Dress For Good Press

I don’t think it’s any secret among my loyal readers (and by “loyal readers”, I mean, of course, the three terribly unfortunate souls who mistakenly clicked on a link that led them to my page o’blathering) that I love women’s golf. I like watching the LPGA, the women’s amateur, and anything else they beam to my television. I follow the women’s golf team from my alma mater with the same fervor that I dedicate to the men’s team. And if they showed the L.E.T. and the Duramed Future’s Tour on The Golf Channel, I’d watch those as well. I know many will disagree with me, but I find women’s golf just as compelling as the men’s tournaments and, many times, more so.

But watching the LPGA tournament last week, I noticed something. No, not that. Or that! Geez, you guys!

At the risk of being outed as the misogynist that I undoubtedly am, what I noticed is that many of the ladies, who were competing on national television in front of hundreds of thousands of people, looked like they had wandered into the men’s section of their local golf store for their tournament attire. Of course, Paula Creamer looked fantastic as usual. But a disproportionately high percentage of the players looked like they dressed themselves with the goal of looking like what they thought men would want to wear if men were woman. Shapeless trousers, boxy polos, and masculine or just plain boring colors were the order of the day.

Two of the most prominent offenders are also two of my favorite players and, perhaps not coincidentally, the two best players in the world: Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam. Both have extensive sponsorship contracts with clothing companies, both are fit, and both almost always look like they dressed in the dark without a mirror.

For her part, Annika appears to have an unnatural fascination with the colors of a certain ice cream chain store offering 31 flavors of creamy, artery-clogging goodness. Her favorite ensemble seems to be a pink and brown monstrosity that looks suspiciously like the uniform for the aforementioned ice creamery. She also has several other outfits apparently designed with a theme based on one of my favorite Baskin-Robin’s frozen treats: Rainbow Sherbet. And while neon orange, pink, and cream work together to tingle your taste-buds . . . a pink, orange and white color-block pattern on a shirt and pants just isn’t as tasty. Perhaps Annika is simply working through some ice-cream related childhood trauma? (“You’ll have vanilla and you’ll like it!!!!!” . . . “But daddy, I want chocolate!” . . . “No little Annika! Always vanilla! Never chocolate!! Only vanilla!!!” “I’ll show you daddy! I will become the greatest female golfer in history and when I do I will design and wear clothes that force you to think of ice-cream flavors other than vanilla!”). Okay, maybe not.

Lorena, on the other hand, just looks . . . frumpy. I wish I could expand on the idea more, but my status as a straight male prevents from mentally processing the individual components that, when combined together, result in frumpiness. One thing I can say, however, is that not many 26+ year old women can pull off the “tom-boy” look, despite the number of players who seem to be trying. Perhaps it is the fault of designers who, only recently, seem to have recognized that women golfers are not just shorter men golfers. Or perhaps it is the result of very smart women focused on their games and not their personal marketing. Whatever the cause, several LPGA stars seem to be immune from the plague and are able to balance the role of an elite golfer with the role of a well-dressed female golfer: Paula Creamer exploits the “girly girl next door” look; Cristie Kerr always displays a clean, but feminine look; Morgan Pressel oozes class, and Christina Kim takes fun and crazy to a whole new level. All of these golfers have raised their prominence through not only good play, but good appearance as well.

I’m in no way suggesting that the ladies of the LPGA should be forced to wear clothes that they don’t want to wear. But with the LPGA facing a self-admitted viewership crisis, it’s a wonder to me that the leadership in Dayona Beach hasn’t taken steps to further regulate the dress code and educate the players on what looks good, and what doesn’t. The LPGA has a requirement that a player must play each tournament on the schedule at least once every four years. Perhaps a requirement that the ladies must wear a skort once every four rounds wouldn’t be so outrageous. The men of the PGA, after all, are subject to a “no shorts” rule, even in oppressive heat.
Don’t get me wrong, men have it easy. It’s hard to screw up trousers and a polo (although Woody Austin seems to try ever week, and Sergio Garcia occasionally looks like he should be driving the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile instead of TaylorMade’s latest 460cc engineering and marketing marvel.)

But the LPGA isn’t just professional golf, it is professional golf on television. Perception is important. Surely the appearance of the players that the LPGA markets is at least as important as their ability to speak a minimal level of English. Because, if the other viewers are anything like me, they watch the LPGA because they enjoy both the “L” and the “G”. And I, for one, want the LPGA to prosper.

Harry Longshanks is a regular contributor to The Hackers Paradise. And by “regular”, we don’t mean normal.

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