High Performance Apparel

Foul-Weather Gear Comes Out for the Cold

You've spent a fortune on your golf trip. Now the thermometer has plunged. It's raining buckets. Your windshirt is plastered to your arms, and water is squishing through your toes. You are freezing.

Fun, huh?

Not having the right clothes can turn a wonderful trip into misery. Good thing that golf--following the example of other sports from skiing to cycling--has embraced so-called technical apparel, lightweight clothes made of polyester and Gore-Tex fabrics that breathe, repel water, and otherwise keep you warm in cool weather and cool in hot. Among the golf brands leading the way are Zero Restriction, Forrester's, and Sunderland of Scotland, as well as the golf lines using Nike's Storm-FIT and Adidas' ClimaStorm waterproof-breathable fabrics.

But you'll have to do some searching and researching. There still aren't a whole lot of golf-specific clothes of this type available--and they can be pricey. To be fully outfitted for foul weather, you'll have to look beyond the local pro shop or golf department at the sporting goods store. Check out gear for other sports, study catalogs, and go online. That way, for a reasonable price, you can get an ensemble that's trim, lightweight, and functional, and that lets you move freely and look good. Trust us, you can have it all. But not if you buy under duress.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

-- Water-resistant vs. waterproof. Your water-resistant windshirt or windbreaker may be be sufficient protection for a light mist on a warm day or when you're caught in a shower on the 16th hole. Beyond that, you'll appreciate the water protection and breathability that jackets and pants of polyester microfiber with an inner membrane of Gore-Tex can provide. Make sure the seams are sealed to prevent leaks and that the zippers and pockets have storm flaps.

Rain pants should be long enough to cover the insteps of your shoes but not drag on the ground. Bunchy ankle elastic--never! Water will run into your shoes. Pants are a tough purchase, so don't limit yourself to golfing lines. You might find a pair that will work in the running, light hiking, and cross-country skiing departments.

In bad weather, a bucket hat replaces the baseball-style cap as headgear of choice. Flip up the brim when you swing, and water won't run on your ball.

-- Suitably attired. In golf, dress rules may be a consideration, even for foul-weather gear. To be on the safe side, pick clothes in fabrics that are soft and quiet, not stiff and "crackly." Some fabrics are even sand-blasted to soften them further. If you're playing in a club with a strict code, make sure your rain pants are neat looking. Zero Restriction's Microlite Gore-Tex pants look like dress slacks, but with ankle zippers.

-- Layers, layers, layers. It's always good to be able to add or remove garments, based on what you're doing and the weather. A base layer draws perspiration away from your body. A lightweight long-underwear top and bottom in wicking fabric such as REI's MTS or Patagonia's Capiline takes up hardly any space in your suitcase--and you'll be glad to have it if the mercury plunges. For the insulation layer, Malden Mills's Polartec fleece, available in many product lines, is warm and light.

-- Focus on feet. Invest in padded golf socks made of acrylic or CoolMax, which are also wicking fabrics. Pair them with waterproof, breathable golf shoes that are either made of treated leather or are Gore-Tex lined, and you'll avoid clammy feet.

-- Test drive. When you're putting together your foul-weather ensemble, try the layers on together. Is the jacket roomy--but not a tent? Can you sit, squat, and bend in the pants? Do the pieces all work together when you swing? Be sure to shop for your foul-weather gear before you need it. That way, the next time the wind blows and the rain lashes your face, the rest of you will be warm, dry, and comfortable.

By Christine Summerson

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