Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Naked Golfer




(Photos the sole property of Getty Images, all rights reserved)

Is unsigned the new signed? Many top-flight players are opting not to sign a clothing deal these days. Two of the biggest stars in the world, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, are deal-less - probably a luxury, as they are hauling in enough cash to turn away offers. Adam Scott - still a top-40 player and probably one of the dream 'clothes hangers' for many designers and stylists - has been without a deal since he and Burberry parted ways. Rumors have swirled about everyone from Ashworth to Polo trying to nab the Aussie. Then there is red-hot Ryan Moore - the posterboy for label-less golf...

Are players tired of being told what to wear? Have today's lucrative equipment, ball and shoe deals - combined, of course, with increased perks and purses - negated the need for a clothing contract? I have to admit, it's nice to not see so many logos on players... Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood (top) and Camilo Villegas look like swinging stockcars with their credit card, watch and coffee logos... I guess, after all, a clothing sponsor is just another sponsor...
Regardless of the reason - there are unsigned, powerhouse players out there that potential advertisers/apparel companies could build an entire brand around. This golfer certainly wonders why these guys haven't been landed and what it might take to do just that... The best players in the world have the choice whether or not to just wear anyone who will throw them a decent chunk of change, but you'd think Marketing Directors from apparel houses would be all over these guys... Phil? Rory? I mean, I'd be folding these guys' underwear and lying to their mothers to land them... Adam Scott?? A no-brainer if his play improves... Hell, even if it doesn't...

With all the usual offseason reshuffling going on - Geoff Ogilvy, Nick Watney, etc. etc. - one must surely wonder what it takes to land the big one these days... I think more companies should be on top of the collegiate, junior and Nationwide ranks - looking for the next Rickie Fowler, the next Matteo Manassero, the next Webb Simpson - cool, young guys that are going to sell clothes... Maybe that's why the already established players aren't as attractive in a 'value' landscape that sees marketing budgets shrinking by the day... I can talk myself into a circle here, but Rory frickin' McIlroy should have a clothing sponsor - no excuses... The kid has cash cow written on his forehead and underlined, twice.

I guess, knowing what I know - that on the design and sales side, companies still get super charged up about signing a new player to their roster that fits the attitude and feel of that particular brand - it's amazing to me that superstars remain without deals, regardless of the market. Clearly, top brass still sees a capable golfer and pitchman as a sound investment... And from the athlete's camp, wouldn't finding a proper clothing deal be integral to building that player's image and story into a brand? We live in a visual world and how you look while competing is pretty damn important to a lot of us... Ian Poulter has 1 million Twitter followers and zero PGA Tour wins... Do the math.

-KC

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can tell you that Rory and Lee are from the same management stable. The lack of a clothing sponsor is deliberate, selling the space is more lucrative. For instance, Nike will not allow any other name on their apparel. No competition for the swoosh! Callaway insists on it's club playing pro's to have their emblem displayed on clothing. So you end up with a conflict of interests. Taylor Made staff pro's are encouraged to sport Adidas, a sister company. Add up the value of the many sponsors on McIlroy"s hat, collar, chest etc. Clothing is just a blank canvas on which to make money! Style dare I mention it, doesn't get a look in.

Anonymous said...

Touring professionals are walking adverts. Half of them would not wear a cap but for advertising. I bet poor old Henrik Stenson received a box full of Hugo Boss underwear and a telling off, after exposing his Bjorn Borg briefs after playing a shot out of water last season.
What I would like to see, is a Pro sponsored by a clothing brand. One who stipulated that no other names were to appear on it's clothing, and enough courage to leave it's own off. Now that's style Mr Bond!

Anonymous said...

The complete lack of corporate visibility is what makes events like The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup a joy to watch. There was a time teams would wear the same shoes and gloves as well. Sadly as time goes on, these events too will just blend into the banner wearing festivals golf has turned into. Just look at some images of days gone by. The harder these guys today try to be individuals, the less they succeed.

Anonymous said...

In your picture of Adam Scott. Adam wears Hugo Boss polo shirt, trousers by Polo at Ralph Lauren and Footjoy classics. He is holding a Scotty Cameron mid slant putter, and looks class!

The Khaki Crusader said...

Great comments and insight, thanks all... Just trying to provoke a little conversation... To last commenter - it appears yes, Adam wears RLX Green Pants - you can see the rivet detail at the pocket - as far as the Hugo Boss shirt, it does appear that is what he's wearing, but I am not certain... I like seeing what pros would put together given the freedom to do so, don't get me wrong - but as has been said here before, many pros have a long way to go as far as any personal style is concerned... Good point by first commenter about the space on empty clothing being more lucrative than a sponsorship deal itself, but that has not stopped many pros from having clothing deals and sharing space with other sponsors - Camilo comes to mind... In the end, I'm, out to see the best clothing available to consumers on the backs of touring pros. It is a win-win for everyone... Luke Donald is a great example of a pro who is flexible to experimentation and regularly succeeds... KC

Anonymous said...

I tried to load a picture of Rory McIIroy to make my point but I'm not the most the best at doing this. However, this kid looks like Hair from the Hair Bear Bunch...and therefore has no sense of style what so ever! Which is one of the reasons his management have taken the Hotel sponsorship route. Also lets face it its bringing much more money to them and him.
But who would want to dress that kid?

The Khaki Crusader said...

anon- haha. i was having a conversation with someone about this very topic recently... we were thinking you could dress rory in a modern twist on plus-fours - in a very cool way. kind of touch on a bit of a humor, but also have him looking sharp. yes, he's not the most fashonable young guy, but i think given his unorthodox appearance, he does have a certain sense of style. (he and GMac looked good as a pair in a recent team event) plus, he's going to be the best player in the world some day.

Anonymous said...

Plus 4's will never be cool Crusader...don't go there!!

Sorry but being the best golfer in the world has nothing what so ever to do with looking cool!! Look at the current number 1. Not coooooolll at all, he still has pants with pleats on the front!!!!!

Keep up the good work.

The Khaki Crusader said...

completely agree on woods, no question... you could definitely do plus 4's in a cool way! slim 'em out, pair them with a really trim cardigan or something techier to balance it out, maybe a lightweight down vest layered over a polo. might look slightly costumey, but damn, it could be cool on the right person. someone will do them soon... trust me.

Anonymous said...

Gonna wear slacks with pleats and cuffs. Doesn't do any harm with the ladies, ask Woods? On the other hand, pass me those slim cut Lindeberg's!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Plus 4's or 2's belong in the pages of history books, along with The USA's contribution to fashion. All of a paragraph. What you guys know about style you could fit on the back of a postage stamp, with room to spare!

Anonymous said...

Charlie Hoffman, John Daley, Tiger Woods, American style icons all. Leave Rory McIlroy be you guys. Everyone knows Ireland rocks the fashion world. Think Eamon Darcy or John O'Leary.

Ben said...

Scratch Golf signed Ryan Moore recently, and have had the following message on the accesories section of their website recently, "With our recent signing of PGA Tour player Ryan Moore we are completely revamping our Accessories section to reflect Ryan's unique look and style.

Check back soon for new Scratch Golf Bags, new Scratch Hats and new Scratch Shirts."

I doubt that means they are producing their own clothing line, but Moore could have a branded cap.

Diesel said...

No, no, no! There simply is no way to make P4's cool man...no way!

I'm worried about you now.

Anonymous said...

That photo of Scott was from the Oz Open at the end of 2009 and he was definitely wearing Hugo Boss shirts - had the logo on the chest but was the same colour as the shirt - it was an actual off-the-rack retail shirt.

As much as I liked Geoff Ogilvy in Puma all these years, he looked damn classy last week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the confirmation on the Boss polo. A tone on tone logo was used on Adam's shirts recently. Watch the logos double in size should anyone sign him. You can bet they will be in a contrast color too.

Anonymous said...

Still no to the P4's!

A bit harsh on the American contribution to fashion...Levi jeans, invention of the t-shirts!?

long and straight said...

I like the plus fours not for myself or many for that matter but think about this: what these guys need, lack, and have had through history is SWAGGER! look at arnold, player, hogan, even as far back as bobby jones. what do all of these guys have in common. The answer is they coined an iconic style for themselves to differentiate them from every other joe on the course also by doing this ,they were pioneers for several fashion styles that we touch on currently. Imagine Rory walking over the bridge at the old course with tailored plus fours in black or something edgy, black tech knit, and depending on the weather sleeveless black cardigan, or functional outerwear piece. he's in the lead and this is the image on the last day of the british. Someone mentioned bond...Rory would transform himself from a goofy irish kid with crazy hair to a man with style and distinction who appreciates the past bust embraces the future. Do you not think that consumers would be calling his apparel sponsor to see how to get his "look"...i do! golf is about swagger and confidence! so to say that plus fours are "history" is not accurate, history is cyclical and styles come and go and we are need of some new trends! trends with class and distinction, not tennis shows and army hats (aka ricky barnes)...in the past twenty years of golf fashion we have seen the horrors of the graphic ashworth golf shirts sported by freddy and others and still sported by mr woody austin, trash bag like fits for knits(thanks fairway and green), basic nascar like advertising on these guys...chest, collar, sleeves, back neck! pleats and lots of them! and now feel like we are making some progress...fits have improved, styles have grown to be more distinctive (thank you camillo, d clarke, luke, and vijay) and people are more experimental...I like rory in fours winning the british! ha

The Khaki Crusader said...

amen to that, long and straight...