Headcovers: Art Form, Fashion Statement, Personal Expression, or Unnecessary Evil?

Headcovers do more than keep your woods from scratching up and banging around. They tell the world a lot about yourself.

Bag DropFirst I have to make a couple confessions: I am a headcover freak. And, yes, I know headcovers are probably unnecessary, if not a hassle to deal with. But to me they are a fascinating anachronism that has lived on far longer than their necessity would dictate. Why is that? And where do you stand on one of the burning issues in the game today?

OK, maybe I’m stretching the point a little when I say it’s a burning issue. But in my experience, a look at the bag of your fellow players can reveal a lot about their style, their approach to the game, and maybe even their self image. What does your bag say about you?

The Minimalist
This is the player with the naked woods. No headcovers to pull off and put on. No headcovers to lose. No headcovers to weigh them down. When it’s raining, they have one less thing to get wet. While the minimalist often has a bag of clubs that look like they were dragged behind a pickup down a gravel road, their focus is performance, not esthetics. And so what if their bag sounds like wind chimes in a tornado? Bravo to them. But I have to say that a bag of naked woods seems to me to be just, well, naked-looking. Take a look at one of the bag photos in Golf Digest’s What’s In My Bag features. That’s just not right.

The Brand Loyalist and The Unconscious
Taylormade HeadcoverI lump these two players together because they are difficult to distinguish unless you know them personally. They’re the ones with the headcovers that came with the clubs. Often, the brand loyalist will sport them in a matching staff bag, but not always. The loyalist cares about the brand they play, likes the brand they play and may even want others to know the brand they play. Their hat brand matches the headcover. The unconscious player, on the other hand, chooses to use a headcover that came with the club only because most people do… and it was free. Free is always good. So it’s not really something they think about. But I personally feel a branded headcover is a lot like the decal or logo a car dealer slaps on your new car. If you want me to advertise your business, you’d better be paying me to do so.

The Fan
Winningedge Headcover LionThanks to companies like Daphne’s and Winning Edge, it’s possible to use the same headcover that Tiger, Fuzzy, Sergio, John Daly, and other touring pros do. Beyond emulating PGA Tour stars, players can opt for headcovers that proclaim their favorite football team, alma mater, dog, cat, hot sauce… even their patriotism.

If there’s anything with a strong fan base, chance are there’s a headcover to proclaim it. In that vein, just let me say “Go Steelers!”

The Joker
Butthead Headcover HorseI once belonged to this category. I used a chicken headcover on my three wood because it was my chicken out club off the tee. But today there are much funnier ways to go. Particularly the Butthead headcovers introduced the last year or two. That’s funny. Well, to me, anyway. Into this category I would lump those who use Sesame Street or cartoon characters, Betty Boop, dice, gorillas, and skunks. Hey, golf is a game… it’s supposed to be fun!

The Matcher
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no sexist pig, but this category is made up largely of female country club members whose tapestry headcovers match their tapestry bags. And that’s fine. In fact, it’s a throwback to the days when golf bags weren’t plastered with logos, were made of leather, and most often came with matching leather headcovers. My problem with this approach goes back a long way. I was a young caddie regularly assigned to the bag of a certain female member who insisted I supply her a tee on every hole of a color that matched her outfit that day. Matching colors never had the same meaning for me after that.

The Traditionalist
OK, here’s where I fall. For me, knit is it. My father gave me a set of Jan Craig giant pom headcovers back in the 70’s when Nicklaus and Watson were sporting them. I’ve been a fan ever since. I could write a whole column just on these headcovers and maybe one day I will. But for now, let’s just say that I’ve since moved on to smaller poms and tassels – three sets worth right now. To me, they are just so cool looking I can hardly stand it.

Jancraig HeadcoversAnd I’m not alone. Current touring pros like Stuart Appleby and a bunch of others eschew their club sponsor headcovers for knits. There are a number of other companies offering knit headcovers like Rocket Tour and the Crafter’s Bin, but for me Jan Craig’s are the original. The downside? They are wickedly expensive and take a while to get. Are they worth it? Headcovers, $35 a pop. Waiting time, 10 weeks. Cool factor, priceless.

In the End…
If headcovers aren’t one of the game’s little pleasures for you, you’ve probably stopped reading this long ago. But if they are, perhaps it’s time to think about your options. What do you want your headcovers to say about you?

11 thoughts on “Headcovers: Art Form, Fashion Statement, Personal Expression, or Unnecessary Evil?”

  1. and then there are the cameron headcover collectors. Everyone needs a $250 putter cover 🙂

  2. Yeah, Jeff, I hear ya. I have a few of those too. Just amazing. I have one (white Scotty Dog) I am dying to use. We have a Scottie and it matches my bag. But it’s worth $200 or more. Ridiculous. I should use it or flip it… but the Cameron thing is a whole world to itself it would seem.

  3. Jack: Great stuff! I’ve become a brand loyalist/unconscious guy because my great Sparty driver headcover isn’t big enough to fit the 460cc drivers these days. But it seems like so many of these covers (like the Scottys) just scream “STEAL ME!” I wish there was a cheaper, easier-to-find alternative to the Jan Craigs…

  4. Great Article. I completely agree that the head cover has lost its purpose. But like the old saying goes, “what ever floats your boat.” Keep up the good work.

  5. I was reading your Bag Drop, dated April 30, titled Equipment Tricks for Faster Play, when I saw the link to this column on headcovers. Color me a Traditionalist. I received a set of Jan Craig headcovers this spring and I love them. Also, they go on and off so quickly, they certainly contribute to a faster round. They have such a great retro look and function just perfectly. Perhaps, as you suggested above, you should write a column about the Jan Craig company and their products. Both of your columns which I referenced are timely and well written.

  6. I am the “unconscious” person in this article. I still have my original head covers that came iwth the clubs, however I take them off when I first use the club in the round, and leave it off until I am done with the round, and I think more people should at least figure that out if they use the standard covers.

    An annoying head cover issue for me is the guys on the 9th or 18th hole, who have to sit there and put the covers all back on, and clean their balls and clubs and put stuff away, it makes me wish I had a car horn on the cart.

    (I say “all back on” because of the hybrids, which I own, have their own head covers).

  7. No, no …the knit or pom headcovers are exactly that ‘ knit or pom headcovers ‘. ( They ARE great ).
    A true ‘Throwback’ Headcover are the leather on leather with sewn on leather numbers types like you see in Alex Cejka’s Callaway Bag.
    These are what’s uber hip right now. They are minimalist while providing a warm old school is new again ( low impact ) vibe /design . They are ultra functional ( easy off & on ) while beaming cool from every angle.
    And I just realized that they look like a wet sock hanging over your club … nevermind. ( I actually wanted to say they look like a used con*** but that’s what you get when you take this blog’s exercise too far ).

  8. Does anyone know where I can get a headcover made to look like someone, similar to Ryo ishikawa’s headcover?

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