Graphic by K8 Strassman

Momentum for Golfcore Changing The Game

It’s Masters weekend, making golf top of mind for many… What’s not yet in the mainstream? The way golf apparel is getting streetwearified. This emerging trend, also known as Golfcore (Golf x Streetwear), is heightening the heritage of golf and making golf accessible / relatable to a new & more diverse demographic.

With early / emerging trends like Golfcore (Golf x Streetwear), we break down its momentum in terms of Mass (awareness + reach) and Velocity (engagement + polarization).

We know a trend / movement like Golfcore (Golf x Streetwear) is about to take off when its velocity is surging. Golfcore’s velocity is up from 27 in April 2020 to 48 in April 2021. It has yet to achieve mass.

Decode_M Proprietary Momentum Data

Why is velocity important? Velocity measures the passion, intensity, and engagement of a movement. When it is on the rise, it is an early indicator it will expand to the masses and achieve momentum and cultural relevance.

Golfcore (Golf x streetwear), started by a niche group of streetwear designers and culture creators like Tyler, the Creator, and Macklemore, Malbon, and G/FORE, is disrupting the mindset towards golf and adding a new twist to the traditional attire. Think bright colors, bucket hats, hoodies, Jordans, and joggers. It’s far from what you’ve traditionally seen on the golf course, from a diverse crowd you might not expect to embrace the game.

Why does Golfcore have velocity now? Quarantine gave golf a positive boost — its momentum surged from 52 in April 2020 to 71 in May 2020. It was one of the few socially distanced outdoor activities we could safely do. The National Golf Foundation and Golf Datatech found that 2020 saw an approximate 12-percent increase in rounds played in the United States over 2019’s total, equal to an increase of 50 million rounds. That influx brought new players and new ideas to the game. We haven’t seen a disruption to the golf community this big since Tiger Woods came on the scene.

THE TAKEAWAY

Golfcore is having an impact beyond fashion and street style. It is inspiring a broader group of people to embrace and play the sport. Once the domain of elite, old school, and uptight country clubbers — the Caddyshack mindset of “some people just don’t belong” — the golf community is evolving to welcome outsiders, rebels, and a new generation of golf players.

To engage the newcomers and sustain the growth experienced in 2020, Clubs are listening to what customersr want. They are now starting to loosen up — getting rid of dress code and allowing players to play music from their golf cart is just the start.

How do traditional brands in the industry react to this emerging force? When you identify a movement with velocity that has not yet achieved mass, act on it. You have an opportunity to be an early adopter of the movement and show the audience you get it.

Brands can stay true and authentic to their heritage while embracing this modern twist.

The Decode

Curious about who’s driving this velocity? In this week’s Up & Down, we decode the brands and personalities that are bringing a cool edge to golf’s “once-stuffy style,” and what this means for the sport at large.

DISRUPTION: Golfcore is flipping the mindset & perception of “golf outsiders” on its head.

Golfcore’s anti-country club, anti-establishment, rebellious approach to golf attire is broadening the types of people who take up the game.

For the first time… golf apparel doesn’t feel like golf apparel. People can go to the “club,” board a flight, or have dinner wearing Golfcore.

INNOVATION: In a chicken vs. egg twist, golf pros are starting to adopt the street style and the “look good, play good” mindset. They are ditching their classic polos and boring sneaks for a more personalized and fresh style.

Ahead of the Masters Tournament’s start on April 8, Bubba Watson — former two-time Masters champion who won the event in 2012 and 2014 — revealed a new Air Jordan 4 Golf PE. Watson has been known to wear special Jordan Brand shoes during the PGA Tour’s most prestigious tournaments and is a clear subscriber to the “look good, play good” mindset.

Brooks Koepka is also known to step into the world of sneakers wearing a pair of unreleased Off-White x Nike Air Max 90 golf shoes during the Tour Championship.Patrick Reed, who just signed a new deal with CBD brand cbdMD, is known for recently dropping Nike Golf so he can wear G/FORE — a brand rooted in tradition with a modern twist.

POLARIZATION: To hoodie or not to hoodie? The golf world is torn. With change comes resistance. Some traditional players / people within the golf community accept the Golfcore movement. Others find it disrespectful.

Golf is a game built on tradition. It is a sport defined by respect and rules of etiquette that span attire, behavior and care for the course. During a culture-shifting year like 2020, these norms were challenged with the goal of bringing change to golf.

STICKINESS: In the process of streetwearifying golf attire, designers are actually paying homage to Golf’s sticky heritage.

Golf is an enduring sport that is seeing a style renaissance. The most defining element of Golfcore is that everyone can have their own interpretation of it. You no longer have to “dress like a golfer” — your look can be more personalized.

As defined by Nylon Magazine: Golfcore is not quite tennis-chic, and it’s not fully Larry David at the country club. It’s about finding a muse in the individuals who’ve defined the sport, merged with the fact that the game itself is undergoing a transition for a younger generation.

SOCIAL IMPACT: You no longer have to join the country club to be part of the golf community.

This shift in culture is ultimately positive for the golf community and industry on the whole — evolving to include more people from different walks of life.

ON THE DOWN: Playing by the rules.

Momentum Maker, Author of Maximum Momentum, Founder & CEO of Decode_M