It won’t be hard to spot Rickie Fowler at the U.S. Open this week.
Usually dressed in flamboyant hues, longish hair peeking out from the Puma cap on his head, the 23-year-old California native has added a touch of candy-colored whimsy to the traditionally pastel and khaki aesthetic of the golfing world.
In fact, Fowler’s penchant for neons and tropical colors, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, “could shame a leaden sky with what amounts to a ground-level sunset.”
His Justin Bieber-esque haircut, rainbow shoe collection and ostentatious fashion sense have inspired a legion of young middle school-aged golf fans, who often show up to golf tournaments in Fowler-inspired get ups.
"If I can influence and attract a younger generation to golf and kind of help make it cool in their eyes," Fowler said of his fans in May, "yeah, I definitely want to have that kind of impact and help grow the game."
Even Puma’s sponsorship of Fowler is considered uncharacteristic in a sport companies like Nike are more traditionally represented.
Fowler isn’t a bad player either. He turned pro in 2009 and was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2010. He is competing against the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at the Olympic Club this week.
According to PGA coach and UPI contributor Stephen Moskal, Rickie Fowler is a member of the PGA’s so-called “young guns club,” a cohort of flashy, under-30 pro-golfers who are shaking up the sport.
Before last year’s U.S. Open, Fowler appeared alongside fellow PGA tour golfers Ben Crane, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan as boy band “The Golf Boys,” in a goofy mock music video called “Oh Oh Oh” for charity that garnered more than 4 million hits on YouTube.
Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Scott Ostler notes that Fowler and company are changing the nature of a very conservative game.
“It's a new concept in golf: The PGA Tour as frat house. Phi Slamma Whamma?” Ostler posits.