Brad Rock: Nationwide brings some flair to Sandy fairways
His shirt is the color of antifreeze, his pants a charcoal plaid. Yet at age 27, Jonas Blixt considers himself "one of the (relative) older guys" in terms of golf fashion.
He likes the colorful stuff, but at the same time admits he's no Rickie Fowler. If you don't know Fowler, he's the guy on the PGA Tour who looks like a large Popsicle.
Here comes the next wave in golf fashion, featuring monochrome outfits in outrageous colors, with the bodacious 22-year-old Fowler at the forefront. Sometimes he'll wear an all-scarlet ensemble, shoes included. Other days, it's a purple hat and shirt with white-and-purple plaid pants, or white pants with pink shoes, hat and shirt. His trademark is an all-orange arrangement.
But what really sets Fowler apart are his over-sized hip-hop hats.
"People are drawn to players that wear bright colors instead of khakis and a white shirt," says Blixt, a Nationwide Tour player.
Drawn to? Or horrified by? You be the judge.
Just remember not to adjust the color on your TV.
Many bright colors will be on display this week at the Nationwide Tour's Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club. Some of them, like Blixt's shirt on Wednesday, could trigger a migraine. He, like Fowler, is sponsored by Puma. But Blixt says he prefers not to wear identically matching pants and shirt — especially if they're neon colors.
Don't expect him to cross over into Fowlertown anytime soon.
"I do think it's tasteless when you do too much," says Blixt, who shot a 3-under-par 68 on Thursday.
"When I get to 50 years old or something like that, I'm not going to wear the bright colors," he continues. "I'll tone it down a little bit. But it serves a purpose when they target a younger crowd that enjoys it."
Golf is among the most contradictory sports. It is steeped in tradition, with its darkly paneled clubhouses and Brooks Brothers clientele. Yet the game has always had its showy side: Payne Stewart's knickers and British driving hat; Chi-Chi Rodriguez's straw fedora and Greg Norman's wide-brimmed cabanas; John Daly's multicolored polka dot or paisley pants. Even Jack Nicklaus, the greatest of 'em all, wore garish plaid pants in the '70s.
Strangest thing about golf is that the players wear clothes that probably shouldn't be allowed in the clubhouse.
Still, fashion happens. The Fowler approach is simultaneously predictable and jarring. Golf has always appealed to peacocks. But Fowler's flat-brimmed ball caps and one-color neon clothes have added an element of street life to the sport.
"I think the game is kind of going that way," says the Nationwide Tour's Aaron Watkins, 29. "I used to wear pink pants, orange pants. No one likes to be out on the range and everybody is wearing a blue shirt with gray slacks out there, so it's just one of the ways to be different."
He continues, "I don't see everyone dressing like (Fowler). It's more of a younger generation thing, kind of showing off. Kind of a way to show off your personality."
Both Blixt and Watkins say some of the strongest fashion statements are driven by sponsors reaching for a younger clientele. But don't plan on seeing, say, Tom Watson with an over-sized hat tugged down over his ears.
Hip-hop lids, Watkins says, are really "kind of a West Coast kind of thing."
Blixt adds that in spite of the attention Fowler has received, not everyone will be dressing that way in the future.
"No," Blixt says, "you won't see it. There's no chance."
Still, you have to wonder if there will come a point when golf fashion goes too far. Blixt notes that there are rules prohibiting jeans, sweats, shorts and tank tops, so styles probably won't ever become disrespectful to golf. Or have they already?
"To me, no," says Blixt. "To other people, maybe. But I don't really see why."
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