There’s an old joke, attributable, as I recall, to Bob Hope (who else?), that goes something like this:
“When I play golf, I only shoot in the 80s. If it’s any colder than that, I stay home.”
While my blood isn’t quite that thin yet, I do understand the desire to remain indoors rather than tee it up when it’s cold outside. In fact, as I get older, I’m getting to the point that I won’t play if the temperature is lower than my age. Which is why I was excited—you could even say “hot”—to field-test some new pieces of golf outerwear that promised to bring the heat to my game.
The manufacturer, a company called Mobile Warming, came out of the ski industry, where they are always trying to ward off the chill. I tried one of their vests as well as a rain jacket, each fitted with three almost imperceptible heating panels placed within the layers of the garment. The panels—which are positioned over the chest and back—have steel-alloy/fiber elements and plug into a small battery that slips into a pouch inside one of the pockets. The battery has four settings and, depending on how hot you want to be, lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge. However, if you’re like me, you’ll choose one of the higher settings, so expect 3 to 5 hours of toast with your tee.
How hot do they get? Pretty hot, certainly enough to bring real comfort on a raw day to the body’s core. I used the vest during a week-long golf trip to Ireland, and it worked as advertised (and was very comfortable and warming, albeit less so, when unplugged, too). Same with the jacket, although there are other pieces of rainwear on the market that are lighter weight and have a more natural finish. Mobile Warming makes a softshell jacket, which I didn’t try, that looks to be lighter and less bulky but is not waterproof.
One warning: If you now wear a couple of layers for cold-weather play, the Mobile Warming gear initially may be disappointing. Wear two or three shirts—say a sweater over a turtleneck over a base—and you probably won’t feel much heat from the jacket or vest on top. I didn’t feel any heat when I had more than a layer or two between me and the heat panels. You’ll have to determine your best cold-weather combinations.
The tops are available in a choice of colors and sizes, and even a special women’s fit. The rain jacket is a waterproof, windproof, and breathable technical polyester that has been seam-sealed; the vest and softshell jacket are made of a four-way-stretchable fabric called Windshark that is lightweight, windproof, and breathable. Mobile Warming worked with a number of PGA pros who helped design the shape and fit to suit golf’s somewhat unusual motions.
Mobile Warming also makes heated outerwear for other outdoor sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, hunting, and motorsports. Their pieces are hot stuff when taking a long walk on a brisk day, on or off the course. You can find them in on- and off-course golf shops, and through the company's website below.