It’s all too often that golfers and their, um, interesting sense of style is more entertainment than aspirational. Before Matt Damon was tough AF in The Martian, he paved the way for the worst golf outfits of all time in The Legend of Bagger Vance. Back in the day, we could blame the argyle sweater vests, tweed suits, newsboy caps, and cringe-worthy man-lottes (read: sad man culottes) on the fact that they didn’t have Dri-Fit or legal brew, but today there’s no excuse. However, the bad style continues; just turn on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm and you’ll see Larry hitting the links with his golf-dad buddies in ‘fits so oversized and dated it makes the whole thing that much more comical.
On the flip side, casual golfers can take solace in knowing that we’ve entered somewhat of a new era in golf apparel—one that puts just as much emphasis on style as performance. It’s a look that’s less country club and more streetwear—a move that, in theory, will pull in a younger, more hip golf audience. To drive that point home, we recruited a trio of occasional club-swinging streetwear personalities to showcase where the new look of golf is headed.
First up, Angel Ramos, founder of Angel Bespoke, who talked us through his tips on dressing for the golf course without the comedy. The Brooklyn native’s approach to golf style leaves behind the outdated, stuffy vibes that your dad and his pals give off in their laughably short shorts in favor of a more stealth, modern look, so you can go from tee-time to happy hour without skipping a beat.
Angel’s dynamic sense of style proves you can appreciate three-piece suits, luxury timepieces, and a good shoeshine, but still know when to abandon the leather goods in favor of more functional, albeit still stylish, items. It’s time to ditch what you thought was par for the course for modern pieces you can wear all day.
For starters, how do you define your personal style?
I love Neapolitan culture and Savile Row tailoring, but with the edge that comes with growing up in Brooklyn. It’s basically menswear-meets-IDGAF.
Quality is obviously an important factor in menswear. How does this fit into your brand?
I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, so dad would give me $100 to go shopping for back-to-school every year, expecting me to stretch it into a full wardrobe for the year. I would come back with one dope sweater. My dad would ask me what happened and I would tell him that no one else would have that sweater. So, obviously, I value exclusivity and quality. I would rather people tease me for wearing the same sweater every day over having a cheap one.
The same goes for golf. I would see the preppy looks on the golf course and I would think, “You guys look terrible.” They looked 25 pounds heavier in their huge, tucked-in polos so I’d try to look cool but it was always inappropriate for the setting. Like I’d wear a golf shirt un-tucked, but that’s not allowed.
So, I have a rule for when I golf at country clubs: I always buy a pro shop shirt from everywhere I play. I got my favorite one from Kiawah Island in South Carolina. It’s so oversized I look like I weigh 700 pounds when I wear it, and my wife hates it on me because it makes me look like I’m 90.
So what you’re saying is that your handicap would take a hit if you wore all that pro shop merch…
The crazy thing about those [golf shop polos] is that they’re not breathable! They’re made of heavy cotton. The older guys that are actually members of Kiawah Island aren’t wearing Nike or anything cool; they wear wingtips with the crocodiles on them and giant shirts that come down to your forearm.
How did you first get into the sport?
When I moved to Charleston, I had never golfed before, but once I moved there the culture is hard to avoid. There’s a restaurant scene and a golf scene, and that’s it. I guess people bike, but golf was the easiest thing for me to indulge in, so I started going with a few buddies. It was such a culture shock because the quality of life is so high, it’s easy to get hooked. Competitively, I wasn’t good at first, and I’m not great now, but that’s why you keep going back.
Are there any golfers that have a sense of style you admire?
From what I’ve noticed online, golfers in L.A. look the best, style-wise. When our friends from Seattle or L.A. go golfing, they tend to wear slimmer cuts and cool hats. I feel like the East Coast breeds this gentlemanly Bagger Vance-type style, which doesn’t look modern.
What’s your advice for first-timers dressing for the course?
It’s important to have a go-to pant that’s breathable and light. If it doesn’t fit, get it tailored. A good fit is comfortable around the seat and upper thigh, with a tapered leg that hits right above the anklebone, similar to a jogger silhouette. Also, get a cap to shield you from the sun and hybrid golf shoes you can wear all day.
Anything they should avoid?
Golf shirts are always giant with huge armholes because you’d think that would give you a wider range of motion when you swing, but the opposite is true. In traditional tailoring, a jacket is made to fit smaller and closer to your armpit so it actually creates more mobility, and the same is true for the new Blade Collar polo that Nike put out. With the slim fit and this level of technology, you don’t have to worry about lack of mobility or sweat.
OK, so let’s talk style. What’s really important to your look on the course?
In terms of sportswear, versatility is huge. When I lived in Charleston, I would have tee time at 7 a.m. then run home to change so I didn’t look like a dork at work. But if I wore this polo [points to himself], I could wear it all day because I’m crushing it.
Style-wise, I play golf like I played baseball. When I played ball in college, there had to be a dope-ness to your bag and gear. One of the guys that brought swag to the sport was Manny Ramirez, with his dreads and almost-boho style. It’s crazy to think about now, but it looked so dope. I want to channel that disrupter attitude into my golf style. Instead of wearing a traditional menswear shirt, I want to wear something dope that redefines the sport.
How do you see this “disrupter” approach affecting the future of golf?
If golf could redefine the look we see as “golf dad” by celebrating dope-looking dudes that take the sport somewhat seriously, it would inspire a new generation to play in high school or college. Most kids probably don’t want to play because it’s considered a dorky sport. Everyone wants to be a skateboarder because it looks so cool, and I’m sure we could do the same thing for golf. If a young kid sees a guy like I saw Manny Ramirez, it could encourage them to get into golf at an early age.
Angel wears the Nike MM Fly Blade Polo, Range Crew, Range Packable Jacket, Flyknit Chukka, and True Oxford Adjustable Golf Hat. Shop his entire look at Nike.com.