A journey through the strange and wonderful history of the Ryder Cup uniforms | ET REALITY

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What are we really looking for when we talk about Ryder Cup fashion? We love the ugly. Oh yes, we love to have fun with quirky and eye-catching designs. We love making fun of Justin Leonard’s famous 1999 putt on The Shirt. We live for strange, unnecessary stripes or loud colors.

But what do we really want? We want sweaters. Light and sporty sweaters. Adam Scott-core. We want the European countryside to feel welcoming as autumn begins. We want clothes that look like the 1960s but provide a more elegant and modern style.

Sometimes we get art. We receive beautiful clothes that look like the legendary letterman jacket that we will never be a part of. But sometimes we suffer disasters. Crimes. Stylistic blasphemy that should be hidden from the archives.

So, ahead of this week’s Ryder Cup in Marco Simone’s Italian countryside, let’s take a look at the Ryder Cup teams over the years. It’s been a journey.


Left: Arnold Palmer and the American team in 1965. Right: Peter Butler and Lionel Platts of Great Britain in the same Ryder Cup. (Evening Standard, Express/Hulton Archive via Getty Images)

The 1960s

This is the template. But it almost never changed during the 50s and 60s. V-neck sweaters. Fitted collars. Britain wore a large number of simple cream-colored sweaters each year. It looked great and they didn’t stray from it. Americans wore simple polo shirts or dark blue sweaters.

But there is one element that stands out. From what appears to be 1961 to 1965, America sported these beautiful white zipper jackets. They almost look like NBA warm-up jackets. Or maybe a really cool jacket that a mechanic would wear. Imagine arriving at a bar in this sweet, sweet jacket, calmly knocking on the bar and saying “the usual” while Pete The Bartender slides on a domestic beer.


Left: Americans surround captain Jack Burke, Jr., holding the Ryder Cup in 1973. Right: Scotland’s Ryan Barnes during the same Cup. (Don Morley/Getty Images)

1973

Is this the beginning of the Ryder Cup style? It is the moment when it seems that the 70s arrived in golf.

This is the first Ryder Cup in which Britain became “Great Britain and Ireland” and also the first with a bit of European colour. Are those orange-brown pants under those blue sweaters? And plaid. There are so many paintings everywhere. The British team had plaid collars over their sweaters. And I’m 90 percent sure that the American uniform assignment was simply: “Bring your plaid pants.” But there were no actual uniform pants. They are all different. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are dressed in simple checks, but different checks! Lee Trevino has a more original and creative plaid design. As long as it’s plaid, gentlemen.


American golfer Lee Trevino, right, in the 1981 Ryder Cup at Walton Heath Golf Course, Surrey. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1981

I am convinced that each outfit from this era is simply something that Lee Treviño already wore and the captain decided to distribute it throughout the team. Is big. It’s colorful. And I really want to talk about the necklaces. They are so fucking big. When worn with a V-neck sweater (as they usually are), the collars rise even higher and look like those puffy-chested pirate shirts.

But the biggest news on my mind was that on Sunday America was wearing light blue V-neck sweaters and light blue collared shirts underneath. Just pure sky blue on sky blue. At first I thought it was a sweater with a singular collar like our modern quarter-zip ones, but no, no! If you look close enough you can see that they are separated. The confidence it takes to pull it off, well, the United States won 18 1/2 to 9 1/2.


Seve Ballesteros, Sam Torrance and captain Tony Jacklin celebrate winning the European Ryder Cup at The Belfry in 1985. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Getty Images)

1985

At the time, Britain had expanded into all of continental Europe, but had still not won since 1957. But this was the year it broke the streak, and maybe that’s because it’s the year it started having fun. Yes, you have your classic cream sweaters, but let’s let some bold red pants balance it out for a gorgeous look. Another day, it was golden yellow pants with dark blue sweaters and another golden yellow shirt underneath. Potentially my favorite look of all.

Also, let’s pay an ode to European team style legend Bernhard Langer. He appears in almost every competition in the 80s and I’m not entirely sure he’s wearing the right thing every day. In foursomes, he wears a collared shirt, while Ken Brown wears a turtleneck. On Sunday’s Singles, he might be the only European wearing a white turtleneck under his bright red sweater. It’s a great look, but he might be going rogue.


USA’s Tom Watson makes a putt in the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry. (Simon Bruty/Allsport via Getty Images)

1989

After a very, very boring period of American outfits, we’re starting to see the rise of flashy ’90s American designs. We’re not there yet, but what are these sweaters? You have vertical stripes. You have horizontal stripes. You got an L, which, well, the United States didn’t lose, so thank God they couldn’t throw it in their faces. The V is also so deep that it passes through the rib cage. Wild things.


Left: José María Olazábal and Seve Ballesteros read a putt in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Right: Mark Calcavecchia the same year. (Stephen Munday, Simon Bruty/Getty Images)

1991

The peak of the sweater vest. All around. No notes. Just a beautiful performance from both parties bringing art and contrast to the sweater vest aesthetic. A white vest for Europe? Let’s put Steve in a pink shirt underneath so he bounces perfectly. A forest green sweater vest? Europe mixes it with a very soft blue with plaid pants. Marvelous. And the United States was not far behind. He sported a really simple yet strong red, white and blue look with a red vest, white shirt and dark blue pants. It’s obvious but done perfectly.


The wives and girlfriends of the European team in 1993. (Stephen Munday/Getty Images)

1993

I’m going to ask my editor to put a photo of the European wives’ sweaters so you can see it too.


Left: Tiger Woods, Hal Sutton and Payne Stewart after victory in 1999. Right: Davis Love III celebrates a great putt. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images

1999

La Camisa is the most famous, but what a rollercoaster for the United States. Before we even get to The Shirt, the other days aren’t much better. It’s a bunch of horizontal stripes and ugly colors. What’s with the black polo shirt with seemingly yellow double horizontal stripes? Nobody looks athletic in it.

But the one you all want to see is, of course, Sunday’s shirt. The red shirt with a strange move when placing more than half a century of framed photographs of past American teams. Captain Ben Crenshaw apparently supervised it and spent a lot of time making this jersey that pays homage to the past. It’s pretty comical that one of the most famous moments in Ryder Cup history – Justin Leonard sinking a 50-foot birdie putt on the 17th to essentially spark a huge U.S. comeback from down 10-6 – is forever linked. with that shirt. It has become so famous that one of them sold for $3,906 at auction in 2018.


Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell, from left, at the 2006 Ryder Cup. (Sven Nackstrand / AFP via Getty Images)

Early 2000s

I have no qualms with Jim Furyk. He was a great golfer. By all indications, he’s a good guy. But Furyk is boring. That’s almost part of his reputation. His best golf was also synonymous with somewhat boring golf. So it’s quite fitting that every search for the 2002 and 2004 Ryder Cups seems to start with a photo of Furyk in a really boring outfit. In 2002, you see dark blue sweater vests with boring, dark red shirts. Without energy. In 2004, he is a completely dull and empty dark blue vest with a light blue shirt. It’s all about that baggy, unflattering 2000s style. The early 2000s are arguably the worst style era in American history, yet the 2006 photo of an all-brown American look from somehow surpasses it. What are we doing here, guys?


Lee Westwood, center, walks off a green at the 2010 Ryder Cup, flanked by Steve Stricker, left, and Tiger Woods, right. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images)

2010

This year is strangely an outlier in 21st century Ryder Cup aesthetics. If we found the times boring and boring, and the last 10 years have given us very solid but uninspiring results, 2010 is the year stuck in the middle that gave us fun. I’m not sure it all works, but it’s all interesting and lively.

Yes, it’s a lavender cardigan vest for the US. Yes, it’s an all-black European argyle set. I even approve of America’s tan sweater with a light blue shirt. And I’m here for royal blue Sunday sweaters for Europe.


Rory McIlroy, left, and Patrick Reed during the 2016 Ryder Cup. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

2012 onwards

At this point, both teams have adapted to a new template. The European team has essentially adopted the European Union color scheme and everything they do is based on that royal blue and white with yellow accents. And works.

Meanwhile, Team USA started dressing in Ralph Lauren and suddenly everything took on that timeless-meets-normal style. America has become obsessed with horizontal stripes, something I personally don’t like but will accept because Ralph Lauren does it well. It’s all rooted in a red, white and blue look with dark blue bases and red accents. Polos always include many original blocks or unusual stripes. It never looks bad. It also never looks super natural. The USA logo always looks like a dork trying to be modern, like an expansion team created in a video game, but that’s okay. We’ll probably never see another 1999, but we won’t get some of those gorgeous ’80s looks either.


Jimmy Walker, left, and Rickie Fowler wearing very patriotic sweaters in 2014. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The flag sweater of 2014.

I’ll end this, because I need everyone to tell me what they think. The plain blue sweater from 2014 with nothing but an American flag stuck right in the center. Is this an amazing and simple use of minimalism? Or is it a bit stupid? I need all your thoughts, because my gut says it’s bad.

(Illustration: Eamonn Dalton/Getty Images; Photos: Andy Lyons/Getty Images, Rusty Jarrett, Simon Bruty/Allsport via Getty Images, Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

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