A dash of the past for U.S. Ryder Cup team

January 4, 2010

The uniforms for the U.S. Ryder Cup team this year are nothing if not classic. In fact, one of the outfits, for Saturday, is right out of the pages of Esquire from the 1930s, almost literally: The combination of cardigan sweater, dress shirt, and dark striped flannel trousers is oddly reminiscent of the marvelous old Laurence Fellows painting (published May 1937) of a golfer strolling in the rain — right down to the open top and bottom buttons on the sweater. The only things missing are a necktie and a cigarette dangling from the fingers.

Tom Lehman and Davis Love III will look just about right. But we are not sure how well these clothes work on, say, a Dustin Johnson. Preppy crests and soul patches are not a natural match. It will also be interesting to see how shaggy-haired Ricky Fowler, a motocross enthusiast when he is not on the links, looks in a purple Perry Como cardigan and dark pinstripe trousers. These clothes are a bit fuddy-duddy for him.

The Team USA uniforms come from the specialist golf apparel firm of Peter Millar, which has succeeded in coming up with styles that are authentically golf without being dull. The practice clothes (to be worn Sept. 28-30) include horizontal-stripe shirts, sweaters with windowpane argyles — that is, an argyle or diamond pattern outlined in a knit fabric — and dressy-looking wool trousers in cream, tan, and olive. The competition uniforms (to be worn Oct. 1-3) all include sweaters with an embroidered red crest on the chest.

So the Americans will be going a little upper class for their matches in Celtic Manor in Wales, where they will need a bit of good fortune to lord it over their European rivals. Certainly there are no fashion disasters here on the scale of the “pepperoni” shirt of 1999. Given Corey Pavin’s team and captain’s picks — which include many young golfers — Team USA will be superimposing a bit of the past on golf’s current and future stars.