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6 Guidelines for Golf Course Style

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Rules. Before we’re even old enough to talk, our lives begin to revolve around rules. Don’t pick your nose. Bedtime. Chores. No Cinemax after 10 p.m. Don’t put that in your mouth (a pretty good rule even when you’re a adult). The thing about rules is that most of them seem like they’re created to keep us from having any fun. That’s just how life is.

When we get older, we have to worry about more rules; and then we start playing golf. The only game known to man that requires a 581-page rule book (plus an appendix). We already have enough rules to follow. So when I sat down to write this, I decided on guidelines instead. Guidelines are much easier to swallow than rules. So, these are not strict “must do’s.” They’re a collection of insights that can help you not look like a fool out there.

In 1991, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam convinced every man in America that it was cool to not care how you looked, and since then, we’ve been treated to oversized flannels, baggy cargo pants and men just dressing like lazy slobs in general. Remember Tiger’s huge shirts and trousers that looked like parachute pants in the 90’s? Or the U.S. Ryder Cup Team’s shirts at Brookline that looked like Norman Rockwell had a few too many juleps and hurled on them? Ugh. Fortunately, there’s been a movement since around 2007. Men are starting to care again, and I love it.

For too long, we golfers had few viable options when it came to clothes for the course. Over the last few years, a wave of new companies has come to fix that. Linksoul, Travis Mathew, Devereux, and William Murray have become household golf names. But even the more established companies are stepping up their game, Puma and Ralph Lauren being two of the most notable. Some lesser known, but great lines are Q.E.D. and Rool Golf, as well as Black Clover. And you can never, EVER go wrong with anything from Arnold Palmer Apparel.

Disclaimer: I do not receive any monetary compensation from any of the companies that appear in this article. Just to make that clear.

Plenty of companies are offering modern options for you to look great, so there’s no reason to hit the course looking like you don’t belong… or you don’t respect where you are or the game you’re playing. Golf doesn’t need to be a stuffy dinner party, but it also shouldn’t look like a NASCAR tailgate party. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll never be accused of being ready for either.

1. Fit is (The) King

Arnie always knew how a shirt should fit.

Arnie knew how a shirt should fit.

This should be common sense, but a lot of guys overlook it. The finest shirt in the world will look like absolute garbage on you if it doesn’t fit correctly. Look at the tag, and look for the terms “Athletic Fit”, “Slim Fit,” or “Tailored Fit.” These cuts won’t be boxy or “blousey” like Tiger’s shirts from the 90s. And they’ll make you look slimmer.

Check the sleeves and make sure they don’t pass below your elbows. Just below the bicep is perfect. In shorts, length is paramount. No disrespect to Nike, but their shorts belong in a skate park. Most companies make their shorts too long. Check out Original Penguin for examples of how shorts should fit a grown man, ending just above the knee.

2. Forget about “Tech Fibers”

The biggest problem with the shiny, moisture-wicking performance fibers designed for athletic performance is exactly that. They aren’t designed for anything else. As soon as you step off the course, you look out of place. You can’t toss a cardigan on or a blazer and head to the bar for cocktails and trash talk wearing one; it’s just wrong. Choose something with natural fibers, something that’s actually woven. There’s nothing wrong with a little tech, but if it can’t go from the course to the lounge and then to dinner, it doesn’t need to be in your closet.

3. Respect your Feet

Canoos_Golf_Shoes

Canoos makes some of the coolest golf shoes around.

Those clunky, chunky, cheap golf shoes you found in the clearance section? That’s disrespect in the highest order. The first things someone notices about a man is his watch and his shoes. They don’t need to be FootJoy Icons (even though it’s a fantastic choice), but there are plenty of high quality options.

Adidas is killing it with old school sneaker styles. And please, PLEASE throw your sandal-spikes in the trash immediately. It’s worse than wearing Crocs if you aren’t a chef. If you really want to pull of the casual look with some character, check out Canoos. Its boat shoes and canvas sneakers are the coolest thing around right now.

4. Accessorize, But at Your Own Risk

Carrera Shades

Carrera Shades

The days of big, gawdy belt buckles are over. Get something nice and slim, or even something with a check or stripe on it. Even the white belt at this point is getting a little blah. Andre 3000 said that every man should have one thing in his wardrobe that “blings.” Not four, just one. That’s a fantastic guideline. Whether it’s your watch, your socks, your belt, or a bracelet, let one thing you wear pop from everything else.

As for sunglasses, unless you’re a track star, a Formula 1 driver, or Henrik Stenson, you don’t need the ultra techy wrap-around sport shades. Stick to something cool. Something smooth. A pair of Persols should do nicely, but there are plenty of cheaper options like something Steve McQueen would’ve worn on the course. Actually, just use Steve McQueen every time you ask, “Should I wear this?” You’ll be just fine.

5. White Pants (When to Stop)

I have a few pair of white trousers. You have to have a couple, because they get dirty in a hurry. I love wearing them, and I love that I see a ton of Tour guys wearing them. They’re incredibly sharp… but there really does come a point in the season when it’s not OK to wear white pants. Fall is for darker colors, earthy tones, and thicker fabrics. It’s rain-pant weather. Fall isn’t for the white pants you wore when playing in San Diego a few months ago. The Labor Day rule no longer applies, but it has been expanded thanks to GQ’s Style Guy, Glenn O’Brien (Miss you Glenn). As a general guideline, once the MLB Playoffs start, put the white pants away and let them sit until spring.

6. Okay, Maybe a Couple Rules

McQueen

I can’t list these as merely guidelines. It’s 2017, and certain things just should not be a part of your wardrobe. And to be honest, they never should have been in the first place:

  • Jean Shorts: Burn them. Burn. Every. Single. Pair. Now.
  • Ditch the Pleats: Are you smuggling two pigeons in your pants? No, you’re not.
  • Long White or Black Socks (with shorts): Either go for something like Stance Socks or stick with no-shows or ankle socks. If you’re going to show some sock game, better make sure it’s on fleek.
  • Dress Code Disrespect: There are plenty of courses I play that allow T-shirts, and I love playing in a T-shirt and shorts. But if a course has a dress code, just please respect it. Don’t be the guy who shows up in jeans and tries to get away with it by claiming he didn’t know. Don’t be that guy.

Most of us have office jobs or jobs that require wearing some type of uniform. The golf course is one of the remaining outlets for us to express our individual style. So have fun with it and enjoy it. It’s OK to put some thought into what you wear to the course, guys. Don’t let Grunge win.

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Bryan is a former college golfer and aspiring Tour pro, and a very, very amateur writer who has a flair for over-indulgent, drippy commentary. He once came "this close" to getting in a fight with Nick Swisher outside a Cleveland strip club. At least once in his life he's wanted to be a tailor, chef, fireman, Indians 3rd baseman, astronaut, actor, lounge singer, hand model, DJ (Named DJ BPM) motorcycle racer... and Ryan Gosling. He's addicted to watches and shoes, and has three life rules; Do what makes you happy, find the love of a great woman, and wear anything Tom Ford makes. He's really just hoping in ten years when he joins the Champions Tour to be sponsored by a bourbon company and smoke cigars with Miguel Angel Jimenez. His best friends describe him as "Slightly nicer than a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread"...

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Cliff

    Nov 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Credibility of author was gone once he admitted he owns and wears white pants……

  2. alanp

    Nov 4, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    nice article man. doesnt surprise me it is lost on most of the old dudes. they probably dont listen to music on the course either.

  3. Jimmy Ray

    Nov 3, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I don’t know why y’all are hating on this article. It brings up some good points that a lot of you should follow. I’ve got a fabric tip for ya. I’m in the apparel business, and I can tell you that most guys don’t understand the difference between “wicking” and “breathable”. They’re not the same. Far from it. Nike DriFit is wicking. As a general rule, it doesn’t breathe (pique’s excepted). That goes for every poly shirt you own (Climacool, etc.), plus the nylon ones (Columbia fishing shirts, etc.). Yes, looks great when sweating and dries quickly. Cool? Not so much. And learn to love the stank, cause you ain’t wearing it more than once before washing. So what’s the alternative? An open weave like a cotton pique, linen or cotton/poly pique. I’m watching cotton make a big comeback, with Linksoul leading the way. Short of an 85 degree sticky day, their 65/35 blend fabric rocks. Will never wear plastic off the course again.

  4. Scott

    Nov 3, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Spend, spend, spend spend. I am an over 50, happily married, golfer. Who am I trying to impress? Sure, I try to look nice, but I am not going out clubbing after I play. When you tee off before 7:30 in the morning, why wouldn’t I want to a high tech golf shirt? All I am doing, before I get back to the rest of what I need to do for the rest of the day, is golfing. Then guess what, I am putting on lawn mowing clothes, or going to take the kids wherever clothes. Yes, some of my shirts and shorts look better than others, but oh well.

  5. steve mcqueen

    Nov 3, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    If you worried more about your game and less about you clothes you might not be an “aspiring tour pro” anymore.

  6. Ronald Ousterhaus

    Nov 2, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Great… another elitist article on how to do golf right. I wonder if other sports and recreational activities worry so much about whether you can transition to dinner in a blazer or not (dinner jackets, really?!). I get that a lot of golfers belong to clubs etc., but that is not golf. That’s a lifestyle. Too many people get these confused.

  7. Rano

    Nov 2, 2017 at 8:36 am

    “There’s nothing wrong with a little tech, but if it can’t go from the course to the lounge and then to dinner”

    I don’t know why people insist on wearing the same thing they just wore on the course, out for dinner. Get changed, not only will you look better, you’ll smell better too…

    • Scott

      Nov 3, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Yes, Rano. it is called a golf shirt for a reason.

  8. C.B.

    Nov 2, 2017 at 2:04 am

    1991? What on earth are you talking about? Grunge? Don’t you know the 60’s? That’s when “wear whatever the heck you want” started. Not in the 90’s! I guess you’re too young to know anything.
    The 90’s in sports clothing and clothing in general all across the globe was all about baggy and large – all you have to do is look at the football (soccer) kits in the 90’s and you’ll know exactly how we got out of the short-shorts of the 80’s and landed there.
    Complete shank to this article. Do be so kind as to never write anything again about fashion.

    • Bryan Metzler

      Nov 2, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      I might not be old enough to remember the 60’s, but I’ve done more than enough research on the evolution of clothing and style over the decades. You’re right about two things. The clothes in the 90’s were WAY too baggy, that’s exactly what I was saying. And, they did wear whatever they wanted in the 60’s. But where you’re mistaken is that the clothing in the 60’s was absolutely about looking good and putting on a show and who had the flashiest outfit or the biggest bell-bottoms. 60’s fashion was all about rebellion from the drab grey button down world of the 50’s, and they wanted everyone to notice them, especially across the pond. The grunge style was a rebellion in the opposite way, trying to look as boring as possible after the “Everyday is a Fashion Show” mentality of the 80’s. I may have forgotten (i.e., been too hungover) to do my homework in Poli-Sci in college, but I paid attention to the stuff that really makes the world go round.

      • C.B.

        Nov 3, 2017 at 3:34 am

        I was talking about the hippies, duh, in counterpoint to how you brought up Pearl Jam and grunge. So no, the 60’s was not all about looking good and clean like James Bond. Early 60’s as it bled on from the 50’s may be, but the mid to late 60’s was grimy and dirty, hippy culture and such bleeding into the 70’s with the tie-dye and whatnot, Woodstock? Not clean and dapper, is it? Easy Rider, the rebel biker imagery and styles? We’re not talking about Flannel Suits there, my friend! In the 90’s yeah we had flannel shirts with grunge and unkept hair, for sure! 80’s was not every day is a fashion show. What on earth are you blethering about? The first 4 years of the 80’s may have been strangely bright and post-punk and color mohawks and heavy metal and big hair bands and such, but after 85? Less so. There was a yearning for the 50’s and it went back to clean cut and straight jeans again, less color crazy – Back to the Future? But, yeah, I am not mistaken. You are. I don’t think you paid attention at all. You missed out on a lot.

  9. Hans

    Nov 1, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    if you live in a hot/humid climate, not wearing tech fabrics isnt really an option. go wet out a cotton shirt with sweat and it wont look good off the course anyway. perhaps for some climates the natural fibers look good off the course advice works, but it just is a big fail anywhere hot/humid.

    • Cameron

      Nov 1, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      Glad someone said it! 35* summer days mean high-tech breathable fabric is a necessity!

  10. James

    Nov 1, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    You lost me when you used “on fleek”

  11. Acemandrake

    Nov 1, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Dress like an adult and you won’t need any other attire guidelines/rules.

  12. Huh?

    Nov 1, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Unless you plan to be on “the beach” all day please don’t show up at the course wearing ankle socks. So inappropriate. . .

  13. DoubleMochaMan

    Nov 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I never understand white pants in the off-season, playing in the mud. Or even khakis…

  14. Golfer

    Nov 1, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Dress for success. (And to feel good) Look the part. You can always be buried in your jeans, t-shirt and ball cap. Don’t rush it.

  15. Andrew

    Nov 1, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Nobody rocks their clothing on and off the course like Adam Scott and Miguel Angel Jimenez. It’s not even a contest. Strive for that.

  16. Andrew

    Nov 1, 2017 at 11:55 am

    “Oooh. White pants! Who’s that?”
    – Trashy bimbo in heals at the Phoenix Open.

    Don’t be that guy, Bryan.

  17. Smith

    Nov 1, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I like everything about this article, but there’s one thing I always find is missing when golf course style discussions take place, and that’s the issue of ankle socks with pants.

    JT is one of the most stylish golfers out there, no doubt, but I hate that he’s always rocking white ankle socks with his outfits. This article takes issue with long socks with shorts – why not the other way around as well?

    • Jacob

      Nov 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Agreed. Ankle socks with shorts, crew socks with pants, and no-show socks with the garbage can.

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Podcasts

Mondays Off (Ep. 3): “Where does Tiger’s 2018 Tour Champ win rank among his 80 career wins?”

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Was Tiger Woods’ win at the 2018 Tour Championship one of the best victories of his career? Did this win complete the greatest comeback in sports history? Is Tiger definitely going to win another major? Can he still catch Jack Nicklaus? Club pro Steve Westphal and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky cover everything Tiger Woods and more on this episode of the newly named “Mondays Off” podcast.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Tiger Woods completes arguably the greatest comeback story in sports history

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Sports have an uncanny way of teaching us about life. And there’s no greater life lesson than the athlete and the man who goes by Tiger Woods.

I first fell in love with golf while watching Tiger play the 1997 Masters with my father. Tiger is the reason that I, like millions of golfers throughout the world, including some of his professional contemporaries today, started playing and loving the game.

For basically his entire life, from the moment he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show at 2-years-old, until his world came infamously crashing down on Thanksgiving 2009, he was “perfect.” He was dominant, impactful, charismatic and invincible — what the world uncovered, however, was that his persona was a carefully crafted facade.

While he continued to play great golf despite injuries and surgeries through 2014, his Superman cape was tarnished, and his respect as a man was all but diminished.

From 2014 until 2017, the world watched Tiger Woods the athlete decay. He’d make minor comebacks after major back surgeries, but the letters “WD” replaced the number “1” next to Tiger’s name on leaderboards for years. And he also developed what was either the chipping yips, or an utter breakdown in his once-superior chipping technique. To all observers, aside from Tiger apologists, it seemed his golf career was likely over.

What was tragic for Tiger the athlete looked as though it’d turn into a tragedy for Tiger the man after his very public DUI in 2017 following his spine fusion surgery earlier that year. Tiger was completely vulnerable, and seemingly, completely broken. He was whatever the opposite is of his former self. Had he faded into oblivion after that, it would have been understandable, if not recommended.

But that’s not what happened. Despite every talking head in sports media saying Tiger was done (not that I didn’t agree at the time), Tiger waited for his back to heal upon doctors orders, then began his comeback to golf. It started with videos on social media of him chipping, then hitting irons, then his patented stinger.

In December of 2017, Tiger finished T9 in the 18-player field at his Hero World Challenge… a respectable finish considering what he had been through. As the season continued, he pieced together 4 consecutive rounds on many occasions, actually giving himself a few chances to win tournaments (the Valspar, Arnold Palmer, Quicken Loans and the Open come to mind). But his late-tournament confidence was clearly shaken; he was struggling to close the deal.

At the 2018 PGA Championship, Tiger had the attention of the entire sporting world when it looked that he had a serious chance to win his 15th major. But ultimately, he finished runner-up to a superior golfer that week in Brooks Koepka. All things considered, the week was a win for Tiger and his confidence… but it wasn’t a win.

The questions changed after the PGA Championship from “Can Tiger win again?” to “When will Tiger win again?”

Well, that question has been answered. Tiger Woods won the 2018 Tour Championship. Is it a major? No, it’s not. Some say the event itself is essentially just a money grab for the best 30 players of the season. But that’s the thing; the tournament hosts the best 30 players of the season all competing for big money. And you can bet it matters to the players on top of the leaderboard.

Tiger’s Tour Championship victory doesn’t mean he’s going to beat Jack’s record. Because he probably won’t. And maybe he won’t even win another major, although he’ll surely be the betting favorite at the 2019 Masters now. But, to me at least, his win marks the completion of the greatest comeback story in all of sports. And not only that, the conclusion to an important life lesson — don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

No athlete has been written off more than Tiger Woods, especially in the era of social media that gives every critic in the world a microphone. No athlete has reached a higher high, and a relatively lower low than Tiger Woods. He went through it all — a broken marriage, public shaming, legal issues, a deteriorated skill set, surgeries, injuries, and arguably most impactful of all, humanization.

Tiger Woods came back from not just a 28-3 deficit on the scoreboard (Patriots-Falcons reference), and he didn’t score eight points in 9 seconds (Reggie Miller reference, sorry Knicks fans and sorry Dad), and he didn’t get hit by a bus (Ben Hogan), but he got hit hard by the bus of life, and he now stands tall in the winner’s circle.

Maybe that’s why sports teaches us so much about life; because sports is life. Not in the way that nothing else matters except sports, but in the way that sports is played by imperfect humans. When the ball goes in the air, or onto to the tee, or the starting bell rings, nothing is certain and nothing is given. And when things are looking bad, like really really bad, it’s how you respond that truly matters. Isn’t that what life is?

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Courses

Ari’s Course Reviews: Sand Hills Golf Club in Nebraska

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There are so many fantastic golf courses throughout the world, and it’s all of the incredibly varied fields of play that make the game so great to me. The most random places in the world can be home to some of the best golf courses. When deciding which course to write about next, it seemed natural to write about my personal favorite course in the world., which happens to be in a very unexpected place.

If you told me I could go anywhere in the world for a round of golf tomorrow, I would be blazing a trail to the area just south of Mullen, Nebraska and playing Sand Hills Golf Club. Sand Hills opened for play on June 23, 1995 and is one of the most natural golf courses you can find anywhere in the world. There was very little dirt moved and most of the money spent building the course was spent on installing irrigation. The course is built entirely on sand, and was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Bill Coore speaks on the design here.

For a bit more background, here’s an old CBS Sunday Morning segment on Sand Hills…

The course lies in the middle of the Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which makes up about one-third of the state. The area has huge, natural dunes everywhere that are much more reminiscent of Scotland or Ireland than the flat part of Nebraska along I-80 that most people associate with the state. Because of the firm, mostly fescue, sand-based fairways at Sand Hills, and the ever-present wind, the course plays like a links course though the bent grass greens rival any top country club for speed and purity. In fact, the fastest greens I have ever seen in person were at Sand Hills in late September.

The course has a tasteful amount of variety and challenge. The three par 5s are of the best sets in the world and include 1) a fantastic mid-length par 5 starting hole that is one of the best starting holes in golf, 2) a very reachable but exacting hole in the 14th, and 3) in my opinion, the best long par 5 in golf, the 613 yard 16th.

The par 4s vary from the long uphill 485-yard monster 18th, to the 7th, which at less than 300 yards still sees a lot more 5s and 6s than 3s. The par 3s are masterful starting with the 3rd playing a little over 200 yards downhill to a sprawling side hill green where you can hit driver one day and 7 iron the next. The 6th is 185 yards slightly downhill to maybe my favorite green on the course with definitely my favorite hole location in the front left of the green to a semi-blind spot in a little bowl.  The 13th is a 215-yard uphill monster that can be the hardest hole in relation to par on the course. Lastly the 17th is a 150-yard work of art to a little triangle shaped green and is definitely in the discussion for best short par 3 in the world.

Aside from a great variety in distance of the holes, the topography also presents an amazing amount of variety on the ground. Due to the random nature of the bounce of the ball, the undulating and random fairway contours, and the wind that can blow in literally any direction, the course never plays the same twice. There are just so many great holes out there that I really wouldn’t argue with any of the 18 holes being someone’s favorite. Personally, I can’t name a favorite as it seems to change every time I think about it. The routing is fantastic with both 9s returning to Ben’s Porch, which serves as the home base for the course where people eat lunch, have a post-round drink and generally enjoy one of the best views in all of golf. The course has a good amount of elevation change but is a dream to walk with very short green to tee transitions. It simply is as close to perfect as you can get in my mind.

While the focus of my reviews are on the golf course and not the amenities, I would be remiss if I did not mention the down-to-earth, welcoming people that make up the staff at Sand Hills. Any time I’ve been lucky enough to be at the club I have felt more like I was visiting family and friends than a golf club. When you combine the welcoming and friendly atmosphere of the club, some of the best food in the world and my personal favorite golf course to play anywhere in the world, you have an experience so special its hard to put into words.

Enjoy the collection of photos below from Dan Moore, and make sure to check out my other reviews in the links at the bottom of the page!

Hole No. 1

Hole No. 2

Hole No. 4

Hole No. 8

Hole No. 9

Hole No. 13

Hole No. 14

Hole No. 16

Hole No. 18

Ari’s Other Course Reviews

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