The Weird, the Awesome and the Shirt: 60 Years of Ryder Cup Fashion

The Athletic

What do we really mean when we talk about Ryder Cup fashion? We love the ugly. Oh yes, we love to have fun with extravagant and elegant designs. We love to joke about Justin Leonard’s famous 1999 putt on the shirt. We live in a world that is not called for stripes, stripes or bright colors.

But what do we really want? We need a sweater. Light, athletic sweater. Adam Scott-Cor. As fall sets in, we want to feel good in the European countryside. We want clothes that look like the 1960s but bring a more polished and modern flair.

Sometimes we find wisdom. We find beautiful dresses that look like a fairytale book jacket that we could never be. But sometimes accidents happen to us. Crimes. A statistical insult that should be hidden from archives.

So ahead of this week’s Ryder Cup in the Italian countryside at Marco Simons, let’s take a look back at Ryder Cup outfits over the years. It was a journey.

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Left: Arnold Palmer and the US team in 1965. Right: Peter Butler and Great Britain’s Lionel Platts at the same Ryder Cup. (Evening Standard, Express/Hulton Archive via Getty Images)


This is a template. But it never changed in the 50s and 60s. V-neck sweater. Tight collars. Great Britain wears many light cream colored sweaters every year. It sounds great, and they haven’t shied away from it. US wears a light polo or dark blue sweater.

But there is one thing that stands out. In the year From 1961 to 1965, America rocked these cute white zip-up jackets. They almost look like NBA warmup jackets. Or maybe a mechanic wears a really nice jacket. Imagine pulling up a bar in this sweet sweet jacket, gently tapping the bar and chanting “the usual” as Pete the bartender swigs a local beer.

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Left: Americans surround captain Jack Burke with the Ryder Cup in 1973. Right: Scotland’s Ryan Barnes during the same cup. (Don Morley/Getty Images)

In 1973

Is this the start of the Ryder Cup? It’s a moment when the 70s seem to have arrived in golf.

This is the first Ryder Cup in which Great Britain is “Great Britain and Ireland” and also the first to have a little European color. Are those orange-brown pants under the blue sweater? and plaid. So much plaid around. The British team had plaid collars on their sweaters. And I’m 90 percent sure the US uniform classification says, “Bring your checked pants. But it wasn’t exactly uniform pants. They are all different. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are in simple gingham, but a different kind of gingham! Lee Trevino has a more fun, creative plaid design. Like long in its plaid, gentlemen.

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American golfer Lee Trevino, at the 1981 Ryder Cup at Walton Heath Golf Course, Surrey. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1981

I believe that all of this era’s clothing is simply something that Lee Trevino wore and the captain decided to distribute it through the team. It is big. It is colorful. And I really want to talk about collars. They are very big. When worn with a V-neck sweater (as usual), the collars are pushed up further to look like those puffy pirate shirts.

But the biggest news in my mind was USA on Sunday wearing a blue V-neck sweater with a baby blue collared shirt. Just pure baby blue on baby blue. At first I thought it was a single collar sweater like our modern quarter-zip, but nope! If you look closely, you can see them separated. The confidence needed to pull that off, well, the US won 18 1/2 to 9 1/2.

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Seve Ballesteros, Sam Torrance and Captain Tony Jacklin in 2011.

In 1985

Britain had expanded to all of continental Europe by this stage, but had not yet conquered it since 1957. But this was the year she broke the competition, and maybe because it was the year she started having fun. Yes, you have your classic cream sweater, but let’s match the bold red pants for a chic look. On another day, it was golden yellow pants with a dark blue sweater with another golden yellow shirt underneath. It might be my favorite look of all.

Also, let’s give an ode to European team style legend Bernhard Langer. It pops off the page at all the ’80s races, and I’m not entirely sure he wears the right thing every day. In the Foursomes he wore a collar, while Kane Brown wore a turtleneck. He may be the only European wearing a white turtleneck under a bright red sweater in Sunday singles. It’s a great look, but it can be tricky.

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USA’s Tom Watson He competed in the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry. (Simon Brutti/Allsport via Getty Images)

In 1989

After some very, very boring American clothing, we’re starting to see a surge of ’90s American designs. We’re not quite there yet, but what in the world are these sweaters? You have straight lines. You have horizontal lines. Elle said, hey, the US is undefeated so it’s a good thing he couldn’t throw it in their face. And it is very deep, past their ribs. Wild things.

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Left: Jose-Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros read an inscription at the 1991 Ryder Cup. Right: Mark Calcavecchia same year. (Stephen Mundy, Simon Brutti/Getty Images)

In 1991

The top of the sweater. around. There are no notes. Just a beautiful performance of both sides that brings art and contrast to the beauty of the sweater dress. A white sweater for Europe? Let’s get Steve Rose’s shirt off the bottom to get it right. A forest green sweater dress? Europe really combines soft blue with plaid pants. Wonderful. And the US were no slouch. He rocked a very simple yet strong red-white-blue look with a red sweater dress, white shirt and dark blue pants. It’s obvious, but it’s done swimmingly.

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European Team Wives and Girlfriends In 1993. (Stephen Muddy/Getty Images)

In 1993

I’m having my editor put up a photo of European women’s sweaters just so you can see them.

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Left: Tiger Woods, Hal Sutton and Payne Stewart after victory in 1999. Right: Davis Love III celebrates a big putt. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

In 1999

The shirt is so famous, but what a rollercoaster for the United States all around. Before we get to the shirt, other days aren’t much better. In general, there are many horizontal stripes and ugly colors. What about a black polo with yellow horizontal double stripes? Nobody looks athletic in this one.

But what you all want to see is the Sunday shirt. In a surprising move, the Red Shirts put up more than half a century’s worth of photos of past American teams. Obviously, Captain Ben Crenshaw took the lead and put a lot of time into making this shirt that honors the past. It’s ironic that one of the most famous moments in Ryder Cup history — Justin Leonard’s 50-foot birdie putt on 17 to bring a big American comeback from 10-6 down — will forever be associated with that shirt. It’s become so famous that one of them sold at an auction in 2018 for $3,906.

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Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell, left to right, at the 2006 Ryder Cup. (Sven Nakstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

In the early 2000s

I have no complaints against Jim Furyk. He was a very good golfer. By all accounts, he’s a good guy. But Furyk is boring. It’s almost part of his name. His best golf was synonymous with somewhat boring golf. So it’s only fitting that every look at the 2002 and 2004 Ryder Cups opens with a photo of Furyk in a really boring outfit. In the year In 2002 you will see some dark blue sweater jackets with dark, boring red shirts. No energy. In the year In 2004, it is a blue sweater with a completely empty and empty blue shirt. It’s all baggy and unflattering 2000s style. In the year The early 2000s may have been the worst era of writing in American history, but the 2006 picture of an all-brown America somehow comes out on top. What are we doing here guys?

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Lee Westwood, center, walks the green at the 2010 Ryder Cup, left, and Tiger Woods, right. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)


This year is a remarkable departure in the beauty of the 21st century Ryder Cup. If these things have given us dull and boring and the past 10 years have given us something solid, 2010 is an exciting time stuck in the middle. I’m not sure if they all work properly, but they’re all fun and lively.

Yes, that’s a lavender cardigan vest for America. Yes, that’s an all-black argyle European suit. I even approve of the US tan sweater with a light blue shirt. And I’m here for a royal blue Sunday sweater for Europe.

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Rory McIlroy, left, and Patrick Reed at the 2016 Ryder Cup. (Andrew Reddington/Getty Images)

2012 and above

At this point, both teams entered a new template. The European team has basically adopted the EU color scheme and everything revolves around that royal blue and white with yellow accents. And it works.

Meanwhile, the U.S. team started dressing in Ralph Lauren, and suddenly everything looked like this timeless regular-core look. I personally don’t like it, but Ralph Lauren has done it well, so I’ll admit it. Everything is based on a red, white and blue look with dark blue bases and red accents. Polos always include lots of funky bans or unusual stripes. It doesn’t look bad at all. It also doesn’t look very natural. Logo USA is always trying to modernize like an expansion team created in a video game, but it’s good. We can’t see another 1999, but we won’t get some of those 80s cute looks.

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Jimmy Walker, left, and Rickie Fuller wear the most patriotic sweaters in 2014. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

2014 flag sweater

I want you all to tell me what you think, so I’ll end with this. In the year Is this a great, simple use of minimalism? Or is it stupid? I need all your thoughts because my gut says it’s bad.

(Image: Eamon Dalton / Getty Images; Photos: Andy Lyons / Getty Images, Rusty Jarrett, Simon Bruti / Allsport via Getty Images, Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images)