Has color-blocking jumped the shark? We refer to golf shirts with bold contrasting panels of color, typically extending down from the armholes along the sides, which give the golfer, regardless of physical condition, an overt athletic look. Dozens of top golfers have adopted this style in the last year or so, with mixed results.
Among those recently swinging away in color-block shirts: Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Retief Goosen, David Toms, Anthony Kim, and Casey Wittenberg. Boo Weekley, who has his own clothing line reflecting his good-old-boy affection for hunting and fishing, wears color-block style shirts with a difference — a band of camouflage color splashed across his chest.
With his hawkish, ascetic countenance, Furyk seems physically suited to more sedate, traditional golf clothes. Kim, an explosive talent who seems to be a ball of coiled energy, seems to fit well in such graphic clothes. But color-block golf shirts are increasingly prevalent even among golfers who are notably unathletic looking, like Goosen or Toms.
Interestingly, Tiger Woods, perhaps the most athletic golfer of all, doesn’t wear them. Aren’t these styles, which sometimes resemble old American Football League uniforms, going to seem a little tired in a year or so?
A related but somewhat more subtle graphic trend is piping — the use of contrast-color narrow trim, or piping, on a shirt or pullover — as in the clothes worn by Michael Sim, another U.S. Open surprise challenger. Piping has been part of performance fashion for a very long time (and cowboy fashion forever). It’s a lot less in your face than color-blocking.
Ricky Barnes, who put himself on the map with his stunning second-place finish at the U.S. Open, is sticking with his “painter” hat, which he wore again last week at the Travelers Championship. He was not the only one sporting the offbeat shape: Ryan Moore, who is known for wearing a necktie in tournaments (although otherwise dressing down), wore a similar hat, in gray. It would perhaps be better described as a variation on an engineer’s cap or a military cap (the kind worn, in olive drab, by the Castro brothers).
Young golfers, like young men in general, tend to favor caps or offbeat headwear — for example, monastic knit caps in cooler weather and stubby straw porkpies in summer. That seems to explain Barnes and Moore’s headwear in recent tournaments (also note that Moore wore jeans-like pants on one day). The hats have to be different or off kilter in some way in order to be cool.
This column prefers to wear air-cooled visors on the links (sans the Ian Poulterish mousse). But it tips its cap to those brave enough to be different.