PGA Tour Players: How Style Can Influence Fan Perception

GolfThreads continues to grow. As a result, I’m excited to announce that Michael Ruuska has joined the GT team. Michael has been a loyal reader and frequent commenter on the site. He has a smooth writing style, a witty sense of humor, a keen eye for style, and a passion for golf fashion. I know you’ll enjoy his contributions moving forward. To kick things off, Michael takes a look at how the fashion choices of PGA Tour players can influence fan perception. Enjoy!

We are all guilty of making assumptions and forming opinions about people based on fashion choices, albeit mostly subconsciously. How you dress has a significant impact on how others view you and directly impacts your reputation. Golf is a unique sport because its professional athletes do not wear a uniform (uniforms by nature suppress individuality). PGA Tour pros have the freedom to use their clothing as a way to express themselves and influence how they are regarded by their fan base. Although I do have an advanced degree in psychology, the following is a somewhat satirical, or maybe sartorial, take on how some golfers on the PGA Tour may be perceived based on their on-course fashion choices.

Rickie Fowler

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Rickie’s on-course persona screams hip and trendy; especially early on with the hair, the flat brim hat and bright & colorful outfits. His overall style makes him seem fun and possessing of a self-deprecating humor (that stretch with the mustache, right?). Confident and edgy, Rickie introduced a little counterculture in the sometimes stuffy world of golf (joggers, high-top spikes, and recent tattoos) yet maintains a respect for the history of the sport (Arnold Palmer themed high-tops at the API). Overall, Rickie is like the smell of fresh laundry in a stale room. The signature style he has created with Puma helps him come across as one of the more likable golfers amongst fans.

Dustin Johnson

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DJ is the Arthur Fonzarelli of the PGA Tour. His monochromatic style is as cool as Fonzie’s leather jacket. DJ is cool. Period. A study of perceptions of physical attractiveness by Timothy Brown in 1986 found that tight fitting clothes on men increased the perception of masculinity. Perfectly tailored medium polo shirts on a 6’4” frame easily earn you alpha male status (and sex appeal). Combine the fit and color palette of his Adidas gear with an exaggerated swagger as he walks the course, and DJ can come across as arrogant and aloof which can result in a lack of relatability to golf fans.

Phil Mickelson

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There is a consistency in Phil’s signature style that breeds familiarity and trust. He is very non-threatening, yet still seems powerful and in control. The KPMG hat/visor, plain Callaway polo shirt, and lightly textured pants/belt and penchant for dark colors with classic looking shoes make Phil feel like the trusted family doctor; a classy man who we can depend on and has earned our respect.

Jordan Spieth

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Spieth does not dress much different than the average high school golfer or a weekend warrior; head-to-toe Under Armour. I’d argue his simple style, the non-descript fit of his clothing (not too tight not too baggy) and boy-next-door looks make Jordan appear pleasant, trusting, innocent and especially relatable and approachable for golf fans.

Jason Day/Brooks Koepka (really any Nike golfer….)

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With so many PGA Tour pros wearing Nike these days the “swoosh” is the closest thing to a uniform in golf. Nike’s logo is so commonplace that it has become pedestrian and conformist. Their athletes have a greater chance of being viewed as unimaginative and somewhat bland in their personality. Guys like Day and Koepka with their slim fitting, (sometimes) collarless, and typically plain shirts look exceptionally athletic and fit but give off less of an intellectual vibe. Fans view them as athletes or jocks. Sporty rules with Nike and these guys are definitely the first to get picked in a schoolyard kickball game!

Justin Rose

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Rose has made an exceptional transformation since his switch to the adiPure line. The John Ashworth phase made him look like a character from the Big Bang Theory. Now he is styled like a proper English gentleman. The adiPure line looks much more premium in its craftsmanship and makes Mr. Rose look like a classy, sophisticated blue blood. Although no longer nerd-like in his appearance (except maybe when he wears those horrible sunglasses), his tournament scripts certainly make him look scholarly and cerebral.


  1. Great take Michael. I concur with your overall assessment however would argue that Adidas missed the boat by opting to highlight Rose in their adiPure line. For my money, Sergio would have been the more appropriate sponsored athlete given his recent maturity (marriage) and throng of followers on both the PGA and Euro tours. Here’s a guy who isn’t afraid of the occasional pastel or reverting back to the neons of the eighties. Don’t get me wrong, Rose has come a long way, I’m simply saying that Adidas needs to capitalize on Sergio’s mass appeal and I bet they were kicking themselves after the playoff at Augusta! Welcome to GT Michael, I look forward to future posts.

    1. David, thanks for reading. I agree that Sergio would look great in the adiPure line but don’t know that his fiery and polarizing personality fits what Adidas is doing with the adiPure line. Rose is a more unassuming and refined personality. I think that is how they want to brand this particular line. Regardless, Adidas did well having Sergio and Rose battle it out on Sunday of the 2017 Masters!!

  2. Mike, congrats on writing for Golf-threads now. I can’t wait to read more of your articles and this first one was awesome. I really like what Rickie wears and Jordan. Jordan is always simple and clean while Rickie takes solid calculated risks. When Rafa doesn’t wear a white belt, typically he brings his own style game to the course and it looks sporty and well put together. I also really like Luke Donald and Billy in their RLX gear over JT. JT’s fit can sometimes be off. Keep up the great work!

  3. I personally know Mike, we have worked together for 10+ years and I can vouch that he talks the talk and walks the walk! His slick style and witty sense of humor is a match made in heaven with Golf Threads! Every time we connect at work the topic of golf always seems to work its way into our conversations–his enthusiasm for the game radiates and I cannot wait to read more of his articles! Congratulations Mike!

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