Gambling | The Smart Money

Golfing style

When it comes to fashion on the fairways, are fancy pants a handicap to Major success? Jamie Reid gets the measure of golf’s sartorial show-offs.

September 19 2009
Jamie Reid

The idea that male golfing attire might be in any way stylish or cool is the sort of proposition that would probably have most self-respecting fashionistas snorting with contempt. Male golfers have traditionally been synonymous with embarrassing checked trousers and either pastel or loud knitwear of the kind worn by old-school comedians and TV personalities playing in a Variety Club match. In fairness, most modern professionals eschew checks in favour of relatively sober patterns along with a uniform baseball cap. But thanks to one or two hip enthusiasts, the plaid-and-polyester look of the 1970s has been given an imaginative makeover.

A few years ago, the Californian graphic designer and golf lover Scott Woodworth identified what he felt was an appetite among younger devotees to “play loud” and put “the fun back into golf”. He responded by forming a clothing company called Loudmouth Golf, which promises customers a return to the “brightly coloured golf pants of yesteryear”. The strides in question combine an eye-watering mixture of primary colours in assorted stripes, spots and chevrons, and each design has a different name – from Shagadelic Green to Hot Dog, Mojo to Pretty Boy. The plaid and patchwork numbers are 100 per cent cotton, while the prints and stripes are 97 per cent cotton, three per cent spandex. There’s a 30in to 36in European fit or a larger, “regular” fit for outsize waistlines. And there are jackets too, including a multicoloured “Après Golf” sports coat, which will apparently help you go straight “from the fairway to the party”.

The resulting collection might not go down too well in the Wentworth or Royal St George’s clubhouses, but it chimes with the view of the über-cool Hollywood star and golfing fanatic Samuel L Jackson that, in the US, golf is the only sport where you could “go dressed as a pimp and fit in perfectly”.

The larger-than-life American John Daly, who won the 1995 British Open at St Andrews, modelled the Loudmouth stock during this year’s Spanish Open in Girona and is currently in negotiations to strike up a long-term deal with the business. The player known as Wild Thing has never been one for conservative options, either on or off the course, but in recent years he hasn’t exactly been storming up the leaderboard. And sceptics wonder whether an ambitious pro would really feel like a winner teeing off in the final round of the Open or the US Masters togged up in Loudmouth’s over-the-top gear.

One man who probably wouldn’t be fazed by that situation is 33-year-old Englishman Ian Poulter, an extremely talented player who finished second in the 2008 Open at Royal Birkdale but who is almost as famous for his trousers as he is for his golf. At the 2004 Open at Royal Troon in Ayrshire he induced apoplexy among the venerable members of the Royal and Ancient after turning up one day in a pair of Union Jack slacks teamed with dark glasses and a back-to-front baseball cap. The following year he compounded his sartorial crimes by playing a round at St Andrews in trousers emblazoned with a claret jug – the trophy traditionally awarded to the Open winner. But new-generation golf nuts like Poulter’s brash approach, and they like his IJP clothes range too, especially the trademark tartan bootleg trousers in sand, navy or jet black (ideally worn with a white belt and a pair of pink or lime green shades).

Poulter’s taste, or lack of it, didn’t prevent him from finishing as the highest-scoring European at last year’s Ryder Cup in Kentucky, where he won four of his five matches. He’s sure to be a leading member of next year’s European Ryder Cup team at the Celtic Manor club in Wales – and the home side are odds-on to regain the trophy – but the bookies reckon he’ll need more than fancy pants to win a Major championship in the US. He can be backed at 100-1 for the 2010 US Masters with Totesport, whereas the Nike-clad Tiger Woods, who has won the coveted Green Jacket four times and no doubt wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair of Loudmouth’s orange and pink harlequin trousers, is the red-hot favourite at 5-2 with Paddy Power.