Superior Dress Superior Golfer

By Dr. T. J. Tomasi
Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

Researchers from Northwestern University suggest that in addition to your clothes saying something about you, they also say something “to you,” and it is in this way that your clothes can influence your golf performance. In the golf world, the prime-time example is, of course, Tiger Woods, who always wears a red shirt on Sunday-Red – pure, warrior-red, a color that Tiger-2000 wore (and still does) to broadcast how sure of himself he is that he will maul his Sunday opponents.

Be Well Read

So, it seems color makes a difference on its own. According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, women are more attracted to men in red than any other color – gives new meaning to my mother’s advice to be ‘well read.’

Golf Hack: The best way to stay bug-free on the golf course is to make yourself unattractive. No, I’m not suggesting you should dress like John Daly, but buzzing things like mosquitoes and bees are enamored with one aspect of the way you dress – the color of your clothes – and bugs love red most of all. But if you must wear your flame red shirt like Tiger, try a companion strategy: Eat a lot of garlic before you play. The offensive odor is released through your pores, and the bugs don’t like it. Also, you might want to find out if your course allows single players or ‘one-some’s.’

Another Example of the Power of Color: The White Coat Effect.

You have probably heard of the “white coat effect,” where just being in the doctor’s office causes an increase in your blood pressure.  So, what happens if you see a white coat hanging on the hook behind the door with a stethoscope in the pocket? If you put it on, you’ll feel more “doctor-like,” says research scientist Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at Northwestern University. But it’s no good just seeing the coat hanging there – you must wear the coat to get the effect. Galinsky thinks it has something to do with the coat’s symbolic meaning –  i.e., the doctor is in when the coat is on. The study is from a new scientific domain called “Enclothed Cognition” (EC) that tracks the effects of clothing on the cognitive processes.

“We introduce the term ‘Enclothed Cognition’ to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes,” says the researcher. “In Experiment 1, physically wearing a lab coat increased selective attention compared to not wearing a lab coat. In Experiments 2 and 3, wearing a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter’s coat, and compared to simply seeing or even identifying with a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat. Thus, the current research suggests a basic principle of Enclothed Cognition – it depends on both the symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing the clothes.”

Other studies by Galinsky show that if a person lugs around a heavy clipboard or lots of books, they feel more important – even if the objects are only props. Along this line, when I teach, I always wear a large cowboy hat, which some of my students call the “Hat of Knowledge” – although in my mind I used the hat more for shade than sagacity.

The Shirt off His Back

A few years ago, I had lunch with one of the best players in the world, and during the conversation, he offered me one of the shirts his sponsor had sent him. I asked him what size he wore, and he said extra-large, which was two sizes bigger than I wore, so I said no thanks. According to Enclothed Cognition, I made a huge mistake. Even though it would have been a little loose, think how good I might have played with a Master champion shirt on – and suppose the shirt had been red?

The Takeaway: So, EC seems to be huge in terms of a myriad of domains such as golf performance, physical health, your love life, and your confidence – who knew?

Thus, when you play golf, always dress the part – and, even if it doesn’t bring success, you’ll still be the best-dressed failure in your foursome!

The Hat of Knowledge at work. In fact, I will wear it while I write my next book
“The 27 Most Important Things to Think About at Impact.”

If you’d like to study with Dr. Tomasi and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.