Wild prints, trendy wear are making the Masters the center of the golf fashion universe

Updated Apr. 12, 2024 5:46 p.m. ET

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — At a place where green jackets never go out of style, the sometimes-wild, often-trendy and always-interesting fashion sense of those playing Augusta National has become a viral subplot to the competition at the Masters this week.

At the forefront may have been Jason Day, playing alongside Tiger Woods, who wore some loose-looking slacks from Malbon on Thursday that harkened back to the baggy shorts from the Fab Five era of Michigan basketball. Then, on Friday, the former PGA champion slipped into a white vest that read in bold letters across the belly, “Malbon Golf Championship.”

“It looks like he's wearing a billboard,” one patron quipped while watching from the shade.

Which is exactly the point.


More than any place in golf, the Masters is the place to see and be seen, and that goes for players and their sponsors. So in the last few years, the companies that provide their apparel have started going all out the first full week of April.

“The Masters is a global phenomenon,” explained Stephen Malbon, who founded the eponymous brand with his wife, Erica, in 2017. “The amount of media, the amount of international attention — it's as big of a broadcast of who we are as we get.”

Exactly what the Malbon brand is looks quite different from the traditional country club vibe. It is more like vintage streetwear, and one of the vehicles to bring it to the masses has been Day, who wore Nike and Adidas before becoming its ambassador this year.

“I've learned if something's not for you, it's probably for somebody else,” said Malbon, who was having fun Friday reading through comments about Day's wardrobe on social media, which ranged from high praise to hatred with very little in between.

“Golf can be very polarizing,” Malbon said, “and different people have perceived notions of what golf should look like.”

Justin Thomas, Erik van Rooyen and Akshay Bhatia are ambassadors for Greyson Clothiers, which bills itself as a full lifestyle brand complete with membership options. Their slightly more traditional looks are the work of Charlie Schaefer, who once served as senior vice president of design for Ralph Lauren, and who launched the brand in 2015 at the Masters.

Viktor Hovland, who is contending again this year, has an apparel deal with J. Lindberg. And when it comes to Masters wear, the Swedish clothing company has put him in some bold prints that often pay homage to the home of the year's first major.

That includes the black shirt with the giant azalea across the front that Hovland wore this week. The azalea, a particular species of Rhododendron, is almost synonymous with Augusta National and can be found throughout the course.

Hovland said during last year's PGA Championship at Oak Hill that he usually wears more muted colors.

“I wear a lot of gray, black, and that’s about it," he said. So when asked about the attire on the course, he replied quite simply: “Well, J. Lindeberg, they give me this stuff and pay me money to do so, so I just show up and wear what they want me to wear.”

In other words: They put it out, he puts it on.

Of course, there are still plenty of players sponsored by mainstream sports apparel companies.

Rory McIlroy still wears Nike, just like Scottie Scheffler, the world's top-ranked player, and Brooks Koepka, the reigning PGA champion. Rising star Ludvig Aberg is among those wearing Adidas gear, and former Masters champion Jordan Spieth is the most well-known ambassador for Under Armour, reportedly making eight figures annually on a deal through the 2029 season.

As part of the contract, Under Armour also donates $1 million annually to the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation.

But perhaps the biggest fashion icon in golf has been Tiger Woods, who made wearing Sunday red popular everywhere from exclusive private clubs to small-town munis. Woods began doing it when he was a junior because his mom, Kultida, said it was his “power color.” He played well his first time in red and stuck with it out of superstition.

For 27 years, Woods' Sunday red came from Nike in one of the most successful partnerships in sports. But late last year, the sides announced they had split up, and Woods revealed in February that he would be unveiling his own brand called Sun Day Red in a partnership with his golf equipment provider, TaylorMade.

“Sun Day Red will embody a love of playing and competing, and we are for people that share those values, whether it’s on the course or in life,” Woods said in February. “We will be anchored to putting the athlete first in the product decisions we make.”

The first good look the public has had of it has been at Augusta National this week. Woods wore a salmon-colored polo for the opening round Thursday that featured the brand's logo, a tiger with 15 stripes in a nod to his 15 major wins. Woods then slipped into a gray-and-white ensemble Friday, when he returned early to finish his first round and then played his second.

It was perfect timing — or genius marketing — because Sun Day Red will officially launch on May 1.


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