Course of Style: Ralph Lauren's Trick Pony

Friday May 22nd, 2009
Davis Love always looks stylish in his Ralph Lauren Golf apparel.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The golf shirt, usually a three-button job with an embroidered doo-hicky on the chest (a pony, a crocodile, a dolphin, a skull and bones, a swoosh), is perhaps the most ubiquitous garment on the planet. But manufacturers are always looking for a new twist. Now the Polo Ralph Lauren company has come up with a way for you to customize their golf shirts to your taste.

In advance of Father's Day, Polo has introduced "Create Your Own Tournament Golf Polo," a feature that lets you choose from 10 body colors and two chest embroidery designs: the famous polo pony or your own initials. The Polo golf shirts, made of breathable pinpoint cotton mesh, can thus be tailored to your personal esthetic requirements, assuming you have any. For example, if you are exceptionally preppy, you can choose a pink (raspberry) pony to go on your green shirt. Or if you are exceedingly hip, you can opt for a black pony on your black shirt. To see in advance how it will look, you can use their website to model your choices electronically on Davis Love III, a Ralph Lauren-sponsored golfer.

David Lauren, a senior vice president of Polo Ralph Lauren, calls the feature, "a fun, original way for golf enthusiasts to infuse their own personal style to our classic polo." Other companies have experimented with similar personalization programs, for instance, Nike, which allows consumers to custom order its athletic shoes.

The customized shirts cost the same as Polo's regular Tournament golf shirts ($85). Shirts with American flags and even bigger ponies—the standard pony is about 1" tall, but the create-your-own offer allows you to mess around with a larger, 2 3/4" pony—cost more. We kind of like the dark blue pony on an all-black shirt, cool but, you know, understated. To play the ponies yourself, go to ralphlauren.com

LIKE THE DESERT, ONLY DRIER
So how do you distinguish your company's golf shirts from the hundreds of others out there, especially if they are your main product? At the Antiqua Group, the golf and sports clothes company based in Peoria, Ariz., the quest for newness has resulted in Desert Dry Extra Lite (D2XL, as they like to call it), a variation on their popular Desert Dry proprietary fabric.

This is for those who take their golf shirts extra-dry. Every company has its lightweight, moisture-wicking performance fabrics, so the golfer doesn't have to sweat through a round. But Antigua's director of product development, Sean Gregg, issued a challenge to his team and fabric makers: come up with a fabric that weighs less than 150 grams per meter of cloth. Most golf shirts, including Antigua's, come in the 180 to 220 grams per meter range. He also insisted that the fabric be a sort of super polyester microfiber. Polyester microfibers are inherently moisture proof, but this one has been chemically treated for even more, faster evaporation.

Other apparel companies have developed shirt fabrics that come in under 150 grams per meter, but the fabrics tend to be sheer. The Antigua golf shirts, which sell for $50 to $60, have enough meat in the fabric to be opaque.

"No dude wants to be wearing a shirt you can see through," Gregg said. Although we must say there are a few guys in our neighborhood ...

THINGS THAT SHOULD STAY WET
Sometimes the towel on your bag is not enough. You need to wipe your hands or clean a muddy clubface, but the cart is on the other side of the green already, or your caddie has stalked off to look for someone else's ball in the woods. Hence the thinking behind ruletwentyone, a small back-pocket towel made with eco-friendly materials. (The name comes from the official Rules of Golf, number 21: Cleaning the Ball.)

You whip it out and you're ready for a clean, dry shot. It's always there, tucked into your back pocket, when you need it.

The towel is the brainchild of Joe Borgenicht, who describes himself as "an Oxford-educated auto mechanic," who says that avid golfers faced with $300 GPS systems and other expensive gadgets, should instead opt for a moist towel, or as he puts it, a "high-end, must-have, intuitive tool for under $20 that simplifies their game."

The ruletwentyone towel comes in an absorbent bamboo terry cloth, which stays wet all day, with a waterproof shell exterior that keeps your pockets dry. They cost $10.

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