As Doug Sanders goes, so goes a box of crayons. That is not the newest saying on the professional golf tour, but it is one that is likely to endure. From his shoelaces right up to the tee he sticks behind his ear, Sanders is splashed with the brightest colors in the sport. The question most often asked about him in the galleries now is not how many strokes under par is he, but what, oh what, is he wearing today?
For many years the touring professionals have set the styles for the seven million or so pleasure golfers in the U.S.—a group that makes golf apparel a multimillion-dollar business. When Harry Vardon played in a tweed coat and cap, so did everyone in this country. When Bobby Jones ruled the '20s bareheaded and in knickers, the recreational golfer would rather have shanked every iron shot than be seen in slacks or a hat.
Then came the '30s and '40s and Jimmy Demaret. He was the first pro to introduce flamboyant colors in his slacks, shoes and shirts. He was, you might say, an early-day Sanders. Golf never really lost the influence of Demaret, but through the late '40s and early '50s it was toned down considerably by Ben Hogan, whose perpetual success drew attention to his conservative dress, to his grays and browns topped by the ever-present white cap.
Between Hogan and Sanders, the pros have played through several clothing fads—baseball-type caps, beltless slacks, alpaca sweaters, alligator shoes and more varieties of knit shirts than there are ways to hit into a water hazard. But now comes Doug Sanders, displaying his reds and greens and blues and tangerines, to lead a hearty new charge toward sprightly attire. At the Masters a week ago he was his own color spectacular as he wore the three outfits at left, plus an emerald-green ensemble that looked lusher than Augusta's grass. Even his fellow competitors there were thinking about Doug's outfits. Bruce Devlin, learning that he would play with Sanders on the second day of the Masters, said, "I hope he wears green. I've got a green sweater that will open his eyes." But Sanders outguessed Devlin by wearing blue and white.
April 24, 1966
Sanders undoubtedly has more clothes than any other pro on the tour, and he devotes more time to considering exactly what he will wear than do his contemporaries. For one thing, he travels with a valet named Rico Reveron, who lays out his slacks, shirts and sweaters the evening before his next round. Not only that, Reveron also caddies for him (where it is permitted), drives his car to distant points (last week Rico and the car were in Dallas, where a telephone and stereo set were being installed in the vehicle while Doug was in Las Vegas) and does other odd jobs. If Sanders does not like the color schemes Rico has suggested, he changes them, grabs a handful of tees to match, plus a complementing golf glove, and sprints off to the tournaments that have become his own private show windows.
"The manufacturing companies have been very helpful in sending each other swatches so that my colors can be coordinated," says Sanders, sounding more like a designer than the tour's leading money winner—$69,257 so far this year. His golf shoes, all 50 pairs of them, are furnished by the Stylist Golf Shoe Company of Brockton, Mass. He prefers patent-leather shoes, because they have a deeper luster, even though they may not last as long. Stylist has 20 fall colors and 18 spring colors in stock, including such whimsical hues as Plum Beautiful, Tangerine Orange, Persian Copper, Crushed Grape, Beau Blue and the Red Sail you see on the left. Though Sanders gets them free, the ordinary consumer will pay as much as $65 a pair for them. Stylist is now working on an iridescent shoe that will shimmer in four or five colors, and one can only assume that Sanders will wear it first.
As for Sanders' slacks, they are actually as functional as they are fashionable. They are slim and cuffless. Therefore they do not flap in the wind, and they do not collect grass and sand, as cuffed trousers do.
The Sanders wardrobe is strewn across the land, partly because a freight train would be needed to move it. He has clothes by the closetful in Dallas, Ojai, Calif., Los Angeles and at home in Georgia, and he estimates he owns 50 pairs of slacks.
Sanders has also been a leader in the trend toward the mock turtle shirt, which has either long or short sleeves and comes in everything from cotton to cashmere. The most typical view of Doug is the one at the lower left of the opposite page. There he wears what he considers his basic color, white, with Key Largo Blue shoes, Carolina Blue turtleneck sweater and white golf glove. He never wears a glove more than once—which means he goes through about 300 a year.
"I appreciate being regarded by many people as the world's best-dressed golfer, and I consider my affiliation with some companies as a selling job," says Sanders. "If I see a color I like that is made by another firm, I'll buy the garment and then send it to my own companies and see if they can duplicate it for me."
Sanders hopes to carry his penchant for colors even further. He is working on a deal with a golf-bag company to make a special white—Sanders White?—bag for him with a detachable pocket, so that each day he can have a pocket to match his clothing.
"Arnold Palmer likes airplanes, and Jack Nicklaus likes boats," says Sanders. "I like clothes."