There came a point in his life – many years ago- when Rick Martin got tired of buying Bobby Jones golf shirts at his local pro shop, washing them once and then giving them to his son. There had to be a fabric out there – he thought – that could hold up to multiple washes and still remain looking respectable.
After years of researching various types of yarns and developing finishes, he was ready to get started and show others in the garment industry that a workable fabric did exist and style conscious golfers would be willing to pay a little more (OK, more than a little) for it.
In 1995 Rick Martin founded Fairway and Greene, a very successful line of men’s and women’s golf wear. After selling the company in 2006 to a corporate investment group, Martin took 6 years off and relaxed; at least as best he could. During that time he saw the industry change from traditional coloring to a very dull, citrusy color palette. He also noticed that many shirts on the market – including golf shirts – had a lot of wrinkling and a prewashed look, something that didn’t sit right with him. So, after some urging from daughter Teri he was back at it and Martin Golf Apparel was born.
Martin Golf Apparel sells 100% Peruvian Pima cotton shirts; a cotton he believes to be the best in the world. His label can only be found at private clubs, a place where members understand and appreciate fine cotton shirts and natural fibers. They are certainly more accustomed to traditional colors that are less like bowling shirts.
Martin never has been a fan of polyester shirts. Many golf shirts on the market today tout a “quick dry” quality that doesn’t “wick” moisture away from the body and onto the shirt. They tend to let the sweat stay on your body, causing it to run down onto your shorts and trousers, which more times than not are cotton and absorb the moisture causing interesting looking stains in unmentionable areas. Polyester also carries body odor that may be hard to get out of the fabric. In fact he says he has only worn one once in his life. It was at a charity golf outing. There were six teams in the field and someone got the idea to color code each team. Immediately after finishing his round, Martin went in the locker room, peeled the shirt off and gave it away. Never again, he says!
While it is true that you will pay a little more (OK, more than a little) for one of his shirts, you can rest assured that it is made to last – 6-8 years in all likelihood. It’s all in the way it’s constructed. If you buy an extra-large, it’s going to stay an extra-large for as long as you have it around. Most cotton shirts will shrink 8-9%; theirs shrinks about 2% over the life of the garment. They also use what’s called a double-lock collar, something that has to do with the types of yarns and number of ends they use. The collars will never curl. Thirdly, they use a double mercerization process which gives the shirt an incredible sheen and stability.
The company also offers men’s sweaters which are subject to the same double mercerization process. This produces a wonderful luster, something you don’t usually find in a cotton sweater. Each sweater is knitted as one sweater, not cut in pieces and then sewn together.
As of now, the company only offers men’s golf shirts and sweaters. The goal is to soon add a women’s line but, with women having more discriminating taste Martin wants to be able to provide a top-notch product that women will want to buy in more than one color. Martin refers to his garments as “a cut above” meaning they can be worn for a lot more than just a round of golf.
As the word gets out that Martin is back in the business, the list of clients continues to grow. Original plans were to start delivering product to customers this past January but with demand being so high, they actually started deliveries in November 2011.
I have worn my new Martin Golf Apparel shirt several times now and it still looks as new as the day I bought it; it fits the same too. Bright (not neon) colors with subtle striping in a fabric that keeps sweat off my body is something I look for in a golf shirt; it looks like I’ve found my source. Now I just have to find a club to join and then save my pennies because these shirts sell for a little more (OK, more than a little)! Retail will be around $80 – $85 but when you weigh that against the fact you will probably have it for many years to come, I think it’s worth it.
For more information on Martin Golf Apparel you can visit their website www.martingolfapparel.com or call customer service at 877-222-8488.