Look good, play great: does this golfing adage hold any truth? 

During the ten years that golfer Ian Poulter ran his own clothing label, IJP Design, he would regularly tell his followers on social media: look good, play great. It became Poulter’s catchphrase and worked as a marketing ploy for his tartan-style clothing brand that he became known for donning on the golf course. 

Poulter’s impressive CV backs up his claim 

With 17 international victories to his name since turning pro in 1994, Poulter had the silverware to back up his claim that stylish attire enhances a golfer’s performance on the fairways. Although it is not these 17 wins that Poulter is revered the most for given that the Englishman’s courageous performances at the Ryder Cup ultimately cemented his legacy as one of the game’s most effective competitors. 

Indeed, Poulter will always be synonymous with Ryder Cup success even if his connection with the competition ended on a somewhat sour note. Following his defection to LIV Golf in 2022, the 47-year-old’s time as a player for the European team was brought to an abrupt end after a falling out with the powers that be of the European Tour.

Encouragingly for European fans though, even without the man they dubbed the ‘postman’ on the account of Poulter consistently delivering points, the latest Ryder Cup picks odds still make Europe the favorites to beat the United States at a price of evens. The US meanwhile, will start the week at odds of +110. 

Breaking away from what might happen at the 2023 Ryder Cup, the wider point is that Postman Poulter might have been onto something when he encouraged his fans to dress well before playing golf if they wanted to perform at a higher level.

Still, the question remains, is this feeling of empowerment all in the head or is there any science behind the suggestion? 

Materials matter

The truth is that there is a large degree of science behind the statement. These days, golf’s leading clothing manufacturers produce eye-catching shirts that are designed to regulate a player’s temperature on the course. 

Essentially, this means that while players might look cool with a swish or three stripes on their chest, they are also now certain to stay cool and not overheat or dehydrate during the time it takes them to complete a round. 

In addition to a comfortable body temperature, manufacturers now also provide advanced UV protection in the form of fashionable sun protection golf shirts and hats. This was one of the most needed breakthroughs in golfing apparel and gives players the tools to avoid the effects of long-term overexposure to the sun.

Essentially, knowing that there is a reduced chance of catching the sun while in a chic shirt or cap helps players purely focus on playing the round of their lives.


There is no substitute for confidence on a golf course given how psychological the game is. In essence, when a player believes in their own ability, they are able to withstand the setbacks that a round inevitably delivers at some point.

In reality, whether it’s Rory Mcllroy or Tiger Woods, golf unexpectedly tests everyone at one stage or another. The quickest way for players to begin their round with total conviction in their swings is to look the part when arriving at the course. When they do, they have the all-important belief that any obstacle can be overcome. 


Golf is a sport of tradition and values that are sacred to the game. One of the most honored rules is adhering to a dress code of a particular golf club. While it is true that most golf clubs have relaxed their dress codes over time, there is still an expectation that players will make every effort to look well-presented when they arrive on the first tee.

Crucially, doing so will automatically ensure that players earn the respect of members at the club whom they might be paired with for a round. It goes without saying but the benefits of playing with partners who are courteous while impeccably observing on-course etiquette gives players the perfect platform from which to succeed. 

Poulter’s pearls of wisdom 

Ian Poulter may have been solely intent on selling items of his clothing label but he stumbled upon a catchy line that rings true in every sense. Yes, there can be little doubt that looking good does lead to playing great.