la serna water polo made to suit a golf swing
Nor would he trade his golf cart for a horse.
Not without incurring the wrath of the greenskeeper.
Yet guys routinely show up on the golf course wearing classic polo shirts knit shirts with set in sleeves that originally were designed for polo players. A smarter choice for golfers would be a knit shirt with raglan sleeves.
The reason? Raglan sleeves, which were popular on the links five decades ago, are designed with the seams running from armpit to neck on the diagonal an angle that echoes the plane of the golf swing. This provides the golfer with a fit that seems tailor made for comfort and freedom of movement.
A traditional polo shirt has a horizontal seam across the top of the shoulder and vertical seams from armpit to shoulder, a design more in line with a polo player’s swing. For golfers, those right angle seams can be irritating which is one reason they are often seen hitching the top of their sleeves up onto their shoulders before playing a shot. They are moving those pesky seams out of the way.
Several top players are on the leading edge of the raglan sleeve trend. Open winner Retief Goosen, wearing a black and white model from AHEAD, and Masters champ Zach Johnson in an orange and white design from Dunning. Even Tiger Woods, the world’s top player, was seen sporting a grass green raglan shirt from Nike during the third round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta in late September.
In golfing circles, Tiger’s choice “was the most important fashion statement of the year,” says Auke Hempenius, style guru at Golf Marketing Services in Longwood.
When Tiger chose to wear a mock neck shirt in PGA Tour competition in 2001, Nike saw sales increase 300 plus percent, says Hempenius.
It practically took an Act of Congress to allow mock necks onto the fairways of most country clubs, he says. But the raglan shirt should meet with a warmer welcome. After all, it was the favorite style of the great Ben Hogan, a very dapper dresser, in the 1940s and ’50s.
Since then apart from a brief moment of popularity in the 1970s raglan shirts have been pretty much missing from the golf scene. But in the new millennium, as high tech fabrics moved to golf from more athletic sports such as basketball and soccer, so did raglan styling. Roomy and comfortable, raglan sleeves are a key element in performance athletic gear such as team jerseys, warm up jackets and sweatshirts.
Goosen’s black and white shirt exemplifies the marriage between performance fabrics and raglan styling, says Jim Keenan, director of marketing for AHEAD apparel.
“We took the performance benefits of high tech polyester and combined them with the comfort, feel and care of high grade cotton. Add the freedom of movement that a raglan sleeve offers, you have a winning combination,” says Keenan.
But change happens slowly in golfing circles. Raglan sleeve shirts won’t be replacing classic polos overnight. In fact, no raglan shirts are on order for next spring at Edwin Watts Golf on Orlando’s Turkey Lake Road, the national chain’s largest store. But at upscale pro shops such as the one at Grand Cypress Golf Club, the style is gaining a toehold.
“I’m definitely seeing more raglan sleeves now than ever before,” says Jeremy Craft, head golf pro and buyer at the club. “They have a little more character. They’re more out of the norm. We will bring some in for spring, especially in the higher end lines like Bobby Jones.”