Cool Golf Things, Limited Edition: This hat clip/ball marker combo symbolizes golf's latest fashion trend

Armed with creative marketing and distribution tactics, brands like SNAPS challenge golf's commercial traditions.

It's a small and relatively novel item, but it's representative of some long-overdue growth in golf.

My go-to ball marker is a Bicentennial Eisenhower dollar. I keep it in my pocket. The new SNAPS hat-clip accessory/golf ball marker I was recently sent is a little different than what I and other "traditional" golfers would typically use, but I take it as a welcome sign of golf's ongoing cultural evolution.

Golf fashion has expanded in unexpected ways in recent years. The longtime partnership between Tiger Woods and Nike helped bring an athletic side to golf attire that it could never seriously sell before. Go to a public golf course now and you're much more likely to see Gen-X and younger golfers, as well as many of the older set, in slim-fit shirts made with contemporary moisture-wicking, polyester-forward athletic fabrics than the baggier, heavy cotton blend silhouettes of yesteryear.

The next chapter in the game's aesthetic history is being drafted, and that's where SNAPS and other brands fit in. SNAPS started in 2017 and ultimately has more in common with streetwear sensation Supreme than Titleist or Callaway. Its bread-and-butter is leather-and-metal clips that attach to the back of a baseball cap, adding a jolt of color and shine as well as some potential to signify sports fandom. They offer clips licensed and branded with each NBA franchise. Football fans can rep the names and jersey numbers of stars like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield, too. SNAPS' other clips are more in the mode of straight-ahead fashion accessories, and include styles for less than $30 and others with choicer materials like ostrich leather and push the price tag higher.

Like other streetwear brands, SNAPS also offers limited-run items at a more premium price. The Supremes of the world understand the power of a "SOLD OUT" sign as an advertisement for future products and cleverly turn scarcity into a light to which consumers flock like moths.

The brand's aforementioned foray into golf might seem a little incongruous, but since the ball marker clips became available earlier this year, they have sold well and the company is planning to expand the offering beyond the initial black/gold and white/silver styles, currently available for $34.99 each and equipped with a coin-style ball marker (which can be replaced with any similar-sized magnetic marker) emblazoned with SNAPS' logo, a greater-than symbol.

That symbol also points to a supplemental mission, aside from selling their widgets. SNAPS recently started the >Greater Than Initiative>, which diverts proceeds from select products to causes that support social justice. Their first such item, a clip with the bluntly unequivocal message "F*** RACISM," benefits the Los Angeles-based Dignity and Power Now, which advocates for criminal justice system reforms. This dual purpose - commerce, plus support for causes important to their clientele - is another hallmark of these brands that are making inroads in golf.

"It’s important to be more than a good product or a cool brand. We all belong to larger communities and it’s up to us to help make them better," said SNAPS CEO Matt Eldridge. "Ultimately, our product is a way to make statements enabling you to express your style, your beliefs or your mood, and to connect with members of your tribe. We have this platform and we want to use it to do good."

Many other golf brands are taking similar hints from previously unexplored corners of the greater culture in order to push their products and develop a loyal following.

Authenticity, Instagram and widening golf's appeal

More than any other social medium, Instagram has become fertile ground for both golf-native brands and those looking to add golfers to their pool of customers. The photo-driven nature of the app pairs perfectly with the need to establish a clear and attractive aesthetic. Instagram's native ad and commerce platforms dovetail nicely here as well, adding value tools to any nascent brand's kit.

Seamus is a perfect example of a golf brand that used Instagram to generate early momentum and maintains a significant presence there. Their artisanal, hand-crafted headcovers began appearing in 2012; more than 2,000 posts and 45,000 followers later, they are a trusted source for quality products that accessorize the life of the avid golfer. Collaborations with Nike and the presence of their merchandise at resorts like Bandon Dunes and in spaces like USGA championship mechandise tents have provided valuable visibility. Still, Founders Akbar and Megan Chisti have maintained the authenticity of their original, eye-catching work while scaling up.

Instagram has also served as a catalyst for turning a friend group into a commercial brand. That's been the arc of Sugarloaf Social Club, which started as a way for friends graduating from college to remain connected via their shared love of golf. It became a club-without-a-course, and is now also a clothing brand whose limited releases pop up and often quickly sell out within their Sugarloaf Swag site.

Whereas Seamus and Sugarloaf sell more traditional-looking golf accessories and apparel via modern techniques, brands like Los Angeles-based Malbon Golf seek to infuse the game with some of the aesthetics that underpin streetwear. Their look juxtaposes retro-golf, casual Californian street style and a bit of cheek. Per their website, Malbon's goal is "to inspire today’s youth to participate in the greatest game on Earth." It's understandable that more traditional (read: older) golfers might not find the apparel entirely appealing, but the inspiration Malbon takes from the mid-20th century (they love to post about Arnold Palmer on Instagram) does complicate the narrative that young golfers today are all about breaking all entrenched fashion conventions.

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These brands and many others are part of golf's ongoing gradual assimilation into the greater cultural fabric. Aesthetics are just part of golf's long-term challenges, but seeing some new approaches to what constitutes not just appropriate but outright stylish golf duds - from the print of your polo shirt to your new back-of-cap ball marker clip - makes the game seem more welcoming. Nothing is cooler than that.

More: Check out these fashion-/style-related Cool Golf Things

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
31 Comments
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There was a commercial for some golf company a good 10 years ago (think it was Titleist). These dyed-in-the-wool types in their "stuff" yucking it up at a tee box when a kid with beat up, untied shoes and a bag of hand-me-down clubs over his shoulder walks up and laces his drive 275 down the middle of the fairway. Shuts up the putzes. I see stuff like this as the guys the kid schooled.

This is just junk. Decorations. Been around long enough to know that the guy who brags about his head covers, does so because that is all he can brag about. Only a weak person cares who made they shirt they wear on the course or what cool stuff is tacked to your bag. Can you play? OK, lets play. Anything else is just window dressing.

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I hate to be negative to anyone trying to make it in this difficult industry but SNAPS logo is weak and the concept is completely unnecessary and overpriced. Get a Pitch Fix, it's fun to use, sub your favorite ball marker, now you have 2 useful tools in 1. Sugarloaf is cool as is Sugarloaf Mtn in Maine. Malbon is rich guy stuff, which I will never support. $200 for a sweatshirt GFY! I can play 4 rounds at the best muni in the area for that price.

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I think it’s cool.

Commented on

Golf seems to be the last gentleman’s game left. Etiquette, sportsmanship, honesty, comraderie, and dress codes make, in my opinion, Golf the ultimate gentleman’s game. We dont need to make the game lesser, by street style dress or reckless behavior. It’s you against the course and when you are with friends and a good shot is made, congratulations are in order. We play it to enjoy the challenge, you against the course. Don’t lessen Golf with shabbiness.

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I do believe collarless shirts should be allowed on golf courses. Neither do I have a problem w/ hats being turned backwards. Golf should be fun for all of us. It’s not our day job. Too many restrictions keep many from trying it! Just remember to treat the golf course like your car and home. 👍

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One more sign of the deterioration of society. $30 for this crap? Give me a break. Backwards hats? Idiots. Purpose of the hat is for shading your eyes from glare. When ever I see some lowlife jerk with there hat on backwards, I get the overwhelming urge to bitch shape them. More worried that golf has been crippled by a-hole out of touch politicians like King Murphy in NJ and King Cuomo the second in NY. They killed the golf and restaurant businesses, among others, needlessly, while murdering senior Citizens by sending infected folks back to nursing homes. Masks and social distancing could not be easier than on a golf course. Well their millionaire developer buddies are thrilled. With all the courses closing, they can rape the open space and build even more low income housing.

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It's a shame that golf has suffered in the northeast. Here in NC, I used to be able to "walk-on" most local courses as a single. Not anymore. The Covid situation has packed local courses. They're making money hand over fist, and you have to make a tee time well in advance. Add to that the folks that have never held a club in their hands jamming the courses and bringing pace of play to a snail's pace, .... count your stars that you can't play up there........

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If you want to dress like a clown, go ahead. As long as you have enough cash to pay up at the end of the round, wear whatever ridiculous outfit you want to wear (as long as the course/club allows it). Now, the gray jumpsuit, looks like a caddie outfit to me.
When it comes to music, I don't care as long as you are not blaring it out where I can hear it on the tee box or when I am hitting my shots. If I can, I will simply tell you to turn it down. If you refuse...well that is when the real problem will arise.

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At 75 I am no inclined to criticize the attire and gadgets of the following generations. I wear a Garmin S20. My golf shirts and shorts are all made of synthetics. Some of my socks are made of bamboo. I think well designed and well fitting attire seem to endure with only modest variations. New gadgets are just gadgets for the next generation. They also will endure by their effectiveness or fade if they bring nothing better or new to your game. So, if you access to something new - try it. If it fits, enables your game or makes the easier...use it. IF I am still around when it gets popular, maybe I'll look at it...whatever IT is.

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I learned how to be a gentleman on the golf course. Not speaking while other players are playing, standing out of other players way or line, these lessons are not unique to any person in society . Music on the course should be in the ears of the listener, not for everyone on the fairway. Dress and conduct are still considered important to
me while playing golf. . Don’t like it, and this stuff happens from the munis to the most prestigious clubs.

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Fashion, music, and approach constantly change... why would anyone else care if someone is dressed differently or wears a hat backwards... how does that affect your game? It doesn’t.... you are just angry I’m the guy that shows up in Jordan’s with loud socks and casual wear and Still spanks you.😂😂😂 grow up....cloaking your racism with “oh what about etiquette and tradition” is a cop out... I’ll continue playing my music minding my business, wearing what I want and taking your money 😂

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Part of the attraction of golf is being out in nature. So that each player can enjoy that experience in his or her own way, leave the music to your headphones/earbuds. Your taste in music may be entirely different from mine.

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Cool Golf Things, Limited Edition: This hat clip/ball marker combo symbolizes golf's latest fashion trend