Why Wear Knickers? And More About Plus-Fours And Their Place In Golf

Many aspects of golf have changed a great deal in the last decade or so -- the increased distance of the golf ball, cutting-edge technology and materials in clubs and performance fabrics in golf apparel. But golf's history holds tremendous appeal for many players, and there's no doubt that seeing the occasional player in knickers and a old-fashioned cap can make you smile. Where did the tradition of wearing knickers to play golf come from?

History of Knickers

Knickers, a type of pant that buttons below the knee, have been popular for men and boys since the late 1800s. But they first became associated with sport in their incarnation as "plus fours" in the 1920s. The name refers to how many inches past the knee the knickers buttoned, and the extra length made it possible to blouse them out a bit for comfort and flexibility.

It just so happened that the 1920s were a time when golf pros first became somewhat distinctive in the public's imagination. Before this time, pros were considered little more than working-class folks; in the 20s, led by Walter Hagen, golf pros started to ascend to the status of celebrity athletes. Hagen was a very flamboyant man who refused to enter fancy clubhouses by the servant's entrance, as pros at the time generally did. His antics and domination of the sport earned golf more attention in the national media. And his clothing of choice? Plus fours.

Modern Use of Knickers

By the middle of the 1930s, the popularity of plus fours faded as walking shorts and trousers entered the scene. They continued to be worn occasionally by golfers wanted to hang on to the dapper look of the '20s, until they were adopted by professional Payne Stewart in the 1980s. Stewart became known for his cap and colorful knickers and even began to match his plus fours to the colors of the closest professional football team at tournaments. 

Stewart -- who some people don't even recognize without his knickers -- brought the pants back as a fashion statement until his death in a plane crash in 1999. 

Sometimes modern-day pros in the 2000s and 2010s wear plus fours, but often as a tribute to Stewart.

Why You Should Wear Knickers

Knickers aren't for everyone. But they can be a highly comfortable and stylish option for almost anyone at a big tournament or fun outing. They can help you stand out in a professional way.

Looking to find knickers for sale? A few manufacturers do still make them. Talk to your pro shop or your local sporting goods apparel store to find out about ordering a pair. 

To learn more, contact a company like The Golf Guys