If you’re a newbie golfer, figuring out what to wear for your first spin on the course can be stressful. Unlike other sports, you can’t just throw on your favorite athletic tee and go-to trainers due to strict dress codes and raised eyebrows from the country club members. Maybe this is why golf has so many stuffy, not-so-friendly stereotypes associated with it when it comes to style.
You know the archetype dude rocking a billowy-style shirt with a sloppy roll-style collar and ridiculously baggy slacks that even Shooter McGavin would despise. But there is good news for golf, as the sport may very well be on its way to shedding that unfortunate cliché (finally!) thanks to the arrival of a new wave of golf apparel that’s rooted in equal parts performance and streetwear.
All it takes is a quick scroll on IG for proof that not all golfers look like crazy suburban dad’s all the time. A new generation of golfers are stepping up their style by infusing the influence of streetwear and style for a fresh and more casual take on this overly traditional (read: dated) pastime. To explore this shift we recently profiled two influencer-level style personalities in Angel Ramos and Marcus Troy. Next, we tap Los Angeles-based sneaker expert and avid golfer Jacques Slade to give us the lowdown on what athletes on the best coast are actually wearing when hitting the links.
If you’re into sneakers at all, you’ve probably heard Slade, aka Kustoo, sound off on all the latest releases. So who better to ask about what shoes (among other things) to wear on the course? Read along as we discuss how Slade’s extensive sneaker knowledge fuses with his practical sense of style for an easy-to-wear, dope-looking golf ‘fit that extends beyond 18 holes.
We already know you’re into golf, but how did you first get into the sport?
One of my buddies plays regularly and brought me along after weeks of asking us to play. The first time I played I was legitimately hooked, so for the last five years we’ve been playing two-to-three times a month.
What is your biggest advice for first-timer golfers?
Just have fun and don’t stress about it too much the first time you go. At some point you’ll hit an amazing shot without knowing what you’re doing and that will be it for you. People don’t realize how complicated golf is, but you can hit a ball and it’ll go 200-300 yards and after that you’ll be hooked. A lot of people think that, because they play basketball or baseball, they can play golf, but that’s not the case because this is a sport where it’s all on you. You don’t have teammates to blame if something doesn’t go your way like in other sports.
Let’s talk style. What do you wear when you play?
My golf style is definitely inspired by basketball. My usual outfit is a pair of retros with a Nike t-shirt and sometimes a pair of compression pants. It’s really just stuff that I feel comfortable in. I rarely wear a polo because I think most of them have a stodgy look, so I’ll wear a crewneck instead. The neck on the Fly Blade polo is more like a crewneck because it doesn’t have that floppy collar. I never want to look like the overweight guy with the big collar and the cigar—I don’t want to be that guy when I play. This collar is a little thinner so it feels more like a tee.
How does technology fit into your golf look?
Wearing compression pants is my core look. I try to walk the course whenever I can, so I’m not being lazy by riding around in the cart. Compression pants help with a lot of things technically, like blood flow, but they also keep me warm when I play in the morning. For the same reason I’ll wear a compression shirt underneath as well.
As far as sneakers go, I like to wear the Nike Free outsole. The traditional golf outsole is so rigid and there’s not movement in the shoe, so I prefer a shoe with a more articulated outsole that allows your foot to actually move. When you’re as bad as I am at golf (I don’t always have a perfect line) the outsole can help me grip the side of a hill or wherever the ball takes me.
Speaking of shoes, does the look matter to you?
I like the golf shoes that look more like sneakers than dress shoes. The new Flyknit Chukka’s are dope—there’s really no other way to describe those. They just look so much better than the traditional golf shoe.
Every time I go to Nike’s Innovation Summits, I tell them how much I love the technology and the level of innovation, but I always ask about the clothes. I want something a little cooler for when I play golf. I love the idea of wearing the Flyknit Chukkas with the Blade polo and a pair of joggers—I would be set. That’s my goal for my personal golf style: to wear something that looks clean and dope but doesn’t make me look like I came from the clubhouse.
Do you think that’s because the sport has such strong traditional roots?
100 percent. You get a certain kind of look because there’s supposed to be a certain way to act and dress when you play golf.
Are there any golfers out there today with a sense of style you admire?
Not really, because it’s totally different now. I’m a sneaker guy so I dress in what goes along with that culture, which looks a lot younger than the traditional golf crowd. I think my audience doesn’t want to dress how traditional golfers dress. Some of these new guys [professional athletes] come from more of an action sports background, like that renegade, skateboard-influenced style that’s so popular now. It’s all about great materials and quality fabrics, but it still looks dope.
Not to drop names but I talked to Eric Koston about this last year by mentioning I wanted golf style to be a little cooler and he was actually the opposite. He said he liked dressing up with the nice pants and traditional collars, which is totally opposite of what you’d expect from a skateboarder. But again, he wears the skater look everyday so for him it’s a change, so it really depends on the golfer.
Don’t you think some of the action sports-inspired guys go a little overboard too though?
I mean, it obviously can be overdone, but I like to see athletes pushing the look of a sport in a different direction. At least they’re pushing the envelope, style-wise. Nike is more streetwear than action sports and I think the ideal place is somewhere between those two categories
Any golf trends we should avoid?
Not really—other than the guy with the top three buttons open and the hairy chest out.
What about trends you’re excited to see develop?
I really like what Nike is doing with their apparel selections; I think that’s really pushing the envelope when it comes to the off-course look. When I wear their crewnecks, I get a lot of compliments, which speaks volumes because you can’t really tell it’s a golf-specific shirt unless you look really close at the label. That’s exciting to see.
You’re based in L.A. Do you think that West Coast golfers dress the best?
I think so because we can play year-round. I play on municipal courses, which is where everyone can go to play. I think that adds to it too—we don’t really have to adhere to any dress codes either.
What would you tell a first-time golfer to wear?
I would say the outfit I usually wear, which is a pair of Nike Frees or Air Max that have a little traction but still allow you to move, with basketball shorts and a t-shirt. Obviously a DriFit tee would be best if you’re going to sweat a bit, but as long as it’s a shirt you think is cool you’ll be fine. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Jacques wears the Nike MM Fly Blade Polo, MM Fly Roll Polo, TW Adaptive Fit Pant, Flyknit Chukka, and True Tour Hat. Shop his entire look at nike.com/golf.