
isnt necessarily a good thing. In the late 1950s, Esquire Magazine ran
an article aptly labelled The Grey Flannel World of Golf." Grey, black
and white were the colours of the day, and with the exception perhaps
of Jimmy Demaret, bright colours were nowhere to be seen. But the
introduction of colour television in the mid-60s changed everything.
Suddenly there was a reason to dress boldly.

Doug Sanders was
one of the first to step into the limelight in the States and he soon
earned the nickname of the Peacock of the Fairways, while several
European players produced their own personal identities. Tony Jacklin
became famous for his all-purple outfit and the turtlenecks he wore
when he won The Open Golf Championship in 1969.

The 70s came
and went, with tight fitting trousers leading the way in the fashion
stakes. Trousers became tight at the waist and flared at the bottom.
Plaid patterns were on everybodys Christmas list, in comparison to
todays fashion, where plaid would be on the fashion polices most wanted
list.

The 80s were the era fashion forgot. For a long time,
golf was stuck in a 1980s sand trap, said Lindeberg with a wry smile.
The clothes were ridiculously baggy and lumpy. I wanted to challenge
the 80's establishment and inspire them to a new and more modern look.

Few
players stood out for their attire in the 80s, with the exception of
the late Payne Stewart, who stepped into a fashion time machine,
wearing plus fours, shirt and ties, calling it his contribution to
preserving the history of the game.

With the 90s came Tiger
Woods, soft collars, no collars and an abundance of v-neck jumpers. But
when Jesper Parnevik stepped on to the first tee at the Bob Hope Desert
Classic all those years ago, fashion stepped up to the next level.


Todays fairways are awash with a myriad of colours and styles. Some
players keep up with the times, others merely stick with what feels
comfortable. One of the problems of being a dedicated follower of
fashion is that it draws the attention of the crowds. To stand out on
the fashion front means that youve got to have the game to get away
with it. Once youve made yourself noticed youve got to produce the
goods. That in itself can create unwanted pressures.

But
regardless of how fashionable players think they look today, you can
guarantee that there will come a time when they look back and wonder
what on earth possessed them to think they actually looked good.



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