Trendsetter. Pioneer. Call him what you want, but the reality is Brian Gay has better style than the rest of us. That is not hyperbole; it is a fact. He does not get the credit he deserves for advancing golf fashion to where it is today. As we look back on Brian’s professional career, you’ll be astonished how he always seems to be ahead of the curve.
Drab to Debonair
Growing up a ‘military brat,’ Brian’s fashion landscape was rather drab. His father was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army (and a scratch golfer on the All-Army team). Thankfully, his parents always dressed well and impressed upon Brian the value of looking good and standing out in a crowd.
During our conversation, Brian mentioned that he doesn’t wear khaki pants anymore. I asked if growing up surrounded by Army Service Uniforms had something to do with it. “Nah,” he countered, “nothing pops against khaki pants.” (BG’s tip–white is always a better option). Yeah, this guy gets fashion!
When Brian joined the PGA Tour in 1999, he wore Clint Eastwood’s “traditional” golf clothing brand, Tehama (he even wore khaki’s back then). In 2006 with a desire to further his fashion evolution, he joined Dunning and embraced the performance-wear revolution. With his new clothing sponsor, we saw Brian incorporate a bit more of his personality into what he wore (bright polos and colorful belts).
I don’t want to be wearing what everyone else is wearing. I want to stand out on the course.Brian Gay
In 2008 Brian met his sartorial soulmate, SLIGO. If you believe in the “look good, play good” adage, here was proof. Brian won for the first time on the PGA Tour within weeks of wearing the Canadian brand’s striking outfits!
“The switch to SLIGO just made me feel good,” he gushed.
Finally, Brian was able to use golf apparel as a form of self-expression. As someone who doesn’t like to wear what everyone else is wearing, it must’ve been a liberating experience to move away from the drab “golf uniforms” populating the game during the early aughts.
The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)
David Duval was the first and only guy who wore sunglasses more than me. It has to be pouring rain or pitch black for me not to wear my TORCH sunglasses.
In early 2009 Brian won his second of five PGA Tour victories (so far). His competitors were noticing his game as well as his flair. When you look at the early pictures of Brian Gay with his spiked, frosted hair and colorful kits, he looked like the lovechild of Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter. However, he predates both! Rickie was still an amateur golfer in 2008 at Oklahoma State, and Poulter was splitting time between the European and PGA Tour.
Brian Gay’s inimitable style kept him ahead of the fashion curve and continued to shake up the golf establishment. Last year GolfThreads predicted that tuxedo-striped trousers would be an emerging trend in 2021. Guess what? Brian was wearing those back in 2012! Remember all the hullabaloo over joggers and attention that guys like Erik van Rooyen received for wearing them? Brian Gay was the first guy to win a PGA Tour event (2020 Bermuda Championship) while wearing the G/FORE Technical Jogger!
In 2016 Brian was wearing Adidas shoes and didn’t like that there was no ability to color coordinate them with his outfits. Enter the G/FORE Gallivanters. Problem solved. Sort of…now he had a new issue. Too many Gallivanter shoes to pack for events!
I always carry at least 4-5 pairs on a trip to coordinate with my outfits. I could easily pack seven (laughs)!
Brian had always been on the GolfThreads radar for the year-end Threadies (best-dressed list). His 2018 mid-season switch to G/FORE apparel saw him become one of the most progressive dressers on the PGA Tour. Brian shook up the golf fashion status quo (while still respecting the game) by incorporating edgy camo and skull & tee designs. As a result, he earned his first Threadie (#7) in 2018 and never looked back (#6 in ’19 and ’20).
If the early start of the 2021 season is any indication, Brian might find himself in the top three of this year’s Threadies. At the Tournament of Champions, he wore a pair of floral print pants for “Aloha Friday” that he hadn’t tried on beforehand. When he put them on, they were just a little tight. Fortunately, his polo looked great untucked (not to mention more comfortable). Not only did he make it work, but he also owned the look.
When I asked what are some of the items he’s most excited about from the G/FORE SS’21 Collection, the Sketch Printed Polo topped his list, as well as the Hooded Luxe Mid (which Brian will be wearing soon). Keep an eye out for this one!
I always ask who players think are the best dressed guys on the PGA Tour (in case I am missing someone in my coverage). So of course, I had to ask a style savant like Brian Gay his thoughts….
“Billy Horschel always looks good. I really like the Greyson guys, too. Sam Ryder in particular stands out. “
As I’ve entered the back nine of my forties, I appreciate contemporaries such as Brian Gay keeping it fresh. It’s motivating for me to see guys like BG seamlessly staying on-trend and not looking out of place with guys twenty years his junior. I half-heartedly joked with Brian that my kids (10 & 13) as well as some of my regular playing partners tell me that I am too old to wear some of the stuff that I do. He scoffed at that notion; “Don’t give in. As long as it fits properly, wear what makes you feel good.”
Look Good, Play Good, right Brian?
This was an excellent change of pace and a really fun article. Keep up the awesome work.
Thanks, Jim. I always appreciate your kind words and loyal readership. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Hoping to do more player profiles this season. I’ve been collecting fashion tidbits, advice, and quirks from players that I will be including in upcoming editions of TWIGF. Stay tuned.