Last week, Nike Golf unveiled their new initiative for the modern golfer and it was definitely an eye-opener. The two-day event in Los Angeles included a presentation featuring Nike Golf’s up-and-coming athletes as well as a trip to the Riviera Country Club to check out a practice round at the Northern Trust Open. As somebody who grew up watching the buttoned-up, argyle-wearing, ivy cap styles of the late 80s to the ultra baggy polos and pants that Tiger Woods got away with during his early run, seeing the fit evolve to athletic, slim and sleek was great to see.
As many people would argue, the style of golf has always catered to the older set and that doesn’t really appeal to the younger generation. Like, at all. It takes Nike randomly dropping a Jordan retro with golf spikes to get people in the sneaker community talking, but even if the shoes are there, the apparel just doesn’t match. It is something Nike has slowly tried to get on board with since their stable of golf athletes is skewing younger and last week’s unveiling was the first big step to that.
One of the first things that I got to see
because I came to the presentation early and totally walked in on stuff that I wasn’t supposed to see was the Nike MM Fly Blade Polo and Nike MM Fly Roll Polo. The shirt design feels like a modern polo that you would see at the mall, but the materials are definitely made for competition. But the biggest aesthetic changes comes in the form of the collar, which is a lot shorter and slimmer than what you’re used to seeing on the course. Trying them on for the first time, I agree with the sentiment that it didn’t feel like I was wearing a polo but rather a Nike shirt made for competition. Personally, I can’t see myself wearing the Hyperwarm tights because they’re just a bad fit for me, but for those who swear by it, I can’t wait to see the looks on PGA Tour officials when somebody tries to rock them on the course.
But that doesn’t mean that everything Nike had out there was just purely made with the world’s best golfers in mind. For hacks like myself who want to be able to keep it simple and wear the same thing we had on the course into the club house and maybe for a night out to dinner, Nike had several pieces that look straight out their Sportswear division, including possibly the greatest golf jacket I have ever seen. Dubbed the Enemies Of The Course collection, the print inside the jacket is so good, I would totally consider wearing it inside out like I was the Fresh Prince.
Of course, the highlight for us was the Nike Flyknit Chukka Golf. I admittedly was not a fan of the original Flyknit Chukka because it just felt too flimsy to ever be a viable piece of footwear so there was skepticism going in. As somebody who loves Flyknit Kobes in both high-cut and low-cut, the mid just didn’t make sense to me. And then there’s the precedent set by the Nike TW 15 with its Flyweave upper that featured that right level of comfort and support for my needs and it was a low-cut.
Walking around the Riviera in the Nike Flyknit Chukka Golf alleviated a lot of my fears the more time I got with them. First of all, the NikeSkin layer that you see wrapping around the bottom half of the upper is not only waterproof but also provides a level of support that simply isn’t there on a regular Chukka. Now I can’t speak for the shoe if it’s pouring rain, but it was smart on Nike’s part not to completely cover the upper in NikeSkin because that still allows the Flyknit to flexible and breathable on the top half. It’s a nitpick I had with the Kobe 9 and 10 in that they were not true Flyknit shoes; the Chukkas with NikeSkin gives us the best of both worlds.
As for the sole, it’s an evolution of Nike’s Free-inspired movement that started with again, Tiger’s shoes. But what makes this better and more suited for the casual player like myself is that I can easily wear this both on and off the course. With a post-round cleaning, they are basically Flyknit Chukkas with better support and perfect for the modern day sneakerhead who might wear slimmer pants or joggers with their kicks. I’ve even worn them to get my wisdom teeth removed and nobody wondered why I was wearing golf shoes.
My time at the Riviera was really like a dream come true. We got to walk around the course at a very leisurely place since it wasn’t open to the public and watch old mainstays like Vinjay Singh and Fred Couples do their thing on the range and on the course. I even got a chance to step inside the Nike Golf Tour Truck (no pictures inside sadly) which is where the Nike Golf athletes are able to make adjustments to their gear on the fly. Literally thousands of dollars worth of club heads, shafts and other gear can be found in that truck in all sorts of configurations designed to fit each player’s needs. I literally geeked out seeing the folder that was just marked “Tiger” nonchalantly as if he wasn’t the GOAT. And of course, the biggest kick I got was seeing tour pros, media types and people that work at the Riviera just flock to the free In-N-Out truck because there was free In-N-Out. Yeah, even though I’m surrounded by the best golfers in the world and Nike Golf is out there making a big statement, the world stops for In-N-Out. All is right in the world.