The pace of technological change in golf, as everywhere, can be breathtaking or, in this case, eye-opening. This week’s Transitions Championship at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., puts the spotlight on high-technology sunglasses.
The sponsor of the event, Transitions Optical, is a major manufacturer of photochromic lenses for companies like Callaway, whose Tour Authentic eyewear boasts Neox Transitions Adaptive Sunwear lenses. They automatically adapt in changing light conditions and block 100 percent of UV rays.
Regular sunglasses may screen out some of the sun’s harmful rays, but they often distort colors and decrease your depth perception. Neox lenses adjust to all light conditions and sharpen depth perception for more accurate distance vision.
The technology also allows golfers to clearly see the course terrain and the contours of a green while putting. Now if only they can come up with something to actually read the putt.
Ashworth becoming performance driven
Now that it is part of Adidas, Ashworth lives within a corporate culture driven by athletic performance. “Modern style for the authentic golfer” is how Susan Bush, the senior executive at Ashworth, describes it. While showing various garments from the Ashworth line–polyester jersey golf shirts with a cottony feel; button-down polos with stretch fabrics; engineered chest prints; and, of course, argyle sweaters–she explained that Ashworth is essentially converting itself from a cotton-based, natural-fiber collection to a technical performance line, with classic styling.
“We’re not living in the past,” Ms. Bush said. “It’s been a big change for Ashworth to get out of cotton and move into synthetics. But these are not your standard technical fabrics.”
Ashworth's founder, John Ashworth, has left the company and started his own business under the name Linksoul. It is more of a natural-fiber collection, with plenty of cotton and merino wools with a heritage feel. Some of the fabrics are blended and have moisture-wicking properties, but he is striving for an almost mystical golf purity.
In golf today, there is this ongoing tension, or push-pull, between heritage and technology. Several companies are trying hard to combine both.
I wore a silky cotton Linksoul shirt under a suit jacket during my meeting with Ms. Bush–a considerable fashion faux pas, under the circumstances. Some days you opt for comfort and performance, others you want to look more classic and refined. Just like real life.