Prowling the floors at the recent PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., where just about every vendor with a product remotely connected to golf was peddling something, I was on the lookout for the hottest, new things from women, things not only to improve our game but apparel that would make us look like we were scratch golfers.
I found some truly incredible golf fashions made out of unpronounceable tech fabrics, many reworks of polyester, some fused to cotton; others designed to be eco-friendly made out of things like coconut (cocona) and bamboo with claims to do everything from repel odors to wick off moisture and repel pesky bugs.
If there was a discernible trend in this year's tough economic scene besides going green, it was back to great classics for men, like the Ashworth collections in polos and shorts and slacks in soft neutrals and muted blues and greens, while the ladies attire was going more trendy with tapered fit, color inserts and contrast details like Adidas' ClimaCool three-stripe zip mock and mesh stripe polo. I also loved the sharp new shapes in Adidas' FitRX shoes with memory foam. www.adidas.com
I took a look at Tour Edge's Moda clubs for women. The 6A4V titanium offset driver has a good feel and goes well off the tee. New this year is the addition of three hybrids (5, 6, 7) in the iron set, which I found very easy to hit, especially off hard ground where a two-step sole helps you get the ball off the turf easier. There's no doubt about it: It's much harder to miss-hit a hybrid than a 3- or 4-iron for most players. Moda sets are accented with soft blue and pink highlights. www.exoticsgolf.com
I tried out the latest mid-weight putters from Heavy Putter for smooth stroking (www.heavyputter.com) and SkyGolf's new SkyCaddie GPS system on the Legacy Golf Club course during a pre-show outing. Once I learned how to use it, I became dependant if not lazy - no more pacing. To date, SkyGolf has mapped close to 30,000 courses worldwide including my little club in central New York, Skaneateles Country Club. www.skygolf.com
Standouts were wheelie travel golf bags with retractable wheels and RainFlex jackets with reflective stripe details from Sun Mountain (www.sunmountain.com); sunglasses from Sundog with new ray-blocking lenses; D-Ring belts, caps and visors and golf bags with fun and wild color designs from Glove-It; and products like head covers, bracelets, belt buckles and putters embellished with crystals.
The first day I arrived and checked into my Vista Cay condo just a mile from the convention center - a great deal for Florida visitors arranged through All Star Homes (www.AllStarVacationHomes.com). It was sunny, so I headed to the pool for a little unwinding from the plane trip.
Sitting near me, a young couple was doing something very strange: rolling perfectly clean golf balls in the dirt around the flowers then putting them back into a box. Turns out, the dirtier the ball, all the better to show off the cleaning capabilities of their new invention: the "Rule Twenty-One Back Pocket Towel."
"Here, try this," said Joe Borgenicht, Rule's owner, handing me a filthy golf ball and his towel, a piece of soft-feel waterproof fabric laminated to a bamboo-terry layer, folded in a triangular shape and held at the top with a plastic clip. Here's the plan: You wet the inside, wipe your ball and tuck the tip into your back pocket, which folds so that nothing but the ball gets wet. It's one of those simple, clever items you might actually use: $19.95 in red, white and blue. www.rulegolf.com
One of the big things this year was the buy-in by the apparel companies to the eco/green movement. I saw clothing made from bamboo, coconut, seaweed, minerals, organic cotton and even recycled polyester bottles. Nothing tasted like a coconut, smelled like seaweed, felt like bamboo or could double as a drink container. Fabrics were soft, fluid and perfectly suited to golf attire.
Tehama was showcasing several stylish items made with "green" in mind. One of its polos was even enriched with vitamin C said to promote healthy new skin and relieve dryness. Another moss-print, long-sleeved polo was made from a combination of cellulose fiber and seaweed designed to release vital amino acids, minerals and vitamins into your skin. And a skort in juniper was made with recycled polyester products. I especially like the sleeveless "carbon-tech" polo in pear with a mandarin collar and design panels down both sides. www.tehama.com
Riding in on the Eco-trend, Cutter & Buck's CBUK Minerale collection contains the same minerals used for water purification to give exceptional evaporative cooling, odor resistance and UV protection. With these garments, a run-through the laundry simply refreshes the fabric. CBUK tuned into the younger generation of golfers, incorporates the latest trends and details with a slimmer fit, urban styling and cool colors like the orange CBUK DryTec Capital Polo in Torch, the DryTec Velocity Full-Zip jacket and Acceleration Plaid Shorts. www.cbuk.com
Paul Creamer was at the show signing autographs at the Sundog booth, her shades pushed up on top of her head. Her Sundog Collection comes in the three styles: Prowl, Allure and Iconic, which features a one-piece lens and laser-etched temple artistry. Sundogs Mela-Lens filters out higher-energy visible light and ultra violet light, adding up to veiled glare reduction without polarization along with sharper definition and truer colors - all designed to be easier on your eyes, more soothing. Bottom line: You'll look cool, too. www.sundogeyewear.com
AHEAD's lightweight wind- and water-resistant jackets use Nanotex fabrications that resist staining big time. The windshirts also feature a self-fabric, stand up collar with contrast panel, concealed zippered pockets and raglan sleeve, making it easy to swing. The Kate Lord collection features a long sleeve half zip and full zip at $55-$60. Ahead also invites you to bring on the "Rhinestone Cowboys" and set the greens aglitter with Kate Lord's Austrian Crystal Hat Clip/Ballmarker Collection. Bees, beach balls, daisies and more are all crafted in a sparkling of colors with magnetic hat clips. The lady bug? Sweet. (About $18.) www.aheadweb.com
Young Canadian fashion entrepreneurs, Geoff Tait and Bobby Pasternak, have blown the top off golf fashions since they launched their Quagmire line of golf apparel four years ago. Think shrunken blazers in plaid pastels, terry-cloth dresses and skirts like the saucy polka dot Nicky for ladies. Slashes of color, frayed edges and askew pockets add elements of surprise and zany fun to styles that easily transits from beach to course. Moisture-wicking polyester and bamboo blends get nods of approval from hard-core golfer and eco-enthusiasts alike. www.quagmiregolf.com
Certainly the glittering cuff bracelets attached with a tiny crystal "golf ball" by Frosted Gear caught your eye. Made in Austria, the crystals are from Swarovski (www.frostedgear.com). And from the people who brought you Butthead covers, those upside down creatures that slip over your clubs, the company has added a bit of bling to their newest collection, Butt-A-Bling. www.buttheadcovers.com
Now I have a confession. After this mind-boggling array of incredible golf merchandise, what I loved the most, what I have to have, is Flair Hair. Put this visor on, and you'll have a whole head of nerdy spiky hair sticking up from the center. Kind of like a chia pet on steroids. It comes with gray, blond and dark brown "hair" and in various sizes and colors. ($19.99).
Its Web site testimonial says, "Since I started using Flair Hair's visors, my golf game has dramatically improved. My slice is gone, I'm averaging 20 more yards on my drives, and I've got the confidence that helps me win each week on tour." Come on, you've got to be serious. Hey, that's it. When you wear Flair Hair, not even your mother can take you seriously, especially you, so all you can do is relax, enjoy the laughs and let the putts roll in. www.flair-hair.com
February 16, 2009