As of March 20, winter was be officially over. The time for marketing to ski resorts and other cold-weather destinations is over as golfing becomes the favorite pastime of the office elite. Prepare yourself for outfitting corporate workers, country club goers and professional golfers with advice from the experts at golf apparel suppliers Cutter & Buck and Tri-Mountain.
Spring still dominates as the best time for golf apparel, but winter is becoming more of a sell. Danny Tsai, vice president, merchandising, Tri-Mountain, Irwindale, Calif., mentioned an increase in cold-weather golf apparel as corporate gifts. "We definitely see a spike in the spring and summer, though the winter holiday season is also a boom time as gifting and holiday-related corporate programs are kicking in," he explained. To outfit fall and winter golfers, Tsai recommended windshirts, quarter-zips, light jackets and polyknit fleece. "They protect against wind and the elements without sacrificing mobility and performance," he said. According to Joel Freet, national sales manager, corporate, for Seattle-based Cutter & Buck, combining performance and luxury qualities is ideal for cold-weather golfers. "[The] CB DryTec Luxe is a hybrid of Cutter & Buck's renowned performance and celebrated luxury. Moisture wicks away from your skin keeping you dry, comfortable and looking sharp," he said.
Tsai noted that certain performance qualities formerly considered luxuries are now standard on golf apparel, especially if you want a successful program. "Moisture-wicking is no longer a luxury but a necessity and a requirement when you're trying to outfit golfers nowadays," he said. "Additional features like anti-microbial and UPF are also becoming more popular," Tsai continued. "These features help golfers stay cool, dry and odor-free—which contribute to their comfort and their confidence on and off the green."
Comfortable garments are imperative because golfers will be outside for hours. "Players need to stay comfortable no matter the conditions they face," said Freet, adding that you should research the climate and weather predictions for the golf event you are supplying. "It is so easy to think of polos for a golf outing, but so often the weather is unpredictable across the country in the spring," he said. For these unpredictable days, Freet suggested lightweight and quick-drying materials like the 100 percent polyester mesh material featured on the Genre Polo (pictured right).
These technical necessities now extend beyond polos to jackets and other outerwear meant to battle the elements while on the green. Freet listed a few must-have features for golf outerwear: ease of movement, breathability, and wind and rain protection, all of which Cutter & Buck provides. "We continually do very well with our Edge Performance Series of technical overknits. It is a great second layer that can also move on and off course easily," he said. Freet commented on the use of outerwear in golf promotions. "Outerwear can mean everything from sweaters and fleece to windwear and performance overknits," he said. "It is best to keep an open mind when a client is requesting outerwear."
A Bright Future
Golf apparel suppliers may not always take design inspiration from the runways, but they do pay attention to styles of athletes and sports teams. "Colors have definitely gone bright again, trailing the sports fashion trend that has gone all the way to neon-type colors," said Freet. "Bright blues and yellows are definitely getting great acceptance in the marketplace," he added. Tsai agreed, noting that bright colors have boosted golf apparel sales. "Our distributors have had a lot of success with many of our brighter new colors, including our 'chlorophyll,' which is a really bright green, and our 'formula red,' which is a vibrant red," he explained.
In addition to neon hues, Tsai mentioned a call for new patterns and textures on golf shirts. "From a design perspective we're also seeing the demand for a wider variety of looks when it comes to the performance category—stripes, subtle textures, bold color blocking, and a wider range of colors from understated earth tones to bold and lively spring tones," he stated.
Not everyone is a golfer, which makes selling apparel to experienced (or even inexperienced) golfers difficult. If you don't know why golfers need moisture-wicking shirts, overknit jackets or perfectly fit gloves, you can't relate the benefits to your clients. "Get educated on the usage of the items—events, uniforms, gifts and the expected season, and you can use this information to determine what type of products will make for the most satisfied customer," instructed Freet. Tsai advised distributors to think beyond golf courses. "Golf apparel is a universally accepted and popular item for both uniforms and promotional gifts. So the first tip would be to not limit your sales efforts to golf courses," he said. He also urged distributors to consider companion styles and never forget what the garments are for: performance. "I think it's also important to not only think of golf apparel in terms of men only—in fact at Tri-Mountain, we almost always offer a women's companion style that has a true feminine cut and details," he said. "Lastly, try to understand the look that your client is going for—whether it's more of a sporty look or a professional look. Depending on their taste you need to put choices in front of them that meet their taste and the functional requirements."