Unless your name is Lauren, Norman, or Ashworth, chances are it’s not well known in the golf-apparel business. But, the fact is, people behind the scenes deserve most of the credit for what you wear. Like Rick Martin.
Never heard of him? For years he was a private-label manufacturer making shirts for Eddie Bauer, Lands’ End, and others. Then he started and ran Fairway & Greene. Then he retired but says seeing how PGA Tour players dress today convinced him to get back in the game.
“The outfits had such a ‘costume’ feel,” Martin says, “and also a stifling uniformity. Each piece was clearly designed to be worn only with pieces from the same collection. It’s great for TV but not my foursome.”
So he’s back, and now it’s his name on the label.
Martin Golf makes golf shirts and sweaters with natural fibers and what Martin calls “natural colors,” which, he says, will work with whatever else you own. Take a look at players from the past—like Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson—and you see what Martin likes: “gentlemen who always looked well put together but never contrived.”
The color choices are broad but classic, many in what the company calls the British Regimental Collection, its palette inspired by the bright, manly hues of British military uniforms. There’s also a strong use of light and dark charcoal shades to set off the military tints. The Vineyard Collection uses more “earthy” tones. Throughout, Martin’s aim is to make his product “as timeless as the game.”
But timeless is not old-fashioned, and Martin Golf is out in front using the latest pima-cotton yarns and high-tech finishes to create a luster that will last as long as the shirt, yet hold their color after prolonged exposure to the sun and resist shrinking. (Martin thinks many golfers, anticipating dramatic shrinkage, buy shirts that are too big.) The sweaters also feature natural fibers like merino and alpaca.
Martin knows his customer, the club member who gets around and sees the finest product in the best shops. (“He has a lot of khaki in his closet so every item I make is made to work with that.”) His shirts and sweaters are sold only at private clubs. “But you can’t sell all the great clubs the same thing so we try to keep different categories of clubs in mind when we design the shirts.
"I’d been out of the business for five years and had no desire to come back in until my daughter convinced me that the marketplace had abandoned the intensity of pure-finished items. The emphasis on cotton had been diluted. There wasn’t much attention to technical improvements. Nobody was doing this anymore.”
$80–85 (shirts); $170–240 (sweaters) martingolfapparel.com