The New Look
How Nike and the New Guard of Golf are Giving the Sport A Much Needed Image Rehaul
By Christopher Metler
Images courtesy of Nike
People like to celebrate the different facets of what makes a golfer unique. The way they swing, their takeaway — all these are traits that we glorify. Yet, for the most part, many professional golfers look too much alike: straight-laced, billowing shirts tucked into billowing pants. For a sport as prestigious as golf, it is surprising how little its uniform has evolved over the years.
Fortunately, there is a storm brewing; a new wind that’s sweeping the golf community amongst the sport’s young athletes. These are players who grew up with society’s new all-inclusive culture. They are the ones who prefer to look and feel like who they actually are when they go out on a golf course. Most of the players that you see now, these are kids who grew up watching the X Games. They were influenced by skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing and different types of music. And they want to be able to reflect that when they go to play.
In other words, the next generation is done with the uptight country club vibe. They respect golf but have had enough with many of the traditions that remain in place. At least that’s what Sal Masekela, the American television host (VICE World of Sports, Red Bull Signature Series) and sports commentator who recently emceed Nike’s Modern Look of Golf launch, thinks.
“Nike is a disruptor,” Masekela says. “Nike is a company that when it comes to athletic performance and giving athletes the opportunity to not only express themselves but to be able to perform at the highest level, that is what they do and they do it very well.”
Just look at what Nike has done with running. Five years ago, who was talking about running the way they are now? Living it, breathing it, identifying with it. Well, in five years, you could be talking about Nike’s golf efforts the same way.
In essence, what Nike is doing with the sport is the same thing they’ve always done: they are listening to the voice of the athlete. While likeminded brands often jump the gun and try to dictate emerging trends, Nike instead takes notice of the landscape first, and then aims to fill a void. This is what makes them the juggernaut that they are. It’s the coolness factor that no other name in athletic and lifestyle gear possesses. One that consumers have reliably followed to the tune of a multi-billion dollar dynasty. And as a result, Nike is shifting the paradigm once again.
Consider Nike Golf’s new polo designs. It’s clothing that young golfers like Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Scott Pinckney (all under 30) and more are wearing that have become an expression of their personality. Or take the Flyknit Chukka, a Nike street-style staple making its first appearance in the golf realm. Utilizing a revolutionary manufacturing method, the Flyknit enables designers to micro-engineer every stitch of the Chukka to create a featherweight, formfitting one-piece upper while simultaneously reducing manufacturing waste and materials. The result, like the rest of the line, is a fresh aesthetic to the fairway and a sustainable twist to the sport.
Also worth mentioning is their new blade collar for 2016, which replaces the standard polo collar with something more streamlined. It’s smaller, cleaner and less clumsy. This not only allows for maximum mobility, but modern style too, both on and off the golf course.
Sure, Nike’s new direction is one guaranteed to raise eyebrows. Let’s make it clear: this isn’t your grandfather’s kind of golf gear. But like it or not, the changing of the guard is on. “They’re busting down the door,” Sal Masekela proclaims. “Chukka’s on their feet and it’s going to be fun to watch.”