Written by: Stephen Pizinger for MyGolfSpy.com
The year is 2012, and it’s difficult to walk into any pro shop or golf specialty store to find a 100% cotton golf shirt. If you do, you’re lucky if the shirt looks and fits the same after five wash cycles. It’s happening more often it seems, I will read members of the forums asking where they can find a quality cotton golf shirt. The readership recommendations seem to be few, they’re tough to find.
Martin Golf Apparel is a new golf apparel company that offers and builds upon what the owner, Rick Martin, describes as the quintessential fabric for any active participation. Cotton. Rick Martin founded the Fairway and Greene golf apparel company back in the early 1990’s and his son, Todd Martin is currently the President of Peter Millar golf. As Rick Martin will tell you, Martin Golf is a new company, but it’s clear he’s not new to the apparel business. A business he’s been in for 38 years. He describes himself as an apparel guy, and a golfer by hobby.
In talking with Rick Martin, it’s clear he’s a man of tradition, and he’s built his company around tradition. He believes the golf apparel offerings in the marketplace today are similar to the offerings of the mid 1990’s. Martin said they are made of loud prints and panels that have a NASCAR feel to them. Martin said, “What you have is a costume look and feel”. I had not thought of the comparison to the trends of the 1990’s to the outfits of today, but I have to agree with this assessment. Additionally, the apparel market today is saturated with “tech” fabric made up of primarily polyester or polyester blends.
Two factors have played a role in the migration away from the cotton golf shirt. Stability (shrinkage) and colorfastness, not only from multiple washings, but also fading from the sunlight. Martin spent a great deal of time in an effort to combat these issues in a process he originally developed and utilizes called double mercerization. Mercerization is a process used to impregnate the yarn while securing it, which prevents shrinkage and fading. The second component to this process provides the luster, look, finish, and longevity exclusive to Martin Golf. “You would be hard pressed to find another double mercerized golf shirt in the game today.” Martin incorporates an elliptical stitch to wick moisture as well as locking process to minimize tension in the collar preventing roll.
Martin describes a simple yet effective approach his sales representatives utilize in pro shops while comparing his apparel line to others. They’ll ask the professional to pick any shirt out of their current offerings then do the same with any shirt in the Martin Golf Apparel line. Then, they will ask the professional to describe the differences of the shirts, and what makes Martin Golf a cut above the rest. Time and again, the response has been, “Wow, I see it now.” Martin said the response “Is not an accident. We didn’t say, hey lets come up with a shirt line. A lot of thought went into it and we believe we produce the best shirt in golf.”
Martin Golf Apparel cannot be found in at major retailers or even online. Their apparel is dedicated to private golf club pro shops and their focus is on the PGA Professionals responsible for operating them. “They are one of the last [apparel] specialty stores left on earth. The rest have a department store mentality focusing on trends and what the other guy is doing.” Martin wants the people responsible for selling his product to really know and understand his line so they can communicate the same to consumers. “We are not about price.”
Out of the box, these shirts passed the Martin sales representative test. I can honestly say that I have never felt a shirt like this in my lifetime. The quality of the construction, and feel of the cotton fabric is like none other. The only word that came to mind holding them in hand was, luxury. I can’t remember the last time I wore a 100% cotton golf shirt to play a round of golf. Without question, they are the best looking shirts I own when worn. I am really looking forward to testing these during the humid summer months in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, area.