Yesterday, to the tune of a million contented sighs from sofas across the nation, men’s golf became one of the first sports to return to live broadcast TV. The afternoon saw PGA Tour stars Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy pair off against Rickie Fowler and up-and-comer Matthew Wolff in a socially distanced skins match, presented by TaylorMade, that collected money for COVID-19 relief. Johnson and McIlroy played for the American Nurses Foundation; Fowler and Wolff for the CDC Foundation. In all, the event raised over $5.5 million—and provided a shockingly normal afternoon of television. (And it won’t be the last event of its kind: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will tee off for charity this coming weekend.)
The whole thing—and I watched from start to finish—was oddly thrilling. The production had an almost DIY feel (the PGA Tour’s CEO, Seth Waugh, had promised nothing less than the “Blair Witch Project of golf”). Grackle birds and audio glitches could be heard, while crowd cheers could not—as of course, nobody was there. President Trump called in. Seminole, the Juno Beach, Florida course looked pristine. But most compelling were the players themselves, semi-fresh out of isolation. Notably, all wore shorts—in professional play, tour players must wear pants, so this was new. Some had exaggerated facial hair. Yet nothing was quite so noticeable as Wolff’s tie-dyed, social-media frenzying Nike shoes.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing Wolff before all of this: while McIlroy, Johnson and Fowler are among golf’s biggest current celebrities, Wolff is more of an up-and-comer. In 2019, the Californian-turned-Floridian won the NCAA Division 1 Championship (he attended Oklahoma State, where Fowler also went), and later that year, he took home his first PGA Tour victory at the 3M Open. And over the past 24 hours, his profile has gone up significantly—in large part due to his wardrobe selections at Seminole.
As a few online aptly noted, Wolff’s look had a Matt Dillon in There’s Something About Mary-vibe. He had the elongated, down the smile-line mustache. He had the animal-head golf cover. And he wore a pair of all-over tie-dyed Nike Roshe G’s—a footwear flex that, sadly, cannot yet be purchased.
“I’m very open to wearing things that might not be considered so traditional in golf,” Wolff said over the phone from Jupiter, Florida, where he currently lives. “As soon as I landed on the tour, I started to speak with [one of my sponsors, Nike]. I wear bright things. I always talk to them about wearing, like, teal pants, or putting patterns on new items, and making the look more fun.” He doesn’t have a favorite color (Fowler, for example, wears orange for Oklahoma State on the final day of a tournament, and Tiger Woods wears red on Sundays). Instead, Wolff explained, he’s not afraid to go for splashier impacts. “I am definitely not one to shy away from wearing anything that draws attention.”