Few things make a golfer feel spiffier than a crisp pair of pants. Almost all golfers anywhere wear some sort of collared shirt, but a pair of pants is a direct nod to the guys who play for a living. There are still a few clubs that require boys and men to wear them - 2023 U.S. Open host Los Angeles Country Club, for one.
Living in Florida, my pants-wearing season is relatively short, but this time of year, when the humidity comes down, I will break 'em out on occasion, especially if I get invited to an upscale course.
What makes a good pair of golf pants, anyway? I've got six important criteria:
1) They're attractive.
Look good, play good, right? With all due respect to John Daly, I'm not generally into pants that compete with shirts for loudness of patterns. I find that tends to limit my shirt options more than I'd like.
2) They're weather-appropriate.
Not all golfers resort to pants only when it's too cold for shorts, so a good pair will be somewhat tailored to a specific weather expectations. Lightweight pants will keep you cool, while some brands go a little heftier with their material for when temperatures call for it. I will say that on super-cold days, I'll opt for my Galway Bay all-weather pants, even if it's not rainy.
3) They're comfortable.
Pants have come a long way in the comfort department in recent years; every golf-specific pant I've found has some degree of stretch in its fabric. Some brands feel almost like sweatpants despite looking like dress pants.
4) They're durable.
I like clothes that last, and unfortunately, golf clothes have tended to be less and less durable in recent years. I'm most interested in the exceptions to this rule.
5) They're well-priced.
There's a difference between "well-priced" and simply "inexpensive." I don't mind paying a bit more for something that, to the point above, will treat me well for a while. With many brands surpassing $100 for a pair of pants, budget-conscious consumers want to know they're getting bang for their buck.
6) They're easy to care for.
If you derive pleasure from ironing your golf pants after they've been hung to dry for several hours, more power to you. I see low-maintenance care as a function of good design.
10 golf pants brands for a range of budgets
Golf pants under $60
If there's an outlet mall near you, chances are there are multiple stores with reasonably priced golf pants that you might enjoy. That said, my own experience tells me that going for the lowest-priced pants can often be a gamble, though even budget-oriented brands' materials have improved in recent years.
Amazon makes golf pants, which sell for just under $33 a pair and have decent reviews though some customers seem to believe the pants are better suited to work than the golf course.
Haggar has been a source of value-oriented golf duds for years, and what their Cool 18 Pro pants ($39.99) may lack in fashion-forwardness or brand cachet, they make up in right pricing.
Another staple of department stores, IZOD has been through a bit of an odyssey, but it's still a viable midrange golf choice. Now owned by Authentic Brands Group (which owns the likes of Brooks Brothers and HartSchaffnerMarx and recently purchased Reebok), its Swingflex golf pants ($49) are available through Kohl's and other clothing retailers.
Golf pants from $60 to $100
Nike, whose professional golfers are most recognizable for their lack of any other branding, offers its slim-fit five-pocket Flex pants ($85), which bring plenty of softness and stretch in their fabric.
Peruse Instagram and you're bound to find a long list of direct-to-consumer companies competing for your apparel budget. All TAYLRD makes is bottoms, with both their 5-pocket and chino pants ($89) modified by only the word "Tech" to emphasize the moisture-wicking and stain-resistant properties of their products, perhaps as well as the brand's digitally-native background.
Temperature management has long been a hallmark of Under Armour's apparel. Even after several years, one of their ColdGear base layers remains an essential part of my wardrobe on the chilliest golf days. The Baltimore-based brand makes ColdGear pants ($95), too, which also have a water-repellent coating, for days when keeping warm is the main priority. On the flip side, they also make a pant with their cool-to-the-touch Iso-Chill fabric ($90).
The self-proclaimed "best technical bottom in golf" goes to Dunning, with a proprietary fabric blend that includes LYCRA and their own COOLMAX material. Their Player Fit Woven Pant ($99) comes in seven colors and a broad range of sizes.
Golf pants over $100
Vineyard Vines, a lifestyle brand based on the East Coast, has made inroads with the country club sports of golf and lacrosse with its vibrant colors, preppy styles and lovable whale logo. Its performance On-The-Go Pants and On-The-Go 5-Pocket Pants are stretchy, light and breathable. Both styles ($125) are water-resistant with flexible waistlines, so that spilled beer or extra hot dog won't ruin your round. Some of the shades like Jetty Red and Flats Blue would make Ian Poulter blush.
TravisMathew, owned by Callaway Golf, continues to put out trendy golf apparel with a bit of a Californian vibe. Their 5-pocket Open to Close pants ($125) are upmarket but combine lightweight, stretchy material with solid construction and comfy fit. They're special-occasion-golf-course-worthy trousers.
Started as a yoga wear brand, Lululemon short and pants now reside in thousands of golfers' closets, too. Their ABC pants ($128) are on the spendier side, but they are available in almost any width/inseam combination imaginable and their fans are legion.