Golf is the one sport where you basically wear street clothes, or a variation on street clothes, to play (we're not counting cricket here), so some attention to fashion must be paid. All golfers want to feel comfortable on the course, and if they look good while doing it, so much the better. Anything that does not combine performance with solid good looks seems dated or outmoded. A look at the spring-summer apparel and shoe collections of Adidas Golf tells the story.
Advancements in fabric design underlie nearly all the company's 2010 garments and shoes. For the consumer, sometimes it is not so easy to figure out which fabrics do what, what features you need, and what categories suit you. Let's begin at the top.
When it comes to the golf shirt, the challenge, from the point of view of the manufacturer, is to combine the highest degree of performance sweat management, breathability, support and freedom of movement throughout the swing in a garment that also looks terrific. At the core of the Adidas approach are its ClimaCool golf shirts, which have the superior moisture management of CoolMax fabrics combined with additional mesh ventilation in heat zones. Adidas golf shirts are also anti-microbial, resist pilling, and have a built-in sunscreen factor of UPF15+.
There are several shirt categories, to suit different tastes and budgets, for both men and women. In the "tour performance" category, this season Adidas features Formotion polos, which incorporate sport-specific stretch engineering to optimize comfort during the golf swing. For spring they come in solid colors and tone-on-tone color-block patterns, with shaped sleeve-openings, mesh ventilation backs and the Adidas three-stripe logo on either the back shoulder or lower back ($80). A knit jersey version comes with contrasting color panels and a logo on the rear yoke ($65). The jersey knit version of Formotion also turns up in Adidas golf shorts, which are flat front with a scorecard back pocket and Velcro glove tab ($70). Unlike those sweat-stained Bermudas you wear on hot days, these are shorts made specifically for the golfer.
For traditional golf shirts (and for somewhat less money), Adidas has its "core performance" line, which includes ClimaCool textured polos, with rib-knit collars and mesh side panels. These come in stripes or solids, jersey or ClimaLite (a variation on the ClimaCool approach that is highly breathable and lightweight). Prices range from $65 for a textured ClimaCool polo to $40 for a ClimaLite solid jersey polo.
To pair with their shirts, Adidas makes a large selection of trousers and shorts, both in ClimaCool and ClimaLite. One highlight for this spring and summer: Adidas' ClimaCool Three-Stripe stretch trousers, with a concealed back mesh panel for increased comfort. These pants pick up on the popular Adidas side-striping that looks cool on their track suits and other workout gear ($80).
If logos are not your thing, this March Adidas introduced a separate high-end fashion collection called AdiPURE (in honor of the founder of Adidas, Adolf "Adi" Dassler), designed to appeal to the country club customer with nary a three-stripe logo in sight. The centerpieces of the AdiPURE line are a "sanded" golf polo shirt, made of a fabric processed to give it an exceptionally smooth and silky feel, and performance-wool trousers, a mixture of CoolMax and worsted wool, in silver or black (golf shirts $90, the wool trousers $140). Shirt collars have been redesigned for greater neck comfort, and shirt fronts feature a four-button placket, instead of the more typical three, to evoke the prevailing seventies-style golf esthetic. Trousers are sleek and flat front and could easily be worn to the office. In this small, elegant collection there are also sweaters, rainwear, and shoes. It's as if Miuccia Prada turned her hand to serious, good-looking golf clothes.
Equipment for the Feet
Adidas made its name in shoes, and in recent years its golf shoes have rapidly overtaken some of its competitors. It is now the #2 bestselling brand worldwide, no small accomplishment in a very competitive field. The three-stripe logo is highly visible on the PGA tour and not just among Adidas-sponsored professionals. Many golfers choose them independently for performance and comfort.
This season Adidas combined the technical aspects and comfort of the Tour 360 golf shoe into a version for the AdiPURE line, in understated white or black or color combinations ($250). These top-of-the-line shoes feature premium hand-finished leather uppers, leather linings and waxed shoelaces that repel moisture. Like all the Adidas golf footwear this year, they incorporate the company's new ThinTech low-profile technology that uses a redesigned cleat and sole system to bring the golfer closer to the ground presumably resulting in better overall ball striking.
A version of this shoe called AdiPURE Nuovo, with a perforated leather saddle or upper, has somewhat less pronounced three-stripe detailing ($220). Next down the line is the latest iteration of the Tour 360, the 4.0, which features X-Static silver filament fibers woven into the lining to help keep the feet cool ($180).
The popular Powerband 3.0 series shoe ($140) continues the respected Adidas Powerband chassis, a mid-shoe support system that wraps up higher on the forefoot and heel than ever before to secure the foot for more power and control, according to the company. Like the shoes mentioned above, Powerbands are fully waterproof and comfortable to wear right out of the box.
This year for dryer climates Adidas produces an interesting variation on its Tour 360 the Tour 360 4.0 Sport, a shoe with a 50-50 protect system that surrounds the foot with a water-resistant lower half and a breathable mesh upper ($120). Among its technical advances are an "ion mask," or nano coating, to make the shoe fabric water resistant, and the aforementioned X-Static silver fibers to keep the foot cool. It's the ideal shoe if you play in, say, wet grass in the morning, then, after the sun burns off all the dew, you end up walking the holes in essentially dry conditions. It offers the versatility of a breathable, flexible athletic shoe with a good degree of water resistance for most conditions.
It is worth noting that all Adidas golf shoes for 2010, right down to the affordable Golflite Slam 2.0 model ($60), are using the ThinTech sole and cleat technology for bringing the golfer lower to the ground. It will be a full year (2011) before other golf shoe companies can use this technology.
Braving the Elements
The Adidas approach to outerwear in 2010 relies on a system of protective layers.
These begin right at the skin, where contour-hugging support or compression garments what Adidas calls Techfit Powerweb enhance the golfer's posture and support the muscles, especially in the abdominal area, throughout the swing. These compression garments are also available in thermal fabrics for greater warmth. A Techfit Powerweb short-sleeve crew has support bands in key areas of the body as well as sport-specific ventilation (at the armpits and lower back) for comfort ($80).
Depending on conditions, the next layer might be a Thermal Clima compression Mock, a mock turtleneck shirt with long sleeves ($45). For stormier weather, look for the Adidas ClimaProof label. A ClimaProof Storm Soft-Shell jacket (either in half zip or full zip) has four-way stretch and is fully seam sealed, waterproof and breathable ($145 full zip). This can be combined with a ClimaProof Storm Soft-Shell Trouser ($100) for exceptional rain protection.
For windy conditions look for ClimaProof Wind lined jackets ($70-$80), in long or short sleeved models. In colder temperatures, a ClimaProof Wind-Warm product is highly wind and water resistant, maintaining body heat without adding bulk to restrict your swing.
Clearly, the interplay of technology and fashion is more pervasive in golf than in any other sport, and Adidas has been in the forefront of this trend.