ATLANTA — Last week was one for the books for Tiger Woods. He became a dad when wife, Elin, gave birth to their first child, daughter Sam Alexis; he placed second, tying with Jim Furyk, in a close finish behind winner Angel Cabrera at the U.S. Open on Father’s Day; and he started a fashion buzz by wearing a Nike Golf slim-fitting, mock turtleneck—red, of course—on the final day of the Open.
In a world where professional golfers wear the traditional, polo-style, collared golf shirt, Woods stood out. However, he’s not the first to wear a mock turtle at a major tournament. He wears them occasionally, including the Sunday he won the 2005 Masters. According to Andy Pazder, senior vice-president, tournament administration, PGA Tour, David Duval was the first player six or seven years ago to wear a short-sleeved mock turtleneck top. “We thought it looked very professional,” Pazder said.
He added that PGA Tour has had a dress code that collarless golf shirts are not acceptable but added that the organization looks on the mock as a type of collar. The current dress code is that attire worn by players must conform to currently accepted golf fashion, Pazder said. “One has to meet our subjective review as to whether it looks professional. We have this loosely defined regulation on purpose to allow for golf apparel trends.” Shorts, T-shirts and jeans are not acceptable.
Doug Reed, global director of apparel for Nike Golf, said the company has gotten a lot of feedback on the shirt, which he described as a short-sleeved, seamless mock with a jacquard ironstone pattern in a polyester/nylon fabric with spandex. The sleeves are about an inch shorter than the typical golf shirt, which helps show off Woods’ well-toned biceps. Reed said the shirt is at retail with the regular sleeves for $70.
Reed added that Nike, which alerts its retail partners to what Woods will wear at a tournament, typically does well with Woods’ scripted product worn at the majors. “I would guess that we’ll sell out of this shirt,” he said. “[Woods] draws a lot of attention and a lot of drama down to the last hole.” Plus, he added, “he’s a great human hanger.”
He said the shirt also is lightweight and has some wicking capability, which was helpful in the hot, sticky weather at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa.
“The older he’s gotten, and the more athletic and fit, he wants product that’s athletic and fit for him,” said Reed. “He found, when he went to a slimmer product, he didn’t have all that bunchy fabric getting in the way.”
Desane Blaney, executive director, Association of Golf Merchandisers, said younger players embrace these more-form-fitting shirts, and the golf shops are carrying apparel especially for them. “You’ll see the younger players having more of an edge to their apparel than the traditional polo style,” she said. “You’ll see more and more of that for the guys who are in excellent shape.”