WITH A 30 handicap, George Halawa of Los Angeles will concede he’s not the world’s best golfer. Still, he loves the game—so much that last year he launched the Double Bogey Club, a golf-inspired clothing label. So far, he’s released logo bucket hats and caps. In the months to come, he’ll offer clothes like nylon anoraks that are, as he put it, “geared toward a streetwear vibe.” Mr. Halawa’s own golf style reflects a modern, come-as-you-are approach—he often hits the links in a polo shirt and sweatpants.
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Like a number of zesty brands, the Double Bogey Club is twisting golf fashion away from its clichéd tackiness. These labels, including Arizona’s Devereux, Whim Golf in Chicago, Metalwood Studio out of California and Seattle-based Bogey Boys, offer both of-the-moment streetwear and natty throwback gear. Conspicuously color-blocked outerwear and logo hoodies mix comfortably with retro cardigans and pressed slacks that echo the style of midcentury champs like Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Chi-Chi Rodríguez.
At the forefront of this refresh was Malbon Golf, a Los Angeles-based outfit that emerged in 2017, co-founded by Erica and Stephen Malbon. Mr. Malbon, who founded the independent media company Frank151, and his wife noticed that peers such as retired skateboarders and on-the-pulse media types were discovering golf. At the time, Ms. Malbon said, “There really wasn’t any kind of brand speaking to people who were interested in golf, but also loved sneakers or loved fashion or music.” Malbon Golf’s bestselling logo sweatshirt, Champion mesh shorts and rugby-esque pullovers catered to this crowd.
In the years leading up to Malbon’s founding, golf garments had evolved into something slick and athletic. As late as the early ’90s, hefty players in flaccid khakis like John Daly were winning tours. But as link kingpin Tiger Woods and his competitors began bulking up to better their game, the look changed. Mr. Woods began taking the trophies in bicep-hugging mock-neck Nike T-shirts. And by the early 2000s, country club pro shops were stocking moisture-wicking polos and sweat-resistant slacks. For the weekend golfer, the newfound emphasis on athleticism was overkill. “You don’t want to look exactly like a PGA Tour pro when you don’t play like a PGA Tour pro,” said Drew Westphal, 33, a social media consultant and longtime golfer in Milwaukee, Wis.
Mr. Westphal is one of a number of youngish golfers smitten by the modish style of 1960s “old guard” players like Mr. Palmer and Mr. Player. “They would wear a nice cardigan, a long-sleeved button-down shirt and pleated trousers,” said Mr. Westphal. Today, he hits the course in taut Uniqlo polos and dressy trousers. He often complements his get-up with a logo hat from cheeky-upstart golf label Public Drip or a tie-dye T-shirt from Online Ceramics, adopting a thoroughly modern style mishmash.
Even so, many upstart brands fully embody a traddy look. Whim Golf, a Chicago-based brand, sells tapered single-pleated trousers and zip-neck polo shirts in pastel tones. Founders Will Gisel and Colin Heaberg—friends and hobbyist golfers—took inspiration in part from ’60s golfers who shot 18 in “stuff they could wear to a dinner party,” said Mr. Gisel. Whim, with its golf-inspired but not performance-driven clothes, has broken through to the broader fashion industry. It is carried at boutiques like C.H.C.M. in New York and Notre Shop in Chicago. The founders speculate that half their customers don’t golf at all.
The brand that’s perhaps best positioned to transcend the insular golf world and garner mainstream sales is Bogey Boys, founded by the Grammy-winning rapper Macklemore. Born Benjamin Haggerty, he caught the golf bug in 2018 and now golfs as many as four days a week. His course style is madcap enough to give Bill Murray’s “Caddyshack” character a run for his money. He played the 2021 AT&T Every Shot Counts Charity Challenge at Pebble Beach in a tartan jacket-and-trouser combo worn over a leopard sweater vest. In an interview, Macklemore said that his “fashion sense is a little bit more extreme than the average golfer,” and that he dials down the look of his own wardrobe a few notches to create Bogey Boys’ clothing.
To research ideas for the line, Macklemore purchased vintage Golf Digest magazines from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The result: retro-tinged pieces like a pinstriped baby-blue cardigan, emerald-green trousers and a V-necked windbreaker with zip-off sleeves.
The liberal, even fun approach to golf style that brands like Bogey Boys and Whim have taken appeals to golfers like Jacob Suarez, 27, a PGA-certified instructor in Phoenix. Growing up, Mr. Suarez abhorred the khaki-and-polo dress code imposed by many golf clubs. He would rather have teed up in his skate shoes and jeans. He believed conformist dress codes kept players like him—young men who aren’t white—off the course. Today, many courses have relaxed their codes just as nascent brands are expanding into golf fashion. At many clubs, a hoodie is now as course-appropriate as a pressed polo. Mr. Suarez regularly plays in Patagonia fleeces, Dickies trousers and Jordan sneakers. Said Mr. Suarez, “Golf attire is just whatever you wear when you play golf. There shouldn’t be a specific code for it.”
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