Being the official outfitter of the U.S. Ryder Cup team is trickier business than you think. How do you create something unique for the historic occasion, something that appeals to the modern athlete with a patriotic flare yet won’t offend golf traditionalists? And how do you do it while staying true to your own brand?
To their credit, the designers at Ralph Lauren found the appropriate balance in the variety of Polo Golf and RLX Golf items developed for the players, captains, caddies and spouses who will be at Hazeltine National outside Minneapolis the last week of September. The company showed they didn’t let the ghosts of Ryder Cups past get in their way, offering Golf Digest an exclusive preview of the apparel prior to the official unveiling Aug. 29 by captain Davis Love III in Manhattan.
Awash in red, white and blue, the Ryder Cup Collection injects the best of today’s style trends—engineered strips, color blocking and graphic prints—with performance fabrics to offer shirts, pants and outerwear that look and play smart. It trickles down all the way to details few will even see, such as the phrase “United We Stand” printed inside the waistband of all the trousers and the American flag displayed on the back side of the buckles on players’ belts.
Suffice it to say, the members of the U.S. team will have something for everything the Minnesota weather might throw at them (which really could be a little bit of everything!). Given the locale, officials at Ralph Lauren were particularly conscious of the need for proper layering. It’s why the collection includes, among other things, compression crewnecks and pants, merino crewneck sweaters, pullover windbreakers and packable down jackets, along with seam-sealed waterproof rain suits.
Among my favorites pieces is a stars-and-stripes tonal navy camo half-zip pullover that I’m predicting will be a go-to for many players.
What you’ll notice that’s different from past outfits is, ironically, something so subtle many might not actually notice it at all: the stylish use of patriotic logos and graphics. On the bottom of the pants you’ll find the letters USA. Down the sleeves of various shirts and outerwear you’ll see accent stars. There’s a American flag on the back yoke of some shirts. The evolution of this part of the design process is intriguing if only because of how artfully it’s been handled.
A few backstories to note:
• The Davis Love III influence can be found in the navy four-way stretch full-zip jacket. You might remember that when Love won the 2003 Players Championship, he wore a similar looking jacket in early week rain that he wouldn’t take off when the weather got better because he was playing so well. It’s no surprise to see this in the Ryder Cup wardrobe. The 2016 version has modern fabrication, but it’s still the old standby.
• Ralph Lauren will have a pair of tailors on-site at Hazeltine (just as they did at the Olympics in Rio) to help fine-tune all the apparel for each of the players. While the clothes aren’t technically custom-tailored, but the specialists can alter anything needed to make sure the fit matches the performance.
• Besides the on-course gear, Ralph Lauren also created the outfits that will be worn at the Gala Welcome Dinner and the Opening Ceremony. At the former, players will wear navy suits with matching solid ties, white shirts and pocket squares. At the latter, they’ll wear classic navy doeskin blazers and grey trousers while the captains will have grey rope-stripe suits.
This year is the first in which the exact replica of the uniforms will be available to the public, both in the merchandise shop at Hazeltine and online at RalphLauren.com and shop.pga.com. A portion of the proceeds from the sales will go back to the PGA of America’s sections for various grow-the-game initiatives.
Tuesday: Pure White, French Navy and RL Red Yarn Dyed Airflow Short Sleeve Knit Collar Shirt with French Navy Matte Tech Gab Pant.
Wednesday: French Navy Engineered Micro Poly Jacquard Knit Collar Shirt with French Navy Matte Tech Gab Pant.
Thursday: French Navy, Pure White, Sapphire Star and RL Red Yarn Dyed Performance Pique Knit Collar Shirt with French Navy Matte Tech Gab Pant.
RL Red Pieced Dyed Light Weight with Airflow Knit Collar Shirt with French Navy Pin Stripe Tollegno Light Weight Stretch Tropical Wool Pant. Layering Piece; French Navy with RL Red Jersey Stich and Merino Wool Sleeve Stripe Crew Neck Sweater.
French Navy and RL Red Yarn Dyed Light Weight Tech Pique Knit Collar Shirt with Pure White Matte Tech Gab Pant. Layering Piece; French Navy Jersey Stitch Combed Cotton Thermocool Half- Zip Sweater.
French Navy and Pure White Pieced Light Weight Airflow Jersey Knit Collar Shirt with French Navy Matte Tech Gab Pant. Layering Piece; Pure White and French Navy Jersey Stich Combed Cotton Thermocool Crew Neck Sweater.