It poured on the first day of the Kemper Open, but there were still plenty of plaids and polyesters underneath all those plastic raincoats at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda.
It is hard to find the trendies any day at a golf tournament. After all, who wants to traipse 18 holes in harem pants and copper shoes? But a rainy weekday still brought out the billboard colors, the bold plaids and the oversized golf umbrellas that trail the players over the full course.
There are dress guidelines for the competitors -- no denims, no shorts, no basic T-shirts -- and there are also restrictions for the caddies -- no short pants. But for the golf gallery gawkers, the rule is comfort and color. s
Jeans and corduroys make sense for a rainy day. (On sunny, hot days short shorts, T-shirts and tank tops are abundant, according to tournament regulars.) Rain or shine, there are lots of hats. Standard golfing hats -- with country club emblems on the front -- are the most popular, but the truckers cap, straws and Stetsons have their fanciers.
Alligator shirts are snapped up by golfers just as quickly as by tennis buffs, but at the Kemper, there were also many foxes, dragons and an occasional wart hog spotting the front of the shirts of the crowd. If there is a pet bright color, beyond the official red worn navy and white by the officials, it's leafy green, John Hafera, assistant golf pro at Congressional, thinks it is a spinoff of all the preppy looks around.
One player who passed on all the bright colors Thursday was Tom Watson, who outfitted himself head to toe in steel gray.
"I wear whatever feels good that day. If it is a dark day, I go to darker colors," he said, quickly checking to be sure he had worn one of the quieter colors in the Fila line he endorses.
Watson, by far the snappiest dresser of the golfers on Thursday, would not say if he made more money playing golf or endorsing products. One of the best items he puts his name to is a lightweight golf shoe with a composition sole by Dexter. Like most golfers, Watson is very hard on shoes, wearing them daily in damp as well as dry weather. He goes through about three pairs a season, he says.
Watson has picked up the fashion lingo of a design pro. "If something is cut slim it's got to have stretch," says Watson, who insists he has little to do with the actual design of his garments. Like his counterparts who make big bucks endorsing tennis clothes, Watson is conscious of colors that look good on television.
But Thursday, he was more worried about his game than his garb after he shot a one-over-par 71. "I didn't play particularly well today," he said wearily. But at least he was well-dressed for the occasion.