One of the perks of writing about golf is the opportunity to test products of various kinds. Company marketers and PR people pitching these items have an agenda, of course: they want as much (favorable) coverage of their and their clients' wares as possible, so attached to their offer is the hope of some sort of editorial approval soon after.
But this dynamic is critically flawed. To me, one of the most important factors in whether a given product is worthy of writing about has always been durability.
If I declared a pair of golf slacks worthy a week after receiving them, only to find them falling apart less than a year later, my authority on that product and others would be suspect.
I cannot tell you how many golf clothes look great on the rack but simply do not hold up after a couple trips through the wash. Especially as turn-and-burn "fast fashion" invades the garment business, clothes and other items that are built to last become rarer all the time.
Having had a chance to actually use the following products for a while, I am confident in recommending them to you now. You'll notice that despite having debuted at least a year or more ago, they remain readily available.
Quality still breeds longevity.
A stable base
More than perhaps any type of product, golf shoes seem to be the least consistent from brand to brand as far as longevity is concerned. My pair of ECCO Biom COOL PRO shoes ($219) is the best pair of the three I've owned from the Danish company's catalog. Even though I've had mine for more than two years, they remain as comfortable - and, most importantly, waterproof, thanks to a GORE-TEX surround - as when I first wore them.
Golf socks: the short and the long
Good socks are the unsung heroes of the serious golfer's wardrobe. Materials-wise, I've become a total believer in wool as the medium for any fair-weather sock. Its naturally breathable characteristics separate it from the pack even more on really hot, humid golf days (and we have about 180 of them per year here in Florida). I swear by the several pairs of Kentwool ankle socks ($21.95/pair) I've had in my drawer for five-plus years. I have worn the heck out of them, but they still launder beautifully.
I'll make a notable exception to my loyalty to wool socks when I'm walking a course and wearing long pants. In those circumstances, I opt for a pair of long, very snug compression socks ($49.95/pair) made by CEP. It's a struggle to pull them on and off, but the effort is well worth it because they hug my calves and feet in such a way that I feel far less fatigue at the end of the round than I would with an ordinary pair of long socks. They're also an asset on long plane trips (remember those?).
Non-bank-breaking rain gear
I have had the opportunity to sample a few brands of rain gear in recent years and have been surprised at the variation in true waterproof-ness in the market, even among fairly high-priced brands. I will say Galvin Green is the absolute best, but it's also the most expensive; buying their top-of-the-range jacket and pants can easily run you $800 or more combined, but that premium virtually guarantees you will never get wet.
Most golfers don't play in enough truly bad weather to justify that level of expense, so I've found it worthwhile to survey the best of the more middle price range.
Among the brands I've been able to actually wear without fail in challenging weather, Galway Bay has stood out for both its quality and its price. The jacket and pants I have been using retail for $299 and $184, respectively. On a two-week stay in South Carolina over the holidays, I wore the pants every day when highs were below 55 or so and I was comfortable and dry every time. I didn't even touch the khakis I'd brought.
A front-of-closet pullover
Great clothing items tend to float to the front of my closet and cause others to sit out of commission. That's been exactly the case with a Galvin Green (yes, them again) "Drake" pullover ($129) I received at their PGA Show-week media day in 2019. The quilted weave of their proprietary INSULA fabric, made from recycled plastic, makes it both one of the thinnest and the warmest such pieces I've ever worn, and the construction of it enables it to stretch in all directions. This mean it bothers my golf swing far less than any other outer layer I've worn, too. Like much of Galvin Green's apparel, it's not cheap but it is a winner.
C-B-D spells relief?
The major project of my 2020 PGA Show was to learn about CBD and its inroads into the golf industry. Touted with various levels of fervor ranging from a doctor's mild recommendation to that of a desperate street vendor pushing a supposed miracle cure, CBD is supposed to be a natural pain-reliever and potential mood-calmer. Those two notions are catnip to golfers.
I was offered several samples at last year's Show, and one product that has stood out has been a CBD-infused topical roll-on cream ($19.99) made by industry giant MedTerra. In the interest of full disclosure, its main endorsement comes not from me, but my wife, who insists it has helped mitigate discomfort in both her knees and shoulders.