Course of Style: Sophisticated Performance

Jacquard golf shirt from Cleveland Golf
Cleveland Golf
Jacquard golf shirt from Cleveland Golf

After several seasons in which stripes and graphic color-block athletic patterns have been the look in golf shirts, some apparel makers are going for elaborately woven or knit Jacquard shirts that combine performance with classic styling.

Named for the Frenchman Joseph Marie Jacquard, who in 1801 invented a loom that could control each warp yarn separately — allowing for intricate repeat patterns — the Jacquard process has long been used in sportswear, especially natural fiber shirts and sweaters. But with advances in polyester yarns, which are now soft and flexible enough to undergo the Jacquard process, it is making its way into high-performance clothes. A typical old-school, 100-percent cotton Jacquard shirt, often mercerized to give it that smooth, shiny feel, would look good in the clubhouse but would eventually stick to your back on the course. Today's versions have the moisture-wicking, UV protection, and anti-microbial aspects of the top performance shirts.

Jacquard patterns can be much more elaborate than a simple triple or even multistripe design. Jacquards typically have a two-tone small-plaid structure or other symmetrical pattern, like the mini-check design on a 100-percent polyester Coolplus polo from Jack Nicklaus sportswear or the colored square design on a shirt from Cleveland Classics.

"Nobody was doing this a few years ago," said Claudia Schwarz, the vice president of apparel development and design at Cleveland. "Polyester used to be a plastic-y fabrication. Everybody wants it now to achieve an athletic look. And people are tired of stripes."

Cleveland knits its shirts on computer-guided Jacquard looms in Vietnam and Taiwan. The original designs are conceived on Ms. Schwarz's computer at the company's headquarters in Huntington Beach, Calif., using Adobe's Illustrator software. The shirts retail for $75.

"It's like a touch of fashion, but not overdone," Ms. Schwarz said.

Don't Know From Adam
The urge to move from the subjunctive to the indicative is strong. Contrary to speculation in this space last month, the Australian professional Adam Scott is not switching his apparel sponsorship to Ashworth Inc. He and his agents seriously considered the move — and a deal was fairly well set — but in the end Titleist, his ball and equipment sponsor, upped the ante and he renewed his contract with them, according to executives at Ashworth and Titleist/Acushnet.

Scott will continue to play Titleist equipment, wear its headgear and don FootJoy (a division of Acushnet) shoes and rain gear. He does not, therefore, have an overall apparel sponsor. Curiously, Titleist does not make golf fashions per se (shirts and trousers), but it probably does not want its brand to compete with others on Scott's physical being. He continues to wear Burberry clothing, although he is no longer paid by Burberry to do so.

In this age of golf star multi-branding, Scott's situation is not unique. Very few golfers have major head-to-toe apparel contracts like Tiger Woods (Nike) and Sergio Garcia (Adidas/TaylorMade). And there are all kinds of strange apparel loopholes. For example, Phil Mickelson doesn't have an apparel contract, but he wears custom-made golf clothes from England, which typically bear the logos of sponsors like Callaway and Barclays, per agreement. Davis Love III is sponsored by Titleist for his equipment, but he wears Polo/Ralph Lauren clothes.

To a top player, a golf apparel deal can be worth $1 million — an amount for which many of us would gladly play naked on TV.

Have a question, suggestion or news item for Woody? Send an e-mail to woody@golf.com.

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