Wall Street Journal: Male Golfers Want Clothes That Won’t Embarrass Them

Then why are they playing golf?

Thank God for weekends. If there weren’t weekends, my house would never get clean. I’d never get to the post office. And I’d never get to catch up with the Wall Street Journal, a.k.a. the paper of record for White People’s Problems. Friday’s Journal brought a shining example in the form of a long story, in the Fashion section, called “Is It Tee Time, or Martini Time?” Because, uh, for the Wall Street Journal, those are the only two choices, I guess?

This sterling piece of journalism, by one Steve Garbarino (which is almost the same as gabardine, eh), relates the sad plight of the modern linksman, who is tired of wearing pink knickers and a green and blue argyle vest and longs for something that can transition easily from the course to the street, because on the street, you can’t wear pink knickers and a green and blue argyle vest without coming in for your share of derision. Mr. Garbarino interviews a number of golfers as well as designers of contemporary golfwear (I’m not sure that’s a word, but it should be), and the general consensus is that guys today want stuff that looks less “clowny,” as one brand director notes. (At least the pendulum isn’t swinging the other way.)  Especially hot is a “retro” look that harks back to the golden era when country clubs were segregated and didn’t admit Jews or women and the king of golf fashion was, as the piece puts it, Arnold Palmer, “putting with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.” Because nothing says athleticism quite like that.

As it happens, men who golf are willing to shell out quite a lot for this retro look, which includes footwear from a British company that lovingly hand-crafts “wildly colored” shoes, with or without cleats, that sell for $500 a pair. The company is called Royal Albartross. This is a very good name for a firm whose shoes will hang around your neck like a stone after you pay $500 for them. My favorite style is called the “Honest John,” in lime green, white, and multicolored stripes. Be sure and visit Coleridge’s fellow “Albartross Ambassadors” while you’re at the website—and pick up a gold-plated ball marker or two.

But I digress. Three different designers in this Wall Street Journal story say, with straight faces, that their current lines were inspired by Ty Webb, the fictional character played by Chevy Chase in the 1980 film Caddyshack, a deeply terrible movie (the plot hinges on a gopher infestation) that no woman has ever voluntarily watched. And these are the clothes that are less “clowny”?

The aim of all of this is for men to be able to golf while wearing clothes that “won’t embarrass you off the course,” according to Hobson Brown of Criquet Shirts, which makes “1970s-inspired organic cotton polos.” Of course it does. It doesn’t, however, appear able to spell “cricket” correctly. Nor do any of those interviewed reach what seems a self-evident conclusion: If you don’t want to be embarrassed by the clothes you’re playing golf in, just play golf in the clothes you do other stuff in—you know, like shop or go to the movies or mow the lawn. But no; sports don’t count for guys unless they come with special equipment and uniforms, preferably with hidden zippers and secret compartments. Because sports really are just a slightly more civilized version of war.

And speaking of wars, don’t miss the slideshow at the end of the WSJ essay, highlighting particularly asinine outfits worn by famous golf pros down through the ages. Greg Norman’s confused colorblocked sweater! Payne Stewart’s homage to mineshaft canaries! Jack Nicklaus’s imitation of your aunt shopping at Walmart! It’s a marvelous compendium of clothing that’s guaranteed not to make guys attractive to women. Which is fortunate, because that leaves them all the time they need to play the world’s slowest game.