March 2008


You cannot buy class...

As a child, one of the things that I always thought made golf different from other sports was that regardless of where it was being played, i.e., a private club or a public course, the players always dressed well and except for tennis (at that time) and perhaps cricket, no other sport could really make that claim.

Organised baseball required a uniform of sorts, but kids just playing in the park wore jeans. Same goes for basketball and football. Tennis used to require players to wear "whites" even at the public courts and golf required players to dress as ladies and gentlemen.

In those days, a club was a place "to see and be seen", so nobody ever wanted to be caught dead looking less than perfect. The ladies would even fly down to Florida during the wintertime for some cosmetic surgery and a jump start on their summer tan, just to show off by the pool back at the club.

Men wore jackets in the dining room, hats were never worn inside the clubhouse and everyone knew the rules. Woe to those who forgot them because nothing can make you feel smaller than getting berated in front of your peers by the Club Secretary.

"Perhaps it is correct behaviour to wear your hat at a construction site, but at this club gentlemen are expected to remove their head coverings when entering...unless of course you would like to help the crew mortar the retaining wall by the pool...Good day to you sir."

In the late 60ís, slacks and sports shirts were kind of plain and usually made of cotton. Cardigan sweaters were the norm and Argyle socks was considered making a statement back then.

With the advent of polyester and the mindset of the 70ís, this allowed players to more resemble peacocks, or as comedian Robin Williams liked to quip: "allowed white men to dress like dancers on a 1970ís re-run of Soul Train."

Imagine middle-aged men wearing bright orange or hot pink slacks with canary yellow shirts, or other impossible combinations and youíd see the relevance of the joke.

There is a very old saying that "clothes make the man" and to some extent it is true, especially from a psychological point of view. Looking good makes you feel more confident.

I think that almost every man on the planet has looked at himself in the mirror while wearing a tuxedo and quietly whispered, "Bond. James Bond."

Unfortunately, if you look at golfers today, many look like they got dressed in the dark or obtained their wardrobe from the Salvation Army. Manners and refinement seem have gone out the window for the most part as well.

If you donít believe me, just see how many players have bare feet in the restaurant of the club next time. Better to wait until its warmer...

In my opinion, the two best dressed golfers in Vietnam are probably Japanese Ambassador Hattori and Ms. Michelle Chang.

On the golf course or off, the ambassador always looks like he just stepped off the pages of a gentlemanís fashion magazine. For some reason, whenever I see the ambassador, I think of Seve Ballesteros. On the ladies side, Michelle Chang is colour-coordinated from her hat all the way down to her golf balls.

The last person to do that was PGA Tour legend, Doug Sanders, in the Ď70ís naturally.

Many players in Vietnam will claim that the weather restricts what they can wear, so most opt for shorts, but the truth is that with all the new materials available to the apparel manufacturers, there is no excuse for players to not dress well.

If nothing else, a good start would be to at least learn to be colour-coordinated.

One of phenomena unique to Asia is the habit of wearing black trousers, black shoes and white socks...which, unless youíre Michael Jackson, is a fashion disaster and wearing shorts with black socks makes you look like John Cleese.

There are certain basic rules to dressing well and the most basic is shoes and belt match. Also, if youíre gonna wear dark colour pants, wear socks that match either your trousers or shoes.

If you sweat a lot, remember that dark shirts donít show it as much.

Some of the better shirts Iíve seen lately came from Korea and can be found in golf shops, such as Da Dul in both Hanoi and HCMC. Of course, you can always play it safe with Ashworth, Polo or Cutter & Buck.

On the local scene, AB Promotions puts forward a great line of golf clothing at a reasonable price which can be found in most clubís pro shops.

Asia is known for great tailors and reasonable prices, so there is really no excuse not to look good.

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