Fashion tips: What to wear at the Wells Fargo Championship

As Golf Digest’s “Mr. Style,” Marty Hackel spends his days chronicling the winners and losers at the nation’s biggest golf tournaments – not for how they play, but for what they wear.

He’s got some opinions about spectator fashion, too.

Starting Monday, tens of thousands of golf fans will stream through Quail Hollow Club for the Wells Fargo Championship PGA tournament that runs through May 4. Some will pick their outfits based on practicality; others will spend lots of time and money planning every piece of their ensemble.

Hackel has seen it all. He’s been to Charlotte’s tournament enough times to know how our golfgoers stack up against the rest of the nation when it comes to fashion.

Here’s his take on how we dress for golf, and his best advice about what to wear – and what to leave at home – if you’re headed to the tournament.

Q. We like to think of ourselves as a pretty “put-together” city. How do our golf fans rank against other PGA spectators in terms of fashion?

A: I would say the most stylish people you usually see at the Masters. I would say as to the No. 2, Wells Fargo is well within (the better dressed) of a regular-season tournament. It’s a pretty sophisticated crowd. It’s a very knowledgeable crowd.

There are plenty of people who go to Wells Fargo on a social basis, and there’s a certain Southern style they have. There’s a reason (high-end golf-wear label) Peter Millar is based in Raleigh. They have a great appreciation for style, and you can see that.

Q What sort of fashion mistakes do you see among tournamentgoers?

A: The people who go really wrong are the people who get out of their own comfort zone. They’re wearing what they think they should be wearing, rather than what they feel comfortable wearing. One of the key things here is just knowing what you have to do. If you’re going to sit in a hospitality tent, you can dress one way. If you’re going to follow some groups, it makes sense to dress so that you can walk and enjoy yourself, and you probably want to pack a hat.

The biggest mistake women make is choosing footwear that might go with their clothes but doesn’t go with the conditions (on the course). We used to joke about people wearing golf shoes at golf events, but today’s golf shoes are great shoes, so a lot of people are wearing golf shoes and it’s an excellent thing to wear. Along with being comfortable, they’re waterproof.

Q Any must-wear items?

A: I think it’s important to wear a hat. Especially if it’s bright and sunny. You’ve got to be protected. Usually people wear hats in the South, and they know to take them off when they go inside.

The challenge at this time of year is that it’s a bit of a lottery as to the weather. You almost have to be prepared for anything.

Q Any taboos, or any unwritten rules that will make a spectator want to go home and change? Is denim OK? How about shorts or bold logos?

A: Denim is fine. You don’t want to wear shorts that are too short or pants that are too long. Both of them can be a bad choice. You don’t want to overdo the logos – you don’t want to look like a road map. You don’t have to go to school to have good taste, you just need good common sense.

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