Sunday, June 21, 2009

On the Golf Shirt

In honour of this weekend's US Open at Bethpage, I bring you my analysis of the golf shirt.

Exhibit A: My favourite target for sartorial judging, Phil Mickelson. This shirt is a freaking disaster. Specifically, it's way, way, WAY too big. The shoulder seams, which should be sitting on, oh, HIS SHOULDERS, would be more accurately described as elbow seams. This has the affect of ruining the line of the shirt, and pulling the weight down and out across his chest, which makes him look like he has girl-boobies. Now, granted, there's a fitness issue here too, but if Phil's shirt fit better, he'd look a lot less pudgy. How poorly this shirt fits is accentuated further by the horizontal stripes, which show off all the places this shirt doesn't sit right on his frame.

Now, to be fair, Phil has gotten a lot fitter in recent years, and he's started dressing better too. Gone are the days of flood pants and balloon shirts, although he still makes the occasional odd choice. For those watching today's round, the striped pants aren't working for me.

Exhibit B: Davis Love III, who, in my opinion, is one of the worst offenders for ill-fitting shirts. I like the colour of the blue number on the right but, like the shirt Phil is wearing above, the fit is way too big. Davis has kind of a funny body, with skinny legs and skinny arms and a bit of a paunch around his middle. Wrapping that body in all this excess fabric makes it worse.

Exhibit C: I don't know anybody with a weirder relationship with his shirts than Paul Goydos. I have no idea why, WHY, he insists on doing up his buttons right to the top. The top button of a golf shirt should always be undone to avoid the being-strangled look that Paul is modelling so successfully here. I did hear him say once when asked about his buttoning habits that the extreme slope of his shoulders and the fact that he has no neck means that if he doesn't do up all the buttons, his shirt falls off. I wonder, though, if he did unbutton the top button, if it might successfully make his shoulders look a little bit broader? Hard to say, but I do know that this looks silly.

I should say that Phil, Paul and Davis are all doing better in these pictures than this choice by Ian Poulter, demonstrating that as much as shirts can be too big, they can also be too tight (look at the arms!), and demonstrating that colour choice is almost as important as fit. This shirt is so bad, it's insulting.Ok, having picked on the bad, let's look at some good. There are lots of guys on tour right now who wear their shirts perfectly fitted for their bodies.

Canadian golfer Mike Weir is a terrific dresser. Note that stylistically, this shirt is very similar to the shirt being worn by Phil in the first photo we reviewed. But everywhere that Phil has done wrong, Mikey has done right. Specifically, the shoulder seams sit on the shoulders so the shirt fits perfectly. Mike's horizontal stripes are all perfectly lined up, indicating that the shirt is sitting on his body exactly the way it's designed to do.

You can't have a conversation about people who dress well on the tour today without including mention of Tiger Woods. Tiger wasn't always a good dresser (anybody remember the panama hat disaster?) and before he filled out, none of his clothes fit right. But recently, it's been all good. The shirt in the picture on the right, Tiger's classic Sunday red, fits perfectly. On cooler days, Tiger also often pairs his shirts with a sweater vest most successfully. With the vest as well, fit is important. It shouldn't pull the shoulders of the golf shirt out of line or cause any unusual wrinkles or tucks.

I'd like to close by speaking to a couple of variations on the classic golf shirt that have appeared in recent years. One that I like and one that I don't. Let's start with the one that I don't. I don't like the mock turtleneck look. It's not that they look bad, exactly, as long as they fit properly, but there's a casualness to them to them that doesn't feel appropriate for the tour. The mock turtleneck also leads nicely into a brief conversation about fabric, because the very light material that many mock turtlenecks are made of make them look like undershirts.

What Sergio is doing here though, I like very much. There are no golfers on tour that swing more between looking fantastic and looking ridiculous than Sergio Garcia. But his ridiculous outfits are so almost 100% of the time because of colour. His clothes always fit right. Here, he's doing a modern interpretation of the traditional golf shirt, sporting a zipper insead of buttons, and angled seaming in towards the collar instead of at the shoulder. It's visually interesting, it fits properly, the white seaming on the black shirt is classic, and I approve entirely.

All three of Sergio, Mike and Tiger are in good physical shape, which helps, but to anybody that thinks that you have to be in good shape to make a shirt look good, let's check out Angel Cabrera. Angel is a big boy, and not at all in good shape (he's one of few PGA players who smokes on the course), but because his shirts fit his body properly, he looks good. See? This shirt is even a bit too big, just judging by where the shoulder seams are sitting, but otherwise, it fits nicely, it's a good colour for him, and the looks is a success as a result.

One last thought, the brighter the colour and/or the funkier the pattern of your shirt, the more important it is to pair the shirt with a neutral pant - black, navy, grey, or tan.

Next time, on my series of posts in which I judge professional golfers on their attire, who should be in the Wears White Pants club, and who shouldn't.


  1. I think Tiger always looks great, even in the mock t-necks.

    Do you know this blog? It's my guilty pleasure.

  2. You crack me up, ENTIRELY, have I mentioned that?

  3. Seriously!: