GolfThreads contributor Ian Galbraith reviews Columbia Sportswear’s Golf Collection.
Ask ten people what comes to mind when you say Columbia Sportswear and I guarantee all ten will say something related to the outdoors. Now, ask five of your golfing buddies the same question and one of them might hesitantly say, “Golf apparel” or “Boo Weekley” as their voice rises to form a question. Earlier this year, I would have had a similar response, but since then I’ve discovered that Columbia is all in on golf.
Introduced in Spring 2016, Columbia is quietly becoming a force in the golf apparel industry. The brand’s golf collection is crafted to help golfers enjoy the outdoors for longer periods of time. To accomplish this, Columbia blends the latest technology in their polos, pullovers, and outerwear. By creating apparel with Columbia Sports’ DNA, the golf division has identified an untapped market. Plus, the brand has handpicked a select group of professional golfers who embody the company’s ethos and help to connect the brand with amateur players who love the outdoors.
Classic, Yet Modern Fits
Quality golf apparel combines a sharp fit and modern innovative technology and Columbia packs both of these qualities in its golf collection. I fully expected the shirt and pullovers to fit like your Dad’s golf shirts in the early 2000s—baggy with sleeves to the elbows. However, the narrow sleeves and slim cut body create a contemporary silhouette. The shirts are lightweight with just a hint of spandex for stretch and playability. Let me be clear, though, these are not the skin-tight shirts you see Jason and Rory wearing. Columbia’s polos fit like a shirt should, and there is no need to upsize or downsize. Order your normal size and hit the course in style and comfort.
Cutting Edge Fabric Technology
Columbia squeezed all the knowledge it gained from 70 years of keeping people “warm, dry, cool, and protected” into their new line of golf apparel by combining six innovative technologies to protect golfers from the elements.
• Omni-Wick: Wicks away moisture while sweating
• Omni-Shade: Blocks UV rays
• Omni-Freeze Zero: Cools and wicks simultaneously
• Omni-Heat: Keeps the body warm without extra layers
• Omni-Tech: Waterproof and windproof outerwear
• Out Dry Extreme: The ultimate in waterproof outerwear
All the polos in Columbia’s golf collection put an emphasis on keeping golfers cool by utilizing Omni-Wick, Omni-Shade, or Omni-Freeze. Omni-Shade is the most notable technology introduced by Columbia. Polos with this technology use a tight weave, UV absorbers, and UV reflectors to provide UPF 30 protection. Additionally, the polos have received the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation for the protection they provide from the sun’s harmful rays. This level of protection is vitally important to golfers who spend four to six hours in the sun during a round. After applying Aloe Vera to my back for a few days after a round last summer, my wife can attest that the normal polo shirt fabric provides inadequate protection against the sun.
For many of you, the heat is still in full swing. I promise, the temperatures will cool down in the next few months and when they do, check out Columbia pullovers and outerwear. For the layering pieces in its golf collection, the brand repurposed the technology used in its most technical outdoor gear. As I’ll discuss in more detail later, the Rhythm pullover is a lightweight quarter-zip that provides the warmth of pieces twice as thick. The tops and bottoms with leading waterproof and windproof protection keep you warm and dry, but they are also highly breathable. Sounds like something I will definitely turn to in the next couple of months.
Columbia Golf Tour Staff
Over the past 18 months, Columbia has strategically built a 12-player stable of professional golfers who embody the company’s passion. According to the company, the leadership team signed players on the PGA and Web.com Tours who love to fish, hunt, and hike during their time away from the course. Brian Harman, the winner at the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship, and Boo Weekley are the two most recognizable Columbia pros. Boo is an avid hunter and fisherman, regularly posting his latest outdoor adventures on social media. Pros who authentically connect with their sponsors and fans are refreshing and help to expand the reach of the game.
The influence from outdoor sports can also be seen in the new styles and fits Columbia has brought to the golf world. For example, the button down shirts Boo Weekly wears on the course is a style most likely to be seen on the back of a fisherman. Columbia provides multiple versions of these fishing-style shirts in its golf collection, and the polos in Columbia’s golf collection check in with respectable retail price points between $65 and $85. You won’t find any $150 polos here.
Ryan Palmer, another PGA Tour player who wears Columbia, highlights his love for the outdoors in this short video below.
Columbia Golf Favorites
The best part of these reviews is having an opportunity to test the gear you see out on the PGA Tour each week. The Omni-Wick Skins and Omni-Freeze Zero Gimme are two of my favorite polos in Columbia’s collection. The Skins polo is as soft as your favorite cotton shirt with the addition of the impressive UPF 30 sun protection and the patented wicking material built in. Contrasting chest and sleeve stripes give the Skins polo a sophisticated look that is perfect for the course or casual days in the office.
I am a sucker for dark gray polos and the color of the Gimme immediately caught my attention. The Gimme polo packages top-shelf moisture wicking, cooling, and sun protection technologies in a classic looking polo with a contrasting placket. This shirt is offered in other colors besides dark gray, but the dark gray is the best of the bunch.
The final piece of our review is the Omni-Wick Rhythm pullover. This is a lightweight and warm pullover perfect for when the temperature starts to dip during a round. Constructed with Columbia’s wicking and sun protection technologies, this pullover keeps you warm without the bulk and range of motion restrictions. There is one drawback to this pullover and this is a big one. Your spouse might start giving you long, envious glances when you wear it. Beware, she will give you a compliment or two to lull you into a false sense of security as she plots her theft. In the first week, my wife made at least three failed cracks to relocate the pullover to her side of the closet.
Columbia is still in its infancy in the world of golf and they have come out swinging for the fences. With the support and history of Columbia Sportswear behind them, I fully expect the golf division to excel by developing quality apparel with the latest technology, modern designs, and contemporary fits.
The biggest obstacle Columbia faces is converting golf’s traditionalist. By creating a golf line with a foundation of quality pieces built for the outdoors at an affordable price point, the brand will definitely resonate with a large sector of the golf world. As the professional team continues to be cultivated and the brand grows its apparel line, I am confident they will make serious inroads into the game. Columbia Golf has a bright future and I’m excited to see how it develops its product line over the next couple of seasons.