The days when a sweater, a pair of baggy pants and other old-fashioned cheap golf clothes were enough for the golf course are long gone. Golf equipment has evolved immensely over the years, and that includes golf clothing as well. Since the days when sweaters on the golf course were hip, there have been three particularly big advances in golf clothing: anti sweat, moisture wicking technology; antimicrobial technology; and specially engineered compression tops and shorts.
Sweat is by far the biggest irritant to athletes. Sweating is an inevitable consequence of athletic activity, but wearing the right clothes can make sweating only a minor nuisance.
Before the 1980s, most athletes wore cotton workout gear. Cotton has many advantages as a fabric, but it is not very good at wicking away moisture. When cotton becomes wet it tends to cling to the skin and cause chafing. This can be an especially big problem in golf because any kind of physical irritation can contribute to a loss in all-important mental focus.
To make golf clothing more resistant to becoming saturated, golf clothing manufacturers in the 1990s experimented with a range of nylon based fabrics in an attempt to create a fabric capable of wicking away all excess moisture. They did not succeed at completely accomplishing this, but their new nylon based clothing was a big improvement over the cotton clothing.
It wasn’t until the mid 2000s that golf clothing manufacturers figured out a two pronged strategy to deal with sweat: puckered fabrics, and advanced wicking polymers.
Puckered fabrics were a big step forward in fighting the negative consequences of sweat. Puckered fabrics allow more air between the wearer’s skin and the clothing they are wearing than conventional fabrics, enabling sweat to evaporate more easily. This leaves the wearer with relatively dry skin.
Adding special polymers–capable of accelerating the wicking away of sweat–to puckered fabrics was the next move forward. Manufacturers discovered that puckered fabric with added special polymers such as polybutadiene outperformed ordinary cotton by a factor of ten or more in wicking ability and resistance to saturation. Now all special wicking clothes produced by Nike and other major golf clothing manufacturers incorporate puckered fabric and polybutadiene.
Like anti sweat technology, the roots of antimicrobial technology derive from a common, irritating problem: The rapid proliferation of bacteria in used athletics apparel.
As bacteria become more and more resistant to available antibiotics, preventing their spread becomes more and more important. Golf clothing (like other forms of athletic apparel) can be a major source of harmful bacteria once it has been exposed to sweat.
Bacteria are not secreted with sweat, but sweat provides many nutrients that bacteria thrive on, and the combination of body heat and sweat leads to explosive bacterial growth.
Golf clothing manufacturers traditionally approached the problem of bacterial proliferation by trying to make golf clothing as easy to wash as possible. They experimented with fabrics that stood up well to machine washing and could also handle dryers, in an effort to encourage people to wash their golf clothes frequently by making washing them as easy as possible.
This approach failed for a number of reasons: Golf clothing wearers were still exposed to high levels of hazardous bacteria during workouts, and washing was not 100% effective at removing harmful bacteria.
The idea for a new approach did not come until 2003, when Nike’s in-house clothing research team came up with the idea of using nano particles to fight bacterial growth.
Some nano particles are capable of inhibiting bacterial growth through mechanisms that are not yet fully understood. The nano particles that appear to be particularly powerful at inhibiting bacterial growth are gold nano particles, copper nano particles, and silver nano particles.
Gold nano particles are the best at inhibiting bacterial growth, but adding them to clothing is prohibitively expensive. Copper nano particles work well too, but they have many disadvantages.
One of the disadvantages of copper nano particles is that they are easily subject to corrosion. Once corroded, the particles lose almost all their ability to inhibit bacterial growth, and may in some cases end up contributing to it.
Silver nano particles are by far the best option, primarily because they are cheaper than gold nano particles, and much more resistant to corrosion than copper nanoparticles.
Golf manufacturers now routinely add silver nano particles to specially marked antimicrobial clothing.
Of course, not all golfers routinely worry about sweat and bacteria. What every golfer in the world constantly obsesses over is performance.
The search for golf clothing capable of improving golfing performance has been a long one. Since the early days of dedicated golf clothing, clothing designers and manufacturers have been looking for ways to improve the mechanics of a wearer’s golf swing through clothing.
With the invention of Lycra Power fabric by Dupont in 2004, the search came to an end. Lycra Power enables clothing manufacturers to make special compression tops and shorts capable of enabling golfers to adopt better form and reduce the fatigue they feel.
Golfing isn’t easy, and while Lycra Power doesn’t make it easy, it makes it easier. Golfers using Lycra Power tops and shorts tire a little less easily than golfers using normal clothing.
The fatigue reduction effect is brought on primarily by Lycra Power’s ability to simultaneously move with muscles and keep them from vibrating excessively. Lycra Power lets muscles do their work while preventing them from moving excessively after the wearer has completed his swing. As an added bonus, Lycra Power is not an expensive fabric and can be found in even cheap golf clothes.
Taking advantage of all the technological advances in golf clothing does not have to be expensive. Although new cheap golf clothes are generally less technologically sophisticated than new expensive golf clothes, used golf clothing (even golf clothing made with advanced materials like the ones described in the foregoing text) is not hard to come by, and because most technologically advanced golf clothing is made extremely well, there is hardly any difference between a piece of golf clothing that has been worn once or twice and one that was never worn at all.
Finding top quality used clothing can be a little difficult, but it is never impossible, and if you search hard enough you will eventually find some high quality cheap golf clothes.