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Designers give boomers comfier outfits for golf


Kevin "Field of Dreams" Costner plays a pro golfer in the movie, "Tin Cup," but he carefully explains to interviewers, "This is not a 'golf movie,' it's a 'boy-girl movie.' "

Costner apparently believes if you build 18 holes of dreams, hardly anybody will come.

But golf has been growing in popularity as baby boomers, who used to jog, slow to a stroll or hitch a ride on a golf cart.

Clues of golf's gains are all around. Fashion houses like Liz Claiborne and Tommy Hilfiger are now creating lines of golf wear.

Publishers are churning out golf books, having no doubt noticed Harvey Penick's "Little Red Book," a tiny tome of golf wisdom from an old pro, became a runaway best seller a few years ago.

Earlier this month, Golf Digest sponsored a Golf Course Living Expo in Philadelphia, pitching homes in "golf communities." There is a Golf Channel on cable.

And Costner's movie is the second golf movie released this year. "Saturday Night Live" alum Adam Sandler starred as a hockey player who becomes a pro golfer in the earlier "Happy Gilmore."

According to Judy Thompson of the National Golf Foundation in Florida, there were about 17.5 million golfers in the United States in 1985, but the number jumped to 25 million by 1991 and has stayed there.

Golf movies have tended to reinforce the sport's image as a game for the wealthy, played at hugely expensive country clubs or resorts. But though an opportunity to tee off is not as easy to find as a basketball hoop, the game is more democratic than that.

Still, golf is not cheap. A recent Golf Foundation report frets that golf is becoming "less affordable to moderate-income groups." A significant number of the 1,900 courses built in the last five years have been targeted at people with incomes of $50,000 a year or more.

The boomers are changing the look of golf fashion. Mike Zackowski, assistant manager of the pro shop at Northampton Valley Golf and Country Club in Richboro, Pa., outside Philadelphia, says fewer guys are wearing red plaid slacks or bright yellow ones; they wear relax-fit chinos with their T-shirts. The women, Zackowski says, are more likely to wear an outfit, but even that is likely to be white slacks with matching top.

That means that unlike, say, bicycle racers, most golfers now dress like everybody else. And once it looks as if everybody is playing golf, we could get three golf movies a year.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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