Golf is an experiential sport. Every time you step onto a course or into a club, you are instantly connected with generations of golfers who have come before you. The rituals, the customs, and the clothes all have a rich history that anchors you to all the players that have come before.
A Brief History of Men’s Golf Attire
When talking about golf, it’s hard to overlook the importance and influence that golf dress codes have had on the sport. Golf is a sport rooted in 1500s Scotland, and believe it or not, golf dress codes have a history that goes back just as long. From the 1500s to the 1920s, it remained relatively unchanged. Men were expected to wear full suit jackets or patterned sweaters, starched coolers, soft wool or felt hats, and high patterned socks.
In the 1950s, golf attire for men experienced its first real change with the shedding of suit jackets and sweaters and the introduction of light-weight knitted polos, oxford shoes, shorts, and lightweight trousers all designed to increase comfort and performance on the links.
Today, modern golf attire is all about performance, flexibility, and comfort. Now, despite a new focus on the athletic side of golf, the sport still requires a certain level of formality in what you wear and how you show up to the course. Modern golf apparel may look sleeker and less “stuffy” than the fashions that have come before it, but there is still a critical balance that must take place between function and style.
But how has modern golf attire evolved and why? Well, that answer is a bit more layered.
The Changing Face of Golf
Traditionally, golf has been an older sport. Until the late 90s, golf was a sport that was dominated by people over the age of 40. Starting in the late 90s, golf’s demographics started to shift and golf clubs and public courses were seeing more people picking up clubs that fell within the 18-40 age range. In 2020, almost 40% of golfers were under 40 and the number of rounds of golf played in 2021 was 16.1% higher than those played in 2020.
There’s no question as to the growing popularity of golf. However, the root cause of this shift has been heavily debated. Some people credit the rising popularity of younger and more diverse golfers (Tiger, Webb, Rory), while others point to a rise in the number of public and free golf courses popping up nationwide. Whatever the reason, there is one thing that is indisputable, golf club locker rooms look a whole lot different today than they did even 20 years ago.
While many people within the golf world welcome this demographic shift, with younger golfers comes new traditions and a changing culture that can be unsettling for older players. For example, club etiquette has experienced an evolution in the past 20 years. On the course, handshakes once reigned supreme and there was a level of formality that was adhered to on the greens and in the clubhouse. As players from different age groups, geographies, and backgrounds enter the game, things have become slightly less formal and the range of topics that are acceptable on the links has grown significantly.
New Golf Attire for a Newer Demographic of Golf
Golf course etiquette is not the only thing that has changed with the growing number of young golfers entering courses around the country. Younger generations, both X and Z, tend to view their relationship to clothes differently than baby boomers and the generations that preceded them. Younger golfers are looking for modern golf attire that looks and acts like the clothes they wear in their everyday lives.
Just as younger players are bringing new rules onto the course with them, they’re also changing the way that people dress and act inside golf clubs and locker rooms. Traditionally club members wore starched slacks and pressed polos, both on the course and off, however younger players are experimenting with new looks that have forced even the most traditional players to rethink their approach to modern golf attire.
Walk into any golf club today and you’re almost guaranteed to see someone in a hoodie with unpressed shorts and untucked polos. Younger golfers are bringing their own style to the game and breathing life into the stale golf attire for men of the past. Old and stuffy is out; modern and versatile is in. This trend is not isolated to the links and clubhouse, it’s gone viral.
Modern golfers are blending the line between fashion and sport, bringing performance, style, and comfort to a game that’s now over 5,000 years old. Men’s magazines (like GQ and Vogue) are doing full spreads on golf looks and even the largest chain sports stores are featuring entire aisles dedicated to younger golfers looking for more innovative equipment and modern golf apparel.
Golf Dress Codes: The Upgrade We’ve Been Waiting For
Of course, younger golfers get much of the credit for the shifting shape of modern golf apparel, but we would be remiss to omit the influence of COVID-19 on current golf dress code trends and fashions. COVID-19 forced us all to slow down and rethink our relationship with a whole host of things: home, work, and even clothes. Whereas people traditionally placed firm boxes around their clothing (work, home, gym), work-from-home mandates led many of us to start experimenting with clothes that could transcend easily from virtual client meetings to socially distant golf and basketball games and right into couch-based Netflix marathons. Golf was not immune to this evolving view of what clothes should and could be.
People started to realize that golf polos could be more than solely “golf shirts”, but, if designed right, they could also be “office polos”, “date night polos”, and “brunch polos”. Men started looking for unpressed golf pants that felt like athletic clothes but looked good enough to go straight from 18-holes to 8 hours of business meetings.
Swet Tailor: Not Your Average Brand
At Swet Tailor, we are not into labels. We make clothes that look good, feel good, perform well, and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Our modern golf apparel is designed to perform on the course, but they’re made to seamlessly transition from your golf game to your work game, and from the office to happy hour drinks or date night sushi. Our polos invite you to untuck that shirt and rethink what a golf polo could and should be. Our clothes move with you, sweat with you, and give you the breathability, comfort, and stretch you need to play your best and then live your life.
Our golf collection looks good and refined but when you wear our clothes you feel like you’re putting on shirts, pants, and hoodies that were designed with your life and your comfort in mind. We’re relaxed but never sloppy and casual in all the right ways.
We create modern golf attire for modern golfers. Sweat more, change less.