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In praise of vests

April 23, 2024

Amber Day

Are all golf vests blue? Of course not, but my travels across the golf shops and putting greens of North America suggest it is so. Among my sleeveless souvenirs are a couple with logos so powerful they stop more conversations than they start. Like the salt in my hair, looking in the mirror at these half-garments stokes pride yet also despair. When did I become so middle-aged, so conventional? I’m haunted by visions of Steve Urkel and Chandler Bing but never Young Tom Morris.

Same as too many golfers, my confidence always runs highest on the driving range. A vest’s snug hold around the engine of my torso and the resultant free-flowing whip of my arms conjures and reinforces the most magical swing tip I’ve ever known: The tail doesn’t wag the dog; the dog wags the tail. Dogs wear exclusively vests if they wear anything at all, and all I want is a bone. Inside the clubhouse for lunch, I’m girded against the excessive and heedless air conditionings of man. Also, I can dig into a bowl of gazpacho, a chicken Parmesan sandwich with fries and ketchup, an unruly Cobb salad—anything I want without fear, knowing I will stride to the first tee in my brilliant white polo in unblemished glory. My vest: protector, savior!

Don’t tell the police, but I can take a vest with a full-length zipper on or off while driving without unbuckling my seatbelt, old rotator cuff injury be damned. I can board a flight bound from one climate to another and not check a bag. What other article of clothing is so versatile it can be worn underneath a blazer or overtop a sweater? Fleece, down, knit, nylon—choose wisely for the day. A jacket is a commitment, and to meet the world with nothing but the shirt on your back is foolish.