Course of Style: Tiger Even Boosts the Competition

Tuesday June 23rd, 2009
Woods on Wednesday at the Match Play.
Robert Beck/SI

Everyone is happy Tiger Woods is back — even the competition's sponsors! You would think having the world's No. 1 golfer on millions of TV screens at the Accenture Match Play Championship in his carefully scripted Nike Golf comeback outfits — whether the blue Nike Dri-Fit shirt on Wednesday or the gray triple stripe he was slated to wear Friday, all worn with his brand new ultralight Nike Air Zoom TW shoes — would not be exactly thrilling to the folks who make competing brands.

But the opposite is the case.

"He's such a huge help," said a vice president of marketing for one of Nike Golf's main competitors. "You're just happy he's back," said another. Presumably, attracting several million extra eyeballs to the television screen this weekend would have had a salutary effect on everyone's business, but he was eliminated from the Match Play on Thursday. Woods was scheduled (or scripted) to wear red and black on Sunday, per usual.

Clothing Your Clubs
High-end style and functional design come together in a new headcover from golf accessories maker Sumi-G, a start-up golf company that brings a kind of mystic Japanese sensibility to its products. ("Sumi" refers to the dense black ink used in traditional Asian calligraphy; the "g" refers to golf.)

Its signature new product is a cleverly structured, hard headcover with a pivot-hinge opening that easily slips on and off even a 460-cc driver. Unlike soft covers, it can be picked off the ground by inserting the clubhead, a feature certain to appeal to senior golfers and those with back problems.

No need ever to bend over to retrieve a stray cover on the tee. No more pulling and stretching to get your Panda bear or cute woolly knit headcovers to fit. Sumi-G's president, Marius Kvinge, a Norwegian who is addicted to golf, said that there was a patent pending on the headcover design, which took five years to develop. The driver headcover retails for $38, fairway woods $34, hybrids $28.

The company also makes belts, divot tools, money clips, cufflinks, caps, towels and equipment bags, all with their trademark red dot and sumi-ink style logo. The belts and divot tools have removable ball markers. The Salt Lake City-based Sumi-G unveiled its first collection last month, in the teeth of a recession, but its headcovers have distributors fighting each other for territory. It's a collection for golfers who appreciate a high level of design and craftmanship.

Chrome Yellow
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but at last weekend's Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, there seemed to be an awful a lot of bright yellow and orange golf clothes. On Saturday, the eventual winner Phil Mickelson donned a bright orange Callaway shirt under a black sweater vest, traditional Halloween colors, en route to carding a near-course-record 62 (proving that no matter how bad you look, you can still play beautifully). In the same threesome, Luke Donald wore a sunny yellow Polo/Ralph Lauren golf shirt. Elsewhere, Scott McCarron wore a yellow Greg Norman golf shirt, and 17-year-old Japanese sensation Ryo Ishigawa wore electric yellow pants. If this becomes a trend, we may all want to tone down the brightness controls on our TVs — or wear sunglasses to watch golf.

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

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