Lower the Handicap
THE COMBINING OF sport and science is not a new trend, but it is a pairing that has been strengthening. Just a few years ago, it would seem like science fiction to hear a professional athlete had injected himself with his own previously withdrawn blood platelets in order to speed along the healing of an injured knee. In this year’s Super Bowl XLIII, however, Hines Ward did just that.
Extending well past injury recovery, science has now touched every corner of sports. Its reach spans from nutrition to training to even the best way to hit a home run, and is also becoming deeply entwined with athletic apparel.
Athletes like Michael Phelps use high-tech performance apparel to shave seconds off lap times, and the concept of clothing improving ability is gaining more and more currency in the golf world.
A sport pinched uniquely between demands for high performance, comfort and style, golf is host to an interesting array of technical fabric innovations. James DeHoff, national sales manager for Hebron, Ohio-based Heritage Sportswear, explained some of these advancements.
One of the larger areas of performance fabrics, moisture wicking is especially important in golf apparel. Besides keeping the wearer free from heavy, sweat-bogged clothes that may impede swing technique or concentration, it also helps to keep a clean appearance—beneficial to any business deals that may be happening on the course.
As for how such fabrics are created, DeHoff said some synthetic fabrics, like polyester and nylon, have natural wicking properties, while other materials can have it built into the yarn. “Yarn [can be] produced with channels on the thread to move moisture away,” he said, adding that yarn made with hollow inner filaments and special weaving patterns can also be used to move moisture to the surface.
Chemical treatments can also be used for moisture wicking. DeHoff said a chemically treated fabric achieves the same result as a wicking one, but at a lower cost. The catch, however, is the coating will eventually wash out. “The number of washings a garment can undergo depends on the chemicals used,” he noted. “Some treatments last a dozen washings while others are designed to last 50 or more launderings.”
Although actual wicking fabrics will last much longer than their chemical-coated counterparts, they also can be affected by washings. “The use of bleach or fabric softener may coat the yarn and clog up the wicking channels, while bleach may degrade the yarn itself,” said DeHoff.