ORLANDO, Fla. - "Look good, play good."
Dicey grammar aside, it's a well-worn phrase among golfers who like to look sharp - one with which Kurt Kitayama would likely agree. The 30-year-old from California captured the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational - his first PGA Tour victory - over a stacked field of pursuers that included Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and more on Sunday at Bay Hill.
Among several logos the former UNLV golfer sports, the stylized "R" on his chest represents that of his sponsoring apparel brand, Chervò.
It's far from a household name, but it's an interesting company with a timely story.
Chervó golf apparel: quick review
Founded 40 years ago, Chervò hails from Verona, Italy. It is world-renowned as the home of world-class fashion, but Italy is not exactly a hotbed of golf. With the Ryder Cup coming to Rome later this year, however, Chervò may be poised for something of a breakout.
Brothers Manfred and Peter Erlacher, originally conceived Chervò as a skiwear brand. Peter, who heads up design, competed for and coached the Italian national skiing team. With a name that evokes graceful movement (cervo is Italian for "deer"), Chervò in its early years carved out a niche by parlaying luxury looks and pricing with a technological edge, with performance being the main goal. The Erlachers entered the golf apparel space in 1991, focusing on making rain gear that was waterproof, breathable and quiet during a golf swing.
Active in the United States since 2013, Chervò's current golf apparel offering centers around staple polos and pants like those Kitayama wears. On Sunday, he was dressed in a smart navy Amari polo ($187) and white Santino pants ($253).
Chervò's pricing is a sizable step up from what most golfers might typically be willing to pay at outlet or even department stores, but there's a reason beyond other luxury brands' splashy marketing and celebrity influencers. Proprietary fabric technologies - 19 of them in total - sit at the core of their offering, and several of them, combined with an aversion to common textiles, extends to Chervò's golf apparel. That is noteworthy at a time when the vast majority of non-cotton golf shirts are made of polyester, feel largely the same from brand to brand and don't launder particularly well past their first few trips through the washing machine and dryer.
The Arlan shirt ($160) and Gasparino shorts ($155) Chervó sent me last month from their 2022 collection eschew polyester completely, in favor of polyamide. Without conjuring up bad memories of high-school chemistry class, here are some broad strokes: polyamide is more durable, stretchier and smoother-feeling than polyester. It is also more expensive to produce than polyester, which explains the elevated pricing. Chervò also produces smaller quantities of items, putting its distribution strategy a bit closer to the limited-drop trend that is increasingly popular in golf apparel. They are in some golf club pro shops and have a brick-and-mortar retail shop in North Palm Beach, Fla.
It's a classic quality-vs-quantity proposition: if you are content to keep your golf wardrobe on the smaller side, your budget may tolerate Chervò's higher costs. Plus, their refreshingly tame color/pattern palette all but ensures you should look classy for a long time, rather than trendy for now.
Having had a chance to wear my Chervò shirt and shorts for one round, it was a promising first experience. On a warm Florida Saturday, they did their job: they stretched well, stayed in place and looked and felt nice. Knowing polyamide's reputation for durability, I fully expect both to launder better than my polyester golf shirts. I like golf products that last, and hope Chervò's apparel proves as durable as I have been led to believe.
Finally, if you're thinking of taking the plunge and trying Chervò's golf apparel for yourself, I would recommend you order a full size larger shirt than you normally would. I typically wear size Large, and Chervò's XL turns out to be the size that fits me correctly.
Anyone know what brand shoes Kurt K. wore on Sunday at the A. Palmer?