Young, well-spoken and supremely talented, professional golfer Viktor Hovland is ready to take his game to the next level. Since turning pro in 2019, the 25-year-old has risen to as high as number 3 in the world, winning tournaments like the BMW International Open and most recently the Hero World Challenge. After making a run at last year’s Open Championship in St Andrews, a first major championship victory seems inevitable.
Hovland grew up in Oslo, Norway and had a prolific amateur career which garnered him attention from a number of college golf programs. He ultimately decided on Oklahoma State University, and eight years later he still makes residence in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It’s a lifestyle choice that speaks to the values of a new generation, forgoing the year-round sunshine of Florida that so many other pro golfers choose to live near the people who matter to him most.
A Scandinavian golfer representing the Swedish brand J.Lindeberg, Hovland follows in the footsteps of style maverick Jesper Parnevik who coined the signature upturned bill cap. And as the brand’s biggest ambassador these days, the ever-marketable Hovland continues the Nordic tradition of dressing loud. So while Hovland’s looks can be polarizing at times, he has the effervescent personality to match it, and it’s a breath of fresh air compared to other brands that perpetually take the safer option.
Already making his mark at this year’s Masters with an opening round 65, Hypegolf was able to sit down with Hovland on the Tuesday before The Masters at the Champions Retreat, where J.Lindeberg is hosting festivities all week long in support of its main man. Hovland went in depth on his role as a brand ambassador, his perspective on golf fashion and what makes Masters week so special.
Hypebeast: There’s a movement in golf around style and fashion that J.Lindeberg has been a part of. You’ve been with the brand since 2019 and you were early in wearing bold prints, track pants and other things not typically seen in golf. Do you think you’ve been pushing that movement forward with the brand?
Viktor Hovland: Yeah, I think that’s pretty cool. I think the last couple years you’re starting to see more of that stuff that you mentioned, some hoodies out there too. I think golf fashion is changing a little bit. It’s becoming a little bit more interesting because I think with a lot of guys people will see on TV it’s a lot of solid colors – gray, black, dark blue. I think it’s really cool that JL [J.Lindeberg] is definitely avant garde in the sense of pushing new ideas, new colors, new designs. And I think it’s cool to be a part of as well. And it’s very comfortable, it feels great to play in. That’s the number one thing.
Is that sort of your personality and what you want to project about yourself?
It’s kind of interesting because obviously I’m from Norway and I would say Scandinavia is usually on the fashion side, very kind of moving forward and trendy and that’s why I think JL has been so popular back home. I live now in Oklahoma, which is completely opposite, very traditional … So I’ve kind of experienced both sides. But it’s been really cool to see even my friends and people in Oklahoma and just generally in the United States seeing that JL has got some really cool stuff.
“The Masters is very traditional, there are a lot of rules … but I think it’s cool that you get that little mix in as well where you bring some fashion into it and just try to make it a little bit more trendy.”
About the Masters in general, one thing people who haven’t been might not know is how all the players will rent out houses and bring their families and VIPs. Does Masters week feel different in that sense? What is it like from the inside?
Yeah, I mean obviously playing on the PGA TOUR, we kind of get used to the rhythm of things being run a certain way. And the Masters, they have one tournament a year … so it’s a little bit different. You’re playing an amazing golf course, the history around it is incredible. You see a lot of past champions and it just has a completely different vibe around it. And being a major, it definitely elevates the atmosphere a little bit. As soon as you set foot on the ground it’s a different feeling, and obviously having a bunch of family in town makes it cooler. It’s just a great experience, not just for me, but with my family and friends and we can share this experience together.
And what do you think this kind of activation with the JL House is bringing to The Masters this year?
I think it’s just cool that we can bring more people in from different industries. Not just golf stuff, but you get influencers in town that have a different perspective on things and kind of make golf a little cooler and present it to a different base. Because the Masters is very traditional, there are a lot of rules. Things are kind of set in stone, but I think it’s cool that you get that little mix in as well where you bring some fashion into it and just try to make it a little bit more trendy.
If you had a chance to design your Masters Champions Dinner menu, have you ever thought about what would be on it?
It’s funny but actually there’s a well-known chef in Norway and I’ve eaten at his restaurant a couple times and gotten to know him a little bit because he plays golf and we have a lot of mutual friends. And I probably had a few too many drinks but I made a deal with him that if I win the Masters, he would cook the champions dinner. So we’ll have to get together and figure something out.
“There are so many unique traditions within the tournament … little things like the pimento cheese sandwiches and how cheap they are … You can stand on the 16th hole just watching players and caddies trying to skip balls over the water … every single hole you kind of get a different perspective on the tournament.”
For someone who’s never been to The Masters, what’s one thing that might surprise them about the tournament, something only players would know?
I think the cool thing about Augusta is there are so many unique traditions within the tournament. Obviously the tournament itself is historical, but little things like the pimento cheese sandwiches and how cheap they are, and the food is just great. You can stand on the 16th hole just watching players and caddies trying to skip balls over the water … There are so many little things like that, every single hole you kind of get a different perspective on the tournament.
And there are so many guys you can watch. You can get up really close, sit on the range all day, and you can see how guys practice. It’s a tournament that does things a little bit differently.
So last question, what color shirt goes best under the green jacket?
I mean an easy answer is to say green. Green on green looks pretty good, the scripting for Sunday looks pretty good. But yeah, nothing like too crazy, opposing colors would probably be a little bit weird. Obviously I went to Oklahoma State, so I think an orange would still look good underneath the green jacket. But yeah, anything white, black, green or orange.