2001: Preferred - Functional, yet fun

Kutztown, Pa.

LPGA player Laura Diaz made headlines a few weeks back with her observation that the tour should “market sex. Sex sells.” Her point, she later told Sports Illustrated, is that in order to attract the general sports fan, the LPGA “needs to acknowledge that a lot of people watch women’s sports more for the women than for the sports.”

Coincidentally, Golfweek Preferred dropped in unannounced last month at the First Union Betsy King Classic, eager to learn what’s up with women’s golf fashion. You’re correct, Laura. What we saw were a lot of attractive athletes, dressed in khaki shorts and traditional (read men’s) solid-color golf shirts.

Those who break from the mold, however, do it for reasons Diaz can appreciate.

“Looking nice and looking like a woman is important,” said Helen Alfredsson, who is under contract to wear apparel made by Peak Performance Sports, based in her native Sweden. “This is part of the woman’s strength. If you have the attributes, then use them, within reason.

“We are a young breed,” Alfredsson said, “and we need to look like it. It’s good for the sport.”

She’ll get no argument from Minny Yeo, a second-year pro from South Korea, by way of California.

“Everybody looks too much like men,” says Yeo, who represents Como Sport. “I’m aggressive on the golf course, too, but I’m a woman, and I want to look like one.”

Vicki Goetze-Ackerman said she’s seen a lot of changes on the LPGA fashion front during her eight years on tour. Among them: Risk-taking is more acceptable; shorts are shorter; flat fronts have replaced pleats; and skirts are back in vogue.

“I want to be comfortable, but I want to look feminine, too,” said Goetze-Ackerman, who has an apparel deal with Tommy Hilfiger Golf. “Fashion has to work for what I want to do.”

For Goetze-Ackerman, functional means shorts or pants with a back pocket, and material that’s lightweight and breathable.

Ask players who among them dresses in the most cutting-edge outfits, and many point to Leta Lindley.

The seventh-year pro wears outfits by Forward Tease, a small, women-owned start-up in Chicago.

“It’s a fun line,” Lindley says. “It’s kind of flirty, but tasteful. And most important, it travels well.

“A lot of golf stuff is so traditional. I like to look different than everyone else. I still have my collar; it’s just cut differently. Not so golfy. I can still go to the country club and be presentable.

“And I love that after working eight hours a day, my clothes still look fresh. Even if I don’t.”

By this time of year, most players who have apparel contracts have ordered their outfits for 2002. An informal poll revealed that the tight-fitting, European look is gaining momentum.

The best-dressed players, Alfredsson said, will continue to favor clothing that “doesn’t scream golf,” which she believes is “almost a negative stigma for women.”

And above all, the Swede cautioned, rolling her eyes: “No flowers, frogs, golf balls or tees.”

– Dave Seanor

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