James Bond Golfs with Goldfinger
With the close of the PGA Championship (Congrats to Jason Dufner), we focus on another style icon’s day at the golf course.
Sean Connery as James Bond, British secret agent and sportsman
Stoke Poges, England, Fall 1964
Release Date: September 18, 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
Much like all pre-You Only Live Twice Bond films, Goldfinger is a very close adaptation of the material in the book. While some parts are different – for instance, the animosity between Bond and Goldfinger is initially more toned down in the book and the two even share a meal after their day at the golf course – it generally follows the same structure. Bond is recruited by an American (CIA agent Felix Leiter in the film and gambler Junius Du Pont in the book) to catch Goldfinger cheating in Miami. After a dalliance with Goldfinger’s girl, Bond returns to London, believing the issue behind him and ready to go back to work. Not so fast, Bond’s boss M tells him; this man Goldfinger is actually subject to investigation as requested by Colonel Smithers of the Bank of England.
Thus, Bond finds himself in the English countryside looking to engage his soon-to-be enemy in a friendly but high stakes game of golf. In the film, Bond and Goldfinger face off at Stoke Poges Golf Club in Stoke Poges, a village in Buckinghamshire. The location in the book, for those who are interested, is the Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, very near the literary Goldfinger’s mansion.
After a “chance” meeting, Bond ropes Goldfinger into a game and, before long, encounters his mute and muscular Korean manservant, the aptly-named Oddjob. Once all the pieces are in play, the unlikely foursome heads out onto the links: Bond, his marble-mouthed caddy Hawker, the Edwardian-dressed Goldfinger, and the wrestler-turned-servant Oddjob.
What’d He Wear?
Although more traditional than the youthful jumper and slacks chosen by Thomas Crown, Connery’s Bond still looks every bit of a young sportsman when he faces off against Goldfinger on the Stoke Poges golf course. The contrast between the fresh and young-looking Bond and the old, unathletic Goldfinger in his plus-fours is undeniable. Although the attire is slightly different from the book, Bond’s generalization for Goldfinger’s anachronistic outfit remains valid:
It was as if Goldfinger had gone to his tailor and said, “Dress me for golf – you know, like they wear in Scotland.”
In accordance with the film’s product placement deals, Bond wears a dark burgundy V-neck sweater with ribbed sleeves. This is one of the few items that Bond – especially Connery’s Bond – wears with a visible logo, as a pale yellow Slazenger panther logo is placed on the left chest. Slazenger is mentioned several times by name in the film as it is Goldfinger’s ball of choice although Bond prefers his Penfolds. But more on that later.
Underneath the sweater, Bond sports a light heathered gray polo shirt with two light gray buttons that shine white under the sun. Bond appropriately only wears the bottom button fastened. The polo is also long-sleeved, sneaking out through Bond’s cuffs in some shots. This shirt is worn tucked in, but the sweater is worn over the trouser waistband.
While a long-sleeve polo might be warm under a sweater, it also protects the sweater from sweat and protects the skin from irritation, especially if the sweater is an itchier material like wool. As long as Bond is comfortable and able to swing his arms with ease, matching a long-sleeve polo and a sweater was a smart choice.
Bond’s flat front trousers are a very dark charcoal, appearing almost black on screen. They have frogmouth pockets, plain-hemmed bottoms, and the same traditional high rise seen on most of Connery’s Bond trousers. Some production photos make the trousers look brown, and Matt Spaiser predicted on his blog that they are navy blue, but they appear dark charcoal or black to me, so I’m assuming that’s what the filmmakers wanted us to think Bond wore.
Like Crown and many other golfers, Bond’s footwear for the day is a pair of dark brown leather Norwegian golf kilties with a single eyelet for the leather shoelace. There are no straps to fit. Since the course evidently allows it, Bond’s kilties have metal cleats on the dark rubber sole. Bond wears his kilties with a pair of black socks.
Bond’s golf glove is red and white with a black strap to fit snugly on his hand. He wears it on his left hand and, when he doesn’t need it, he sticks it in his left trouser pocket.
No watch is visible, but Bond wears his Rolex Submariner on an undersized RAF strap for the rest of the film, so it is either under his wrist or in the clubhouse with his dressier hacking jacket that he wears for the rest of the day.
His final accessory, and a practical one for playing golf on a sunny day, is a dark gray short-brimmed straw fedora. The hat has a very wide black ribbon with two striped bands, each one following a white-red-white pattern.
Go Big or Go Home
While he is a skilled golfer, Bond’s genuine skill is no match for Goldfinger’s cheating. Thus, Bond has to take things up a notch with the help of his friendly and talkative caddy, Hawker. After introducing potential stakes to the game – a genuine brick of Nazi gold – Goldfinger decides to make the game count:
Goldfinger: You have no objection to increasing the stakes?
Bond: No. What did you have in mind?
Goldfinger: Why, the bar of gold you have with you, naturally.
Bond: It’s worth five thousand pounds!
Goldfinger: Oh, I’ll stake the cash equivalent!
But that isn’t enough for Goldfinger. Breaking an inviolable rule of golf, he pipes up against just as Bond prepares to swing:
Goldfinger: Strict rules of golf?
Bond: But of course.
Here, the product placement becomes important. Goldfinger makes a point of using Slazenger 1 golf balls. Interestingly, Slazenger is also the brand on Bond’s sweater and – with visible logo placement throughout – certainly got their money’s worth in mentions despite being the equipment of choice for the film’s main villain. Bond, on the other hand, uses the same Penfold Hearts balls he mentioned in the book. I don’t know enough about clubs to identify if he is also using a Calamity Jane putter, as he did in the Goldfinger novel. The James Bond Lifestyle site, an excellent resource for Bond fans, tracked down information about the Penfold Heart series.
(FYI, Goldfinger’s golf equipment in the novel was a set of Ben Hogan clubs and Dunlop 65 #1 balls, so at least the latter was changed to fit the wishes of the Slazenger PR team.)
After a wild shot into the rough, the four men go searching for Goldfinger’s ball. Oddjob, ever loyal, drops one of Goldfinger’s Slazenger 1s onto the rough, very close to the green. For any non-golf fans, this would be ideal when you hit into the rough. Of course, when Oddjob finds the ball, Bond and Hawker are rightfully dubious.
Hawker: If that’s his original ball, I’m Arnold Palmer.
Bond: (sly as ever) It isn’t.
Hawker: How do you know?
Bond: I’m standing on it.
Hawker yuks it up, loving his client’s trickery.
After a scare, the plan works. Goldfinger sinks his final ball into the whole after Bond made the switch at a previous hole. Believing himself to be the winner, Goldfinger gloats as Bond bends before him to remove the balls from the 18th hole.
Bond: (looking at the golf balls) You play a Slazenger 1, don’t you?
Goldfinger: (“Oh, shit.”) Yes, why?
Bond: This is a Slazenger 7. Here’s my Penfold Hearts. You must have played the wrong ball somewhere on the 18th fairway. We are playing strict rules, so I’m afraid you lose the hole and the match.
Bond’s shit-eating grin as Goldfinger angrily tosses his ball on the ground is priceless. However, the grin is later wiped away when Oddjob crushes the ball with one hand.
It’s a great scene and now one of the most famous golf scenes in movie history. Besides the great shots of Stoke Poges, golf was also effortlessly integrated into the plot line without becoming unnecessary sports porn.
How to Get the Look
Bond’s motif for the links is shades of red and gray. You can try his look or set out to make your own based on his template (with help from Iconic Alternatives).
- Light heathered gray long-sleeve polo shirt with 2 light gray buttons
- Dark burgundy long-sleeve V-neck sweater with ribbed cuffs and a pale yellow panther logo (bonus points if it’s the Slazenger logo) on the left chest
- Dark charcoal flat front trousers with frogmouth pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather Norwegian golf kilties with a leather lace through a single eyelet and metal cleats
- Black socks
- Dark gray short-brimmed straw fedora with a wide black striped ribbon (with stripes of dull white and red)
- Red and white golf glove with a black fastening strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
As usual, Matt Spaiser’s The Suits of James Bond blog also has an excellent write-up of this iconic golf outfit.
Another winner, LS! I’ve been passively searching for a hat like that one for a few years now. That golf game takes up an entire chapter in the book. Connery told Bond Producers Broccoli and Saltzman that he thought the idea of Oddjob crushing a golf ball with his bare hand was “fooking stoopid!”, according to one anecdote I read a few years ago. That would have been funny to hear.
Ha, I wish I could’ve heard that! His true feelings aside, Connery makes a terrific change of facial expression after Oddjob does indeed crush the ball.
I’ve never seen a black hat like that, but I’ve seen a few in yellow straw. The ribbon, I’m guessing, would almost definitely need to be custom in order to look the same. If you’re ever successful in getting the golf attire, we’ll have to meet up at a course. I’ll be the one in the “faded black windcheater” and old black & white houndstooth trousers.
Slazenger Heritage makes a painstaking replica of Bond’s sweater, replete with the old logo, which is far superior to the newer design. Also, G-fore, maker of the finest golf gloves, has a customizing function on their site where you can mock up a good facsimile of Bond’s glove (just choose red with a white thumb and a black strap).
Chiming in ten years later to say “great article” and also ask if you know what brand of beer that is in the final photo? Can’t figure it out!