I remember back in (primary) school, I was just an average scholar in academics. However I went on to try every extra mural activities just to make up for my academics. Even though those extra mural activities did not account to my academic year mark, I still wanted do something I could shine in.
I went on to participate in cultural and traditional arts activities; sing in a school choir and even competed in class debates. From there I went to sports and it was yet another challenge since there was a whole lot of good sportsmen to compete with, just to make the team. Soccer was the prime and pretty much the only sport we could play and compete as boys, unfortunately there was a lot of us which made the chances of making the cut even slimmer. There was however seasonal athletics which only took place in the first term of the academic year. At least I found my moment to shine as I competed in the tracks, specifically the 100m and 200m. I also made the cut for long jump; discus and javelin throw but then since it was temporary and short term, I couldn’t pursue it further.
I got to high school and I was just focused on my academics and my looks, of course. After a year of no sporting activities happening in my life I got inspired by my classmate who was doing well in swimming. I was inspired by him taking up a sport which was rare for a black child. I wanted to join him but I thought twice about it especially since I didn’t know how to swim. I wanted to play a sport that is different and that will make me look different from other kids. Coming back from school I saw my neighbour practising golf in his yard and right there it clicked. I started going to his house and watched him as he continued to practice in his yard. I told him that I am willing to caddy for him when the schools go on a break, in return I get taught how to play the game. While I waited impatiently to go caddy for him, I started reading golf books to learn more about the sport. As I was studying the books I was captured by the history and heritage of the sport and most of all was how they used to dress back in the days.
Finally the school break came and I went to the golf course to caddy for my neighbour and felt so close to heaven. The lash green fairways; silky smooth bunkers; the giant gum trees; the whistling birds; and the golden silence was just refreshing. The environment was so blissful it was like The Garden of Eden. I saw other kids practising there and from there I wanted to be part of that group regardless of circumstances. As I continued to practice and learn more about the game I was falling in love with the perished vintage fashion of golf.
Golf is or should I say was a classic gentleman’s sport and the attired that was worn by the likes of Bobby Jones; Walter Hagen and the others of that era epitomised what and how golf was supposed to be. Talking about Bobby Jones, reminds me of the movie “Stroke of a genius” documenting his golfing life. That is still my old time favourite and I believe it’s a must have or at least a must watch for every golfer. Looking at today’s golfing world, a lot has changed from dress code which used to be a tradition that was religiously followed. Nowadays modern golf clubs are losing that tradition and it brings tears to my eyes. I remember my first junior golf competition I dressed up exactly like Payne Stewart and all my peers looked at me with a raised eyebrow. To them I looked very odd but all the other senior golfers loved what they saw as it brought memories of the fallen golfing heroes. At that time I was not that good, as it was my first time playing competitive golf. My aim was not to win but to take part. I always said “if your golf is not good at least look good”.
Although the dress code is no longer as strict like before, where golfers had to wear a shirt and tie, golfers have lost even the modern simple look. The general dress code tradition had few rules such as “no jeans allowed”; “a collared shirt at all times”; “short white visible socks for Bermuda shorts” just to name a few. With my past experience working at golf clubs it was a mission to enforce these rules. There was the simplest etiquettes of just tucking in a golf shirt, but it was a mission for guys to do so. It’s understandable when the shirt pops out while playing but at least look presentable on the first tee.
With fashion raising the bar, it has definitely done that in golf and we have seen a huge transformation in this department. Of course with this transformation it was not just about looking fashionably fabulous but also comfortable. Looking on the professional side, we’ve seen a lot of pros going through challenges of injuries from the sport. I know for the non-golfing gents are probably thinking how does one encounters injuries in golf. Well as relaxing as it may look injuries are encountered mostly when playing competitively like professionals. So as a results of some injuries like knee or ankle due to long undulating walks and reflex movements when playing the game fashion in golf focuses more on comfort.
We’ve seen Tiger Woods shifting from the traditional golf shoe to a NIKE sneaker looking golf shoe due to his injuries. Fred Couples also had his own signature street shoes by ECCO and from there almost every golf brand had something similar. As comfortable as they are, they changed golf’s formal look into a more casual relaxed look. Due to comfortability and health reasons as they say, I didn’t have a problem with it. My old time favourite pair was the FOOTJOY premium classic, but after comfort tests and comparisons with other brands’ premium shoes, FOOTJOY classics where discontinued. Although they were replaced by the FJ Icon just to keep that feel of a classic golf shoe, they were not as good looking as the FJ Classic.
We all know fashion is influenced by trends and with the media making it easier for these trends to penetrate and circulate everywhere and anywhere, golfers have fallen into that trap. Look at the head gear and how it has evolved through time. I mean from the tweed woven flat cap to the modern flat cap, now there goes my raised eyebrow. I thought these modern flat caps were for the hip-hop fraternity, I guess I was wrong or should I say it is the latest trend influenced by hip-hop. So the look continues to be casual and more street styled. Hip-hop has been headlining and making waves and it has definitely influenced fashion drastically. We also know that top pro golfers making waves are still in their early to mid-20s, meaning they’re still young and outgoing. With that said they will embrace these latest trends and the masses will be easily captured and they’ll definitely follow. I mean did you see the latest sneaker golf shoe by PUMA TITANTOUR worn by Ricky Fowler. While we still there did you see the cropped jogging pants he paired with those sneakers. What’s next? Hopefully it won’t get worse.
I wish to see the classic gentleman make a come-back in the golfing world. As much as the vintage fashion has been revived on the runway and on the streets, hopefully the same return will be on the fairways. After reading this I’d suggest you get yourself the movie “Stroke of a genius” and if you have it or watched it you’ll know what inspired this piece.
Until next time, keep it classy