Picture yourself in the early 1500s standing along the green moors of Scotland with a golf ball at your feet. You hold a sturdy wooden club in your hands and pull your tweed jacket tighter as a strong gale blows up from the sea. As you swing, the ball soars and you lift the cap on your head for a better view.

Golf as we know it today originated on those damp moors in Scotland where the cool climate determined what clothes players would wear. Forever considered a gentleman’s sport, the game has changed much since its conception and so has its traditional attire. Here is a brief look into the history of men’s golf fashion.

1500s

men playing golf by sea
Men playing golf by sea

Golf was originally banned in Scotland because men were supposed to focus on military training and not leisure. It wasn’t until James IV became a fan of the sport that the ban was lifted. 1500s golf fashion of men incorporated heavy tweed to protect from the chilly weather. These early choices laid the groundwork for the emphasis on style and functionality that characterizes golf fashion today. Clothing items included:

  • Tweed Caps
  • Tweed Jackets
  • Starched Collars
  • Knickerbockers
  • Sturdy Shoes

1920s

four men in golf caps and knickers
Professional golfers Geo Duncan, Alex Herd, Tom Ball, Harry Vardon

The booming American economy resulted in the glamour of the Roaring Twenties. Having gained popularity among wealthy circles, golf attire, reminiscent of the stylish 1920s golf fashion, was elevated to a more formal look.

  • Flat Caps
  • Neck Ties
  • Single-breasted Jackets
  • Plus Fours (baggier knickers)
  • Long Stockings
  • Spectator Shoes

1950s

two men in golf shirts circa 1950
21st Annual Central States Golf Championship Tournament Denver, CO

1950s golf fashion, it was no longer customary for men to be seen in formal gray suits as they opted to dress for comfort. Colored fabrics came into prominence and the first knitted golf shirt was introduced.

  • Knitted Golf Shirts
  • Light Weight Colorful Trousers
  • Shorts
  • Oxford Shoes

1970s

Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Marvin Newman on golf course in 1970
Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Marvin Newman on golf course in 1970

If there was ever a most radical shift in golf attire, it was due to the groovy style of the 1970s. Colors like purple, magenta, and kelly green were woven into houndstooth patterns on pants and shirts, epitomizing the flamboyant spirit of 1970s golf fashion. With the increase of television broadcast, professional golfers greatly influenced the looks of American viewers.

  • Mock Turtlenecks
  • Golf Shirts
  • Houndstooth Shirt/Trousers
  • Brown Polyester Pants

1990s

tiger woods with nike shirt, hat, and golf club
Tiger Woods

The 90s golf attire focus was on performance enhancing materials that offered better moisture management, breathability and comfort. Golf attire became more subdued in color compared to the 70s, with a renewed focus on sophistication and a professional look. Polo shirts, chinos and softer more flexible shoes that still provided support and grip became staples of 1990s golf fashion. Designers like Levi’s, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger influenced the public by incorporating logos on athletic wear. Modernized knickers made an appearance along with Scottish inspired plaid patterns.

  • Visors
  • Polos
  • Tartan Sweaters
  • Knickers
  • Long Shorts

Present Day

three men wearing visors and fitted golf shirts
Three men in modern golf attire

Technology has brought a new approach to present day golf fashion. Clothes that enable mobility, ventilation, and practicality are manufactured to help players perform their best and stay cool on the course. Men’s golf fashion today blends various styles accumulated from over the years.

  • Visors
  • Polos
  • Cotton, Polyester, and Spandex Blends
  • Ventilated Pants
  • Zippered Pockets
  • Flexible Shoes

Golf has come a long way since those first initial swings in Scotland. It is a game with a rich history in fashion and tradition that has lasted for five centuries. When you picture golf today, it’s extraordinary to still see traces left behind by the forefathers that stood and swung their clubs on those chilly moors so long ago.

Evolution of Men’s Golf Attire!

Men’s golf fashion has traveled a long and colorful road from its tweed covered beginnings to today’s high tech apparel. Each era from the 70s to the 90s and beyond, has contributed to the rich tapestry of styles and preferences on golf courses worldwide. For those looking to dive deeper into the art of golf attire and learn how to master the perfect look exploring how to color coordinate your clothes can provide valuable insights into creating stylish and functional outfits. As the game continues to evolve so will the fashion maintaining a vibrant connection between the sport and its cultural expression.

For more insights into fashion, lifestyle, and how they intersect with sports, the Grey Journal offers a wealth of articles and resources to explore.