Course of Style: Fashion mix at Bethpage Black

Some fans sacrificed fashion for function. Others could have used a good, sturdy pair of Wellington boots.
Simon Bruty/SI (top); Fred Vuich/SI (above)

The slightly soggy crowd at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black was not terribly stylish — what could you expect when the point was mainly staying dry? — but there were some bright spots here and there.

The best-looking styles were not on the golfers but on the long-legged Long Island girls who wore wellies — mid-calf or higher rubber Wellington boots — with short skirts or short-shorts. This eminently sensible footwear, for slogging through the muddy walkways on Bethpage Black, was also very sexy, showing off yards and yards of tanned legs.

Everyone toted umbrellas or rain jackets, but the only ones who consistently wore full rain regalia — ponchos, rain hats, boots, etc. — were the forecaddies and photographers, who had to spend hours at a time on the fairways exposed to the elements. In the intermittent rain, many players opted not to wear their high-tech rain gear, standing instead under golf umbrellas held by their caddies. This seemed to suggest that for all the talk about technical outerwear that doesn’t impede the swing, when the chips are down the pros will not let anything get in the way.

The award for fashion chutzpah goes to a group of Phil Mickelson fans, five young men who roamed the course, each with a letter from the golfer’s first name emblazoned on his chest, so that they spelled out P-H-I-L. The fifth guy had a pink ribbon painted on his chest, in sympathy for Mickelson’s wife, Amy. On Saturday, they all wore faux tuxedos, with pink suspenders and shorts, the letters painted on the front of their shirts.

They seemed a bit tipsy, as did a lot of the young men at the tournament, which led to a great deal of critical commentary by various pundits who seemed desperate to fill some air time during the rain-delayed tournament by criticizing Long Islanders’ boorish behavior. (Something should be said for the entirely orderly and polite manner in which thousands of tired and damp fans endured delays, the choppy pace of play, and the marathon sessions of Saturday and Sunday — and managed to line up, arrive and depart on the shuttle buses with nary an ugly incident. )

Another, more understated group of style pranksters was a gaggle of young dudes wearing glued-on pencil mustaches and dandyish country club clothes. It was hard to figure. Who exactly were they imitating? Chi Chi Rodriguez? Fernando Lamas? They weren’t saying. They just drank a lot and acted cool.

Player Style Points

Ricky Barnes came within a couple of strokes of giving his clothing sponsor, Oakley, an enormous boost. As it was, he came out of nowhere and put his personal stamp on the proceedings: plaid trousers, form-fitting shirts, and a full-crowned white cap, more like a painter’s cap than a golf cap.

You would have thought that his head-to-head duel with the eventual winner, Lucas Glover, would’ve been the main storyline, but you got the feeling that the network was more interested in covering Mickelson, Woods et al — fully expecting Barnes and Glover to fade. They both stumbled, especially Barnes, but the tournament wasn’t decided until those two putted out on the 18th green.

Other noteworthy fashion points: Young California pro John Mallinger wore offbeat trousers on Saturday, kind of like cowboy pants, with a buttoned utility pocket inside the main front pocket and rear-pocket embroidery. Both Miguel Angel Jimenez and Hunter Mahan wore “spectator” shoes — that is, two-tone shoes with dark wingtips and heels (as opposed to the more common saddle shoes, which have the dark portion in the middle). The spectator footwear tended to look like spats from a distance, especially on Jimenez. Mahan’s Monday look, between the red-and-black color-blocking on his shirts and the black-and-white spectator shoes, made him vibrate like an Op-Art poster.