Why Do Golfers Wear Hats?

Introduction

Turn on the TV to watch any professional golf event and almost every single player will be wearing a hat. Indeed even some of the caddies will be wearing a hat.

To be blunt and to save you time the biggest reason that professional golfers wear hats is that they are paid to.

To find out some of the other reasons you’re going to need to read the rest of this article.

Sponsorship

The biggest single reason golf professionals wear hats is that it is part of the contract they have with their club sponsor.

Manufacturers have been known to pay large sums to players to use their equipment. Part of the deal involves splashing the manufacturer’s name and often model number of some of their equipment on a hat that the player is obliged to wear.

It is similar to Formula One for example where the driver’s overalls and caps are plastered with advertising. Indeed most sports these days have advertising in prominent places on clothing worn by participants.

The commercial reality is that such a prominent position for advertising is not going to be ignored. Nike paid Rory McIlroy approximately $10 million per year for his club and clothing contract. Is it any surprise that Rory was expected to wear a hat emblazoned with the Nike logo during tournament play and in after-round interviews?

Companies need massive amounts of exposure in order to justify paying sponsorship contracts. The biggest earners will generally be those who get the most TV time.

Robert Rock is one of the few professionals who tended to go hatless, this would have meant a lower-paying club deal. Although he eventually caved in 2016 and started wearing a flat cap with ValueLicensing being the sponsor.

Why do golfers wear hats
Nice new Titleist cap to start the season!

In fact, even a number of caddies have started receiving compensation for wearing golf hats featuring a company logo.

An article in Forbes suggests that caddies working for players such as Woods, Mickelson and McIlroy could be earning more than $200,000 per annum.

Other top players caddies could be raking in between $30,000 and $50,000 from endorsements.

Caddies for players outside the top 30 however are only likely to make between $5000 and $10,000 per year.

Steve Williams who was the caddy to Woods for many years had a 10-year endorsement with Valvoline. It was undoubtedly very lucrative despite him being fined a number of times by the tour.

Since 2020 paid endorsement is now an option available for caddies on the European Tour as well. With a lot less money sloshing around the European Tour than the PGA Tour it will mean any payouts will be much lower. If your player isn’t earning much then you’ll be surviving on base pay so even a small amount of endorsement money would make a big difference.

Ironically the original hat sponsorship wasn’t by a golf manufacturer at all. Amana, an American household appliance company offered $50 to any pro who was willing to wear a hat with their logo over the four days of the tournament. This was the 60s though!

Protection from the Sun

Golf professionals tend to play golf in the best weather. The tours arrange tournaments during the warmer, sunnier months in whatever country they happen to be visiting. If you’re also lucky enough to be playing a lot of golf in hot sunny weather then you need to give headwear some consideration. Start wearing some form of hat to give you protection from the sun.

The NHS website suggests wearing a wide-brimmed hat if you go outside during hot sunny weather. Unfortunately the vast majority of golfers these days tend to wear baseball caps irrespective of the conditions. These provide fewer benefits than a wide-brimmed hat which will protect a much larger portion of your head. Once you realize this you may ask why do golfers wear caps? Well, I think the simplest answer is that amateurs are copying their heroes on TV.

The NHS also suggests avoiding going out between 11 AM and 3 PM on hot days. Of course, as golfers, we do have a tendency to ignore this, if it`s a competition then we have no choice!

Spending a lot of time outside playing golf in the sun without any form of protection either from sunscreen or a hat is likely to cause damage to your skin. Although not necessarily in the ways many people think.

A hat is also a good way to protect the top of your head if you’re getting a little thin on top, like me!

beanie
Keep your head warm!

Keep Warm

Conversely, you may need a hat at certain times of the year to keep warm. In this case, we are talking about some sort of beanie. Those of a certain vintage might buy a bobble hat. In the UK it doesn’t mean just the winter either!

It’s actually a bit of a myth that you lose most of your heat from your head. Even so, if you’re playing in cold weather you should try and keep your head warm along with the rest of your body.

In fact, on really cold days I’ve even resorted to wearing two hats. Maybe I need one really well-insulated hat!

Improve Your Vision

Some people like to wear a cap or hat in order to shield their eyes from the sun so that they can make out their target better. This was never a particular problem for me as we rarely get enough sunny days in the UK. If you play in sunnier climes though, a brimmed hat should help to shield your eyes from the sun to help you follow your ball flight.

My opinion has changed since I started needing glasses. I find wearing a cap stops any light from getting in from above making it much easier for me to see what I need to see. Although reading up on this subject makes me believe I would be better off with a wide-brimmed hat for the summer.

My experience would suggest if you wear sunglasses then you would need some form of a brimmed hat.

Fashion

The more fashion-conscious among you might wear a hat as a statement. For example for a number of years, the UK has been home to an amateur tour called the Trilby Tour. Sponsored by a famous Saville Row tailor, William Hunt. In order to play in these tournaments, you are expected to wear amongst other things a trilby.

I don’t think a trilby in reality offers any benefits in terms of protection from the sun as any brim is smaller than the brim you have on a baseball cap. It’s also extremely unlikely to keep you warm should you be playing in cold weather!

Some players will also just tend to play the same clubs and wear the clothing of their favorite players. So if you’re a big fan of Tiger or Rory you’re likely to be strutting the fairways in Nike golf caps.

More recently Bryson Dechambeau has been trying to reintroduce the flat cap. This would have been a very popular style of hat at one time but is probably seen by most people today as a bit of an old man’s option.

TaylorMade open 2006
TaylorMade cap from the Open Championship in 2006

Memorabilia and Allegience

Walk into a golf shop at a top-end course and you will see an enormous range of caps and other types of hats emblazoned with the golf club logo. The same at most big professional events. It is a great form of marketing as the vast majority of golfers have been conditioned into thinking that the baseball cap is a requirement to play golf. Buying one with the logo of a top club or tournament is a great way to remember your visit. It’s also a great way to tell everybody you meet on the golf course that you were there!

Masters branded caps, anyone?

Another reason for an amateur golfer to wear a hat is to show their allegiance to their club or if they play for a team.

Why do all golfers wear hats?

It might seem like every golfer wears some type of headgear these days. However, it’s not quite 100% yet.

Why Do Golfers Wear Hats?: Conclusion

So there you have it the reason why the majority of golf pros are wearing hats is purely financial.

For amateurs, the reasons will vary but probably many are just copying the guys they see on TV.

Flat cap
The classic flat cap

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]


Do you have to wear a hat while golfing?

There is no mandatory requirement to wear a hat whilst playing golf.

It comes down to personal preference and the weather conditions you are playing in.

Unless of course, you are a tournament professional who is contractually obliged.


Do any pro golfers not wear hats?

Robert Rock didn’t wear a hat for many years although has done so more recently.

I don’t recall Sir Nick Faldo being a great wearer of hats either.

In fact, many more players went hatless years ago.

With the endorsement deals available and the risk of skin damage being better understood few players these days play without a hat.


What hat do golfers wear?

The classic baseball style is still the most popular type of hat worn by golfers.

Other styles include the flat cap, bucket, beanie, bobble, panama and trilby.


Why do all golfers wear hats?

To the casual observer, it may appear that all golfers wear hats. Especially if you only view professional tournaments.

While it is true that an overwhelming majority of professionals wear hats, this is mainly due to the sponsorship money available.

Outside the professional game, you will find a much higher percentage of people that don’t wear any form of headgear.

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