[Editor’s Note: A few days ago I asked webmaster John Ekdahl, who’s much more golf-knowledgeable than I am, if he wanted to write something about the U.S. Open. I also mentioned that Rory McIlroy’s Oakley belt buckles made it look like he was wearing a transistor radio on his belly. From such humble beginnings came the piece you’re about to read. — PL]
By John Ekdahl
"What is that?" Tiger Woods once asked Anthony Kim, referring to the gigantic "AK" belt buckle the rookie was wearing in 2007. "Well, Nike hasn’t put my initials on anything yet", Kim responded. Kim is widley believed to have started the custom belt buckle trend that has swept the PGA Tour by storm in recent years (some also credit Rory Sabbatini). While Kim’s buckles have certainly garnered plenty of media attention (and not always positive), it was actually Jesper Parnevik who began wearing a branded J. Lindeberg belt buckle nearly a decade ago.
As buckles have become more popular, the major golf companies have gotten into the act. Generally, these corporate-branded buckles are worn by golfers that have full sponsorships. Paul Casey and Stewart Cink are with Nike, along with Michelle Wie on the women’s tour. Adidas seems to have the most golfers wearing branded buckles. Among them are Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia. Puma has made a big splash with Rickie Fowler. Oakley has started to invest more money into golf, as anyone who watched Rory McIlroy’s victory on Sunday probably noticed. His playing partner that day, Y.E. Yang wears a Le Coq Sportif buckle along with his sponsorship.
There are some single buckle sponsorships on the PGA Tour. It’s difficult to estimate exactly what it would be worth (mainly because buckles are still a rather new phenomenon and most of the buckles you see are part of blanket sponsorship deals). Hunter Mahan has worn a Monster Energy buckle and a Hermes buckle, but now appears to have switched over to Under Armour. Travis Mathew sponsors a number of golfers, including Bubba Watson (although he couldn’t wear one in this outfit). Watson also owns this buckle made from $25,000 worth of pink sapphires and black diamonds. Lee Westwood wears a Druh belt and buckle, which is the same company that created John Daly’s custom buckle. D.A. Points has worn a Lego buckle. Luke Donald has a Ralph Lauren buckle that matches the logo on his right sleeve. Even celebrities are now rocking them on the course.
After Graeme McDowell’s win at U.S. Open last year, it looked like he might join the ranks of the big belt buckle brigrade when Callaway/Odyssey presented him with a sterling silver and gold buckle. McDowell ultimately jettisoned Callaway/Odyssey as corporate sponsor before he ever wore it, but in this interview Graeme mentions he does wear an understated custom buckle:
"House of Fleming in Atlanta do my belts. They do a lot with the guys’ belts, in a colorful way. I’ve got a great blue gator one that I enjoy wearing. House of Fleming makes belts for Darren Clarke, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. They do a lot of the guy’s stuff and have some really, really cool skins. I actually have my own buckle that the guy designed, it’s quite plain but it’s a classy looking buckle and stuff. There aren’t any big G-Mac logos or anything but just a nice classy looking buckle."
Ross Fisher sports a buckle with his personal "fish" logo which was designed by same company behind McDowell’s. It appears he has to wear his Under Armour one occasionally, though. Here’s Fisher talking about getting his personal buckle made:
"I was staying at Lake Nona the week of Bay Hill and went out to dinner with some of the guys and met Bobby the Bell and Rusty, and he was kind of designing belts at the time for G-Mac. So I said to him, you know, this is my signature, and I’m kind of known as the Fish. So what could you do? And he literally designed it then and there in the restaurant. I thought it was pretty cool and decided to go for it and asked how soon can you get it ready. And he got it ready about 13, 14 days later for my first appearance at the Masters."
Last but not least is the resident master stylist of the PGA Tour, Ian Poulter. Poulter has turned the outlandish golf attire he wears on the course into an apparel company of its own – IJP Designs. His website allows you to track his outfits and location day-by-day. And of course, his company logo belt buckle is for sale.
There are even some belt companies that allow you to design and produce your own custom buckles if anyone is interested is shelling out a few hundred bucks. It appears this golf fad might be here to stay.
Paul here. Nicely done, John. As for McIlroy, this is the belt he wears. Check out that ad copy — someone actually got paid to write that?! Meanwhile, in case you missed it over the weekend, here’s a really good piece about how golfers’ outfits are scripted by the athleticwear companies.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The O’s and Bucs wore 1971 World Series throwbacks last night, but it was a mess. Too much bagginess and logo creep (sleeves, caps, pants, the works), not enough high-cuffery or whistling Irishman, buttons on both teams’ pants were the wrong color (a small detail, but an easy one to get right if Majestic actually gave a shit), Buccos’ uni numbers were sitting too low (but it’s cool that the batboy was wearing No. 71). I do love that old mustard tone the Pirates used to wear, though. … Meanwhile, Outmania hit New York last night. I believe that’s the first time the A’s have (a) worn a solid green road cap with a gold jersey and (b) worn their current gold alt on the road. But as Phil pointed out in last night’s comments, they’ve worn other gold jerseys on the road over the years. In fact, they’ve even worn them in New York against the Mets (although not with true gray pants like they did last night). … Also, prior to the game, Mets skipper Terry Collins had some fun by giving all the players Jose Reyes-style tams/snoods/skullcaps/etc. Not really sure what the point of that was supposed to be, except maybe to keep everyone loose (thanks, Phil). … Here’s a buncha shots of the new U.S. women’s soccer team in their new uniforms. “Man, is that black USA jersey even crappier than expected or what?” asks R. Scott “No Funnel Cake for Me” Rogers. “As a fan and a patriot, I don’t even know how to root for team USA in black.” … Boston’s Mayor to Nike: Your lifestyle sucks (with thanks to Trevor Williams). … Steve King asked Alan Hahn, who’s Newsday’s Knicks beat writer, if the team had any uni changes in the works for next season. Hahn responded that he hears there’s nothing in the works, which runs counter to what I was told by a source a while back. But keep in mind that many beat writers don’t consider something like removing black trim to qualify as a uniform change — they don’t think it’s a change unless there’s a new chest logo or something like that. We shall see. … Speaking of NYC beat writers, Larry Brooks of the Post is reporting that the Rangers will be in the Winter Classic, which is already leading to some uni speculation (with thanks to Matthew Robins). … In a very interesting move, the Rams are letting their fans vote on when they should wear their throwbacks. Also, note that the beginning of the fifth graf: “According to league rules, teams must wear any throwback uniforms within the first 10 weeks of the season.” That confirms the information I reported a few weeks ago. … Someone at the Cards/Royals series had a good idea, but sloppy execution (with thanks to Gary Streeting). … “I’ve compiled some photos from the Boston Public Library Collection that chronicle the 1930s evolution of the Red Sox uniforms, from their early white with red trim look to the look we’re more familiar with today,” says Steve Murphy. “I think it’s pretty interesting, even in black and white.” … What do you call T-shirts with NOBs and numbers on the back, like a jersey? Jake Fehling calls them shirseys, and he’s created a new site devoted to them. … Here’s an extremely thorough and in-depth look at the story behind Brian Gordon’s synthetic glove (big thanks to Thomas Boorstein). … Yesterday’s piece about baseball diamonds as viewed from the air prompted Calvin Farris to send me this collection of aerial views of Brazilian soccer fields. … The Predators will unveil new road jerseys this weekend. … I’m still calling it Rutgers Stadium. … In a related item, Brandon Vogel reports that a T-shirt vendor at the College World Series should be giving kickbacks to me and No Mas. … I don’t keep close track of college baseball unis, but Mark Lum says this is the first time in recent history that Cal has worn navy stirrups and gold sannies. … Great cover design on this Colts sheet music (big thanks to Bob Andrews). … When Notre Dame and Michigan unveiled their throwbacks, I was surprised that the Irish didn’t have special gloves. Well, that didn’t last (with thanks to Kyle Ostendorf). … Riddell is introducing a new shoulder pad technology called RipKord, which is basically a quick-release system to make it easier and faster to remove an injured player’s pads without wrenching his neck or spine. … Kyle Speicher recently visited Buccaneers HQ and took lots of pics of the various prototypes and other items of interest they have on display. … Hey, Chance Michaels and John Okray, have either of you been traveling in Hawaii lately? The reason I ask is that Brendan Shriane was driving around in Hawaii and noticed that someone had made an old Brewers logo out of coral (here’s another view).