With the Walker Cup still fresh on the mind and the uniforms worn by both sides being tasteful and smart, there is no point in writing about those widely pilloried American Ryder Cup shirts from the last day of the 1999 match at Brookline, the ones which were famously likened to tablecloths in a fast-food chain. A single picture says it all.
The thing is that uniforms have made for trouble since the beginning of Ryder Cup time, with the same applying to the Solheim Cup when that began in 1990.
Dealing first with the Ryder Cup, after GB&I had lost the inaugural match of 1927, they levelled the score two years later when George Duncan, the GB&I captain, opened with a verbal victory over Walter Hagen. (Thus buoyed, he went on to win his single against Johnny Farrell by 10 and 8.)
When Hagen, a flamboyant soul if ever there was one, was asked by the media what his team would be wearing, he replied, “The finest dark blue knicker suits you ever saw.” When the same question was directed at Duncan, the Scot made plain that he had no truck with such trivia. “The Ryder Cup,” he said, curtly, “is a golf match, not a mannequin parade.”
That GB&I might not have had the money for uniforms at that stage was probably no bad thing in that when they did go down that route, they looked like the poor relations. Neil Coles, one of the most lauded British players of all time, has no trouble remembering his first Ryder Cup at Lytham and St Annes in 1961. His uniform, such as it was, had been laid out in the locker-room and it included just the one sweater for the four days. Sensing at once that it was the wrong size, Coles made the effort to try it on. “It was pitifully small,” he said.
Dai Rees was that year’s captain and, when Coles told him of his predicament, Rees explained that his complaint was pointless. There were no more sweaters. So off Coles went to the on-site Pringle tent and spent his own money on a navy cardigan without a badge. And, no, he didn’t get reimbursed.
Tony Jacklin was the Ryder Cup captain who, when he became the captain in 1983 – by which time he was presiding over a European team rather than GB&I – recognised that the home side’s second-rate uniforms were worth not a few points to the Americans. However, since Jacklin had a US and a British Open to his name by then, he was able to dictate terms. He demanded cashmere sweaters as opposed to lambswool, leather golf bags instead of plastic, and the Concorde rather than economy flights.
As a result, his team felt 100 percent better about themselves. And my how it showed. They only lost by a point in ’83 and, with Jacklin remaining at the helm, they won on US soil for a first time in ’85 and again in the UK in 1987 before halving the match of ’89.
Cashmere became de rigueur from that point, though by the time Darren Clarke was captaining the side of 2016 things had gone too much the other way and the players were being coddled at ridiculous expense in “baby cashmere.”
Long before then, both sets of players’ wives’ uniforms had become more than faintly ridiculous, with no better example of what was going on than events at Medinah in 2012. Nicolas Colsaerts’s trousers were too long, and it was a matter of some urgency that they should be adjusted. Yet when Colsaerts arrived at the tailor’s portacabin, he found that the fellow was busy altering the wives’ evening wear.
When the player interrupted to explain his predicament, the women rounded on him. “You mean to say,” scoffed the leader of this little pack, “that you’ve come here just for that!”
Around 2015, fancy nail painting was in vogue among the ranks of the US Solheim Cup players. Juli inkster, the captain, didn’t appreciate this lengthy pastime and, two years later, decreed that her team would not be painting their nails, “at least in my time.”
Paul McGinley was altogether less condemnatory of the practice. He understood that such things could contribute to the bonding process and was quick to recall Detroit in ’04. That was when Sergio García arrived with 12 wristbands which had been blessed by his local priest. Everyone wore them, and McGinley continued to wear his until it wore out. Michele Wie and Morgan Pressel, incidentally, teamed up ahead of the 2013 Solheim to plait their own wristbands.
For a long time, waterproofs, as Laura Davies discovered for the Solheim of ’94, not only performed the mundane task of doing what was expected of them but provided an ancillary purpose in hiding the ill-fitting shirts provided by the European Ladies Tour. But at Celtic Manor in the Ryder Cup of 2010, waterproofs came into their own, stealing the headlines as never before.
Getting uniforms 100 percent right remains one of the more exacting tasks and this year, because of social distancing, there is scope for error in both the Ryder and Solheim versions.
The Americans, captained by Corey Pavin, had brightened their garments by following Pavin’s wife’s seemingly excellent idea of having names embroidered on the back. The Europeans were understandably envious until the rain started in earnest and water seeped, or rather poured, through the little holes made by the stitching.
Ian Poulter, as you might expect, was no more waterproof than the jackets when it came to keeping a tactful silence. In no time at all, news of the cold and sodden Americans was tweeted around the globe.
Getting uniforms 100 percent right remains one of the more exacting tasks and this year, because of social distancing, there is scope for error in both the Ryder and Solheim versions. Some, though not all, of the European Ryder Cup players and their caddies, along with all of the Solheim Cup brigade, are having to send in details of their measurements on charts. (Who wouldn’t bet on the caddies making the better job of it?) The Americans, meantime, are staying with the same 2020-labelled uniforms made for that year.
They will go down well when any kind of wastage is so deplored. Mind you, someone, somewhere, will complain that they look hopelessly out of date.
© 2021 Global Golf Post LLC
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?