One golfer who played for the high school team I oversee told me, “Coach… as long as I hit it in the fairway, I’ll be OK.” This brilliant analysis could not be more true. Consistency is the key to success. Fairways and greens, as they say. However, the great golfers are not only consistent but also understand risk and reward and when to take chances. They know when going for it will elevate their round to another level. And that mindset has pretty much defined Rickie Fowler—the no. 6 player in the world as the US Open begins this at Oakmont—as a player and golf’s style icon.
Ever since he burst onto the scene, Fowler has been the trendsetter in golf fashion. With his flat brim hats, bright colors and bold patterns, he has seamlessly transitioned streetwear to the golf course. Case in point: Earlier this year, Fowler showed up to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions debuting his new custom cleated high tops and Performance Jogger pants from Puma. Fowler took a major chance with this look, reactions varied, and you have to wonder, where did this idea even come from?
Prior to making a product, Puma meets with all their golfers to listen to and consider their ideas on style and the effect apparel has on performance. “Rickie is into footwear styling and he wanted to bring the high-top look to the golf course,” says Grant Knudson, head of footwear at Puma Golf. The high-top golf shoe look has a direct correlation with the sneaker culture that has exploded of late. People wait in huge lines for new sneaker releases and pay an inordinate amount of money for rare models. The LeBron James Corks, for example, can retail for around $700.
And that’s where the jogger pants come in. Modeled after sweatpants with elastic around the ankles, they ensure your sneakers will be on full display. “Guys buying $400 pairs of shoes didn’t want their pants to cover them,” explains Knudson. “The joggers look is shocking at first but it will eventually become more normal.” It’s hard to imagine that joggers will replace golf pants as a more regular look on the course, but if anyone can pull it off on the golf course, it’s Fowler. “Rickie is at the top of the pyramid,” says Knudson. “We push the limits with him.”
Along with his style, Fowler’s game has also progressed. Coincidence? “My game and my style has continued to evolve during my lifetime,” Fowler says. “I have more control over my ball and greater consistency. Both have increased my confidence day in and day out, and in large part has led to my rise in the world rankings.” This “look good, play good mantra” coincides with Puma’s fusion of comfort and performance. Ultimately though it is Rickie just being Rickie. “I want to be stylish but also need to feel comfortable,” he explains. “I am drawn to brighter clothes, and fashion-forward styles. I am used to wearing boots from my days riding motorcycles, and actually really like the added support they provide. Wearing the joggers is just me being me. I have enjoyed them. A risk? I suppose some may say that, for me it was easy.”
Additionally, the brazen style pallet that Fowler has displayed over the years is part of Puma Golf’s efforts to expand the sport and attract younger players. Along the same lines, the European Tour has put in a policy that allows players to wear shorts in practice rounds and pro-ams. Both Fowler Fowler’s joggers and high tops look and the European Tours policy are a shock to the very traditional sport, but can you take some of the same sartorial chances on the golf course this summer? Fowler believes so “I encourage people to dress in a way that makes them comfortable while still being respectful of the game and what is appropriate for the environment they are in,” he says. “If you like them, I say wear them!”
So, as you’ll see in the pics on this page, I did. Feel free to try them yourself. And remember, as long as you can hit the fairway, you’ll be OK.
Photos by Marcie Stoner