What do golfers wear who work in the clothing industry? It’s a topic destined to become a regular series here.
We debut with Bill Thomas, who launched his company Bills Khakis making traditionally cut cotton trousers here in the US — Reading, Pennsylvania, to be exact. The brand has expanded its offerings to just about every apparel category, and even carried in a couple dozen golf shops. With so much to choose from, we asked Thomas what he likes to wear on the links and here’s what he said.
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GS: Tell us about your golfing history. When did you learn, what clubs do you currently play, and at what courses?
BT: I was introduced to golf by my mother and father when I was about 8. Played in local junior tournaments and on high school and college teams. I was three-time Division III All-American at Denison University. My highwater mark was the summer of ’89 when thanks to a three-putt from 25 feet, I qualified as an alternate for the 1989 US Amateur at Merion. Unfortunately, no one got sick, broke a leg, or withdrew, so I watched Chris Patton win on TV.
As for equipment, I play Titleist AP2 irons, Titleist driver and hybrid, TaylorMade 3 wood, Cleveland wedges, and a Ping putter. We play nearby public courses. Several of them were once private, so quality and challenge is high. I play all my golf with my nine-year-old son. He keeps getting better while I’m getting worse. It’s fun to watch.
GS: As demonstrated in the above photo, the clothes you make are certainly at home on the golf course. Are there any Bills Khakis items or categories you think golfers should take a closer look at?
BT: Our poplin pants and shorts are ideal for golf, as are our seersucker, madras and island twills. These products are perfectly adapted for golf within the scope of 100%-natural fabrics. The same holds true for our Supima pique polo, which wicks and absorbs quickly. It’s incredibly durable and colorfast, too. The perfect golf shirt as is! Which reminds me of your recent post on Arnold Palmer wearing a navy polo with yellow poplin pants. Awesome photograph. You can pull this look together quickly with our poplin pants and a Supima polo.
GS: If you could design a golf collection (and hey, are you planning to?), what would you offer?
BT: The bones of it are there now, but I’d explore cotton-rich fabrications with a technical edge as a starting point.
GS: The saddle shoes in the photo are certainly a classic footwear choice, but do you really play sockless?
BT: I typically wear socks or peds depending on the time of year. My old brown leather saddle shoes are so comfortable, I can go without if I’m only playing a few holes in the evening. I wear FJ Classics as well as ECCO.
GS: Do you have any sartorial pet peeves?
BT: I don’t get too hung up over anything. Then again, I’m not crazy about people wearing their shirts out. There’s also a lot of polyester out there today. I’ve tried some shirts made from performance fabric and I don’t get it. It sticks to you. Natural fibers work better for me. My son is into the Rickie Fowler hats and garb. I’m humored by it because he’s only nine, and I’m convinced he’ll grow out of it. Plus, it’s taught him to tuck in his shirt! I’m not a stickler on wearing hats in the pro shop or locker room, but I do think guys should remove their hats when in the bar or grill room, unless they’ve made a hole-in-one that day. In that case, they’re not of sound mind and can do whatever they want.
GS: And what about among the pros?
BT: It’s a mixed bag. Some look great, others not. I’d really have to study it to determine who I think is best and worst dressed. As much as I don’t like the Ricky look, I completely respect his originality and trendsetting style. It’s one thing to look different (Payne Stewart/Jesper Parnevik), it’s another thing to get people into your look.