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High-Profile Golfers Dress to the Nines

<i> Yorks is a reqular contributor to the fashion pages</i>

If clothes really do make the man, do they make the golfer too?

Probably not, but it doesn’t stop some high-profile amateurs from dressing for fashion success. Golfer and NBC “Today” host Bryant Gumbel takes golf chic seriously. Fellow players say he calls them to find out what they’ll wear, to make sure they won’t clash with him on the course.

Preppy presidential putter George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle wear traditional collared sport shirts and the obligatory khaki pants, which make for good public relations on the nightly news.

New York Debut

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It is for these fashionable sports that designer Ralph Lauren created his new golf-wear collection for men or women, which recently debuted in New York. His romanticized, country club designs are made of luxurious fabrics , such as cashmere, cotton knit and cotton gabardine. Plus fours (the knickers like the ones professional golfer Payne Stewart wears) figure heavily in Lauren’s nostalgic nod to the ‘40s. The men’s clothes will range in price from $90 for a knit shirt to $500 for a cardigan sweater.

The designer’s line for women also features cashmere and cotton fabrics. Skirts, shorts and pants are paired with knit shirts. The collection retails from $85 for a sports shirt to $790 for a cashmere cardigan.

Lauren’s collection is just the tip of the golf fashion iceberg. European and American athletic-wear manufacturers, including Wilson, Head Sportswear, Bogner and Izod , showcased their designs at a fashion show in Long Beach, hosted by Golf Digest.

The fashion statement these companies stressed is that of color on the course. Geometric designs , such as diamond and stripe patterns , dominated the show. These collections appeal to golfers more interested in dressing like their golf-tour heroes than in running out to buy the latest designer ensemble.

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“Golfers today want to wear what the guys on tour are wearing, said Dan Gilkinson, a manufacturer’s representative for Titleist, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer featured at the Long Beach fashion show.

Contracts Dictate

Just what do professional golfers wear? Most often, they wear whatever their sports contract specifies that they wear. Scott Verplank, who has been under contract to wear FILA golf wear for three years, says he likes its European look. He prefers to play in soft, mercerized cotton shirts and shorts. But because the Professional Golfer’s Assn. (PGA) prohibits men from wearing shorts when on tour, Verplank wears slacks while playing in tournaments.

“I think it’s important (for me) to look good on the course, to look professional when I’m working, just like anybody else,” he says.

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