Don’t we all wish that the 24-7 meme sharing, social-distancing rules and lifestyle changes around stay-at-home orders were fads that didn’t need to exist? (OK, maybe we keep the memes.) We’re making our way through a pandemic with distractions and new ways of staying connected, but the trend — how we’re coping — seems to suggest that we’re supporting each other through difficult times. 

Fads come and go. 

But trends gain power and value as people commit to engaging in or with them. 

As an example, double polo shirts with popped collars were a fad for sure … uhhh yeah, we did that. 

On the other hand, wearing athletic wear as daywear managed to hit trend status, despite critics of people who seemed to always be coming from the gym, but never actually broke a sweat. 

We’ve all fallen victim to golf fads. (Don’t make me scroll through your ancient Facebook record.) Were you popping collars and learning to floss — dance version, not dental — when it was hot?

New techniques, new gear and garments specific for fluid movement and style aimed at the gullible golfer are prolific. Let’s thumb through the last one-half century of distinguishing fads that were temporary enough not to trend, and trends good enough to become part of golf’s real history.

1980s 

This was your decade of argyle sweaters or plaid pants, preferably not together. You kept those pants hiked waist high with a fashionable white belt. That is if you hadn’t succumbed to the Sansabelt fad, which featured a wide webbed elastic band sewn into the waist, intended to make a belt or suspenders unnecessary. 

The fad was, “I want to look like Jack.” Brash print and color might have had a short resurgence in nostalgic costuming on the pro circuit, but thankfully, it was just a fad. 

The ensuing trend, however, was huge. Branded merchandise from clubs to cleats hit the pro shop and retailers. If the Nicklaus name was on it, it was likely on you. What fad hit your game in the 80s? Did you sink a 12-foot putt, then point your putter like a weapon, copying Al Pacino reciting, “Say hello to my little friend!” 

1990s 

Greg Norman’s brand hit all the major retailers, and the everyman golfer was suddenly swimming in shark-infested waters, for a while. 

The trend was “bigger is better.” The Big Bertha driver took off, and everyone had to have it. Drive your ball farther! Hit it with more face! With a fully engineered stainless steel force that seals the confidence to go more than the distance!

Distance was needed then, too. 

Suddenly the big-is-best rationale spilled over into golf course design. Make it tough! Full of hazards! And show off how big your game is to feel successful! 

The game’s trend was a mere echo of American life. McMansions bludgeoned the suburban landscape after the economic upswing had everyone believing there was no limit. You rolled up to the drive-through window in your bimmer and ordered triple-decker sandwiches with secret sauce. Starter jackets and backward baseball caps signified how cool, big and fast you were. 

And if you weren’t out showing yourself off, you were at home in your lounge chair, feet up, following the fad of Bud or Miller Light as your beverage with a golf infomercial on the TV. Then you further followed the trend by signing up for the three easy payments on the red-lined laser for no-fail putting. “BooYa!”

2000s

Follow your Atkins diet plan now because here we go dodging heart disease and adding heavy fitness routines with an emphasis on aerobic activity. Scoffing at golfers might have been the trend in athletics at this turn, but not with Tiger Woods on the course. We envied his image of health, vigor, and fashion, wearing his signature red, mock-turtleneck nylon shirt, and black trousers. 

He trended as the player of the year from 1997 to 2007. His popularity led to the integration of a conspicuously racist sport. While it seems criminal to consider racial diversity as a trend, the movement needed to take hold within golf and was done so by the magnificent play of one man. 

Woods popularized the game as well. Now even nonplayers sat in front of their TVs watching the beautiful magnolias at Augusta. And if a non-fan interrupted your televised tournament relaxation, what did you do? You kept your hand on the remote and offered a “Cool your jets” answer. 

2010s

By the aughts, you are full-on into the technical age, where every day flies faster and faster as internet speed becomes everything. 

You had a new handheld device, website to visit, social media platform to join, network to link in for business advantages, and app or game to download. Love it or hate it, communication was always at your fingertips. Trend for sure. 

Plenty of fads developed out of this availability — I bet you did the Ice Bucket Challenge. 

YouTube dominated with anything that went viral. And some people made it their life goal to do just that: “Go viral.” That isn’t exactly the trend today, now that an actual virus has put all those short-lived videos to shame, but it shows how transient a fad is.

Where was the golf world in this decade? 

Technology influenced televised coverage. He hung on to replays of magnificent shots, come-from-behind wins and magical moments. This decade trended toward a more relaxed “What do we want out of life?” decade. 

The relaxed trend possibly led to some fads. Fans in the gallery shouted during play, rather than reverently whispering or politely cheering. You were far less interested in copying a player’s look or brand, but the craft cocktail fad likely hit your bar tab at the end of a round, before heading home to binge Dexter on Netflix.

2020s

So here we are. Seeking fads and hoping for trends that move us toward a better tomorrow.  Oh, you can say this whole piece has just been drivel about the past, but it is “fire.” Stick and Hack is an “influencer” trending “clout.” That’s not a “humblebrag.” 

BTW, those are today’s fad words for those of you stuck in the ’80s.