Different Gear . . . For Different Winter Weather Conditions

While half of the country is in the middle of their respective off-seasons, there are many MyGolfSpy die-hards that can still tee it up on the weekends, even in February. The rest of us are gearing up for the start of the 2013 PGA Tour season, because it’s as close as we’ll come to golf for a few more months.

In this article, I examine outwear options from Fairway & Greene, Sun Mountain, and Zero Restriction. All pieces of outwear featured are for differing weather conditions and provide you with various options to fit the elements you're trying to combat.

Grab a cup of something warm, and have a look around.

Baruffa Merino Multi Raker Wind-Sweater

I’ve seen the question posed a lot recently around the internet: “What is the warmest outerwear piece, other than a jacket.” Golf specific jackets have progressed nicely in the last ten years. Their fit is more contoured to the body, the material is quieter, and the fabric is designed not to bunch when putting. But let’s face it, a jacket is usually less desirable than a sweater/pullover almost 100% of the time. They’re softer, less restrictive, and just feel better during the athletic movements of the golf swing. Comparatively, when paired with the right layering system, you end up being just as warm, if not warmer.

The Fairway & Greene, Baruffa Merino Multi Raker, is a classically styled wind-sweater designed to be a toasty final layer. As the name suggests, this piece is made from 100% Italian Merino wool outer shell. On the inside, you’ll find a nylon wind wall liner to keep the cold out, and the heat contained. When paired with one or two additional layers underneath, you’ll be hard pressed to find a warmer combination of style and function. Traditional, elegant, and well made.

The fit of this wind-sweater from Fairway & Greene is true to size and I am confident you can order this in your normal size if you’re planning to wear a polo or compression fit base layer beneath this. However, this is true to size for a normal sweater (not like a pullover jacket) worn usually with only one additional layer underneath.

If either your first or second layers have much bulk to them, you’ll want to go up one size to give yourself some added room. I recommend reserving this piece solely for golf or outdoor activity only as the wind-wall will definitely be too warm to layer indoors. Perfect for temps of 55 degrees or below when layered, but too warm for the office at normal room temperature. Being 100% Merino wool, it’s hand-wash or dry clean only.

3-Piece Layering System

Zero Restriction is a brand that’s been around for a while now, known for it’s premium outwear line. It’s a unique company in that it was started by a golfer, for golfers. Zero Restriction first opened it’s doors 1991 and converted an old barn into their factory.

Their goal? To set new standards for golf apparel with innovation and technology. Over the years, I believe they have accomplished their goal, and then some. Zero Restriction prides themselves on perfecting the ergonomics of their fit, and continue to develop their own fabrics. This process sets Zero Restriction products apart so they do not look like the rest of their competition with a focus on waterproofing, breathability, and unrestricted motion. Their products are constantly evolving, and remain true to the game their products were designed for.

Power Torque Mix Pullover

The Power Torque “Mix” Pullover is a design that has been in the Zero Restriction line that has been updated over time (It’s not easy bustin’ out rhymes in product previews.) The Mix is a windproof, water resistant final layer, pullover jacket. One of the features patented (pending) by ZR is the “Motion Tuned Technology,” which provides unrestricted freedom of movement during the golf swing.

The technology (“Power Torque Back”) has stretch panels that are no doubt apparent when this jacket is worn and during the full swing. However, this unrestricted feel is only as good as the layers you’re using underneath this top layer.  According to Zero Restriction: “ZR has engineered critical points on a garment to allow a greater range of motion than any other garment on the market. The most significant areas for its use are at the cuff, the shoulder, and across the back. ZR outerwear feels like it isn’t there...”

The Zipper on the front of the Mix is inverted, and incorporates a “storm flap” when unzipped to maximize wind/water protection. When completely zipped, the Mix has a high-collar design to mitigate the elements as well. The chest pocket also includes a reinforced zipper to secure pocket contents. Although, I am never really sure what I should put in this pocket. Anything with some weight to it seems to create unwanted hang in that pocket location so it’s usually left empty. If walking, it’s perfect spot for the scorecard.

The fit and finish of this jacket feels very well made, yet is incredibly light. I found this jacket to fit true to size for a pullover in a size large, with room to spare for layering. Mechanisms to adjust for size at the sleeve cuffs and waist. The Mix hangs relatively short for a pullover, just below the belt. This length I have found to be more desirable that anything else hanging longer.

Airflow-Top Zip Long-Sleeve

The Airflow Top Zip Long Sleeve is a light weight pullover that can serve as a warm mid-layer, or by itself when waterproofing is nonessential. This pullover embraces the soft and quiet outwear that was nonexistent just a few years ago. The Airflow combines breathable stretch knit fabric that is coated with “DWR,” Durable Water Repellent, a coating added to the fabric at the factory for water resistance.

This is a quarter-zip piece with a stand-up collar for added warmth. The cuffs are soft fitting nicely without a mechanism to tighten or loosen the diameter. In a size large, this fits true to size with room for both a base layer and even an added golf shirt as well. Warm, soft, and both wind/water resistance provide an exceptional pullover from Zero Restriction.

z400 Long Sleeve Tee

The conclusion of this layering system really is the beginning. The z400 is the base or first layer offering in this three-piece layering system from Zero Restriction. The fabric is designed to wick moisture, and dry rapidly when worn on the skin. Cuffs on this piece are ribbed to fine tune the fit. The z400 incorporates the “Revolution” shoulder design for ease of movement during the full swing.

If you haven’t noticed the theme by now, I should hang up this writing gig. Zero Restriction’s focus is on designs specific to the golf swing so there is literally, well, zero restriction. The z400 incorporates “ZR 290x technology which according to Zero Restriction is: “Performance technology [that] harnesses specific formulations of the bio-energy and infuses them into the fabric of the garment, dramatically enhancing the shirt’s bioactivity. ZR 290x performance technology us directed toward channeling and maximizing the core energy your body requires to perform at the highest level.”

To be quite honest with you, I have no idea what that means. But, I can tell you this shirt feels fantastic against the skin, and whatever it means, it seems to work well. In a size large, this is an athletic, form-fitted piece. It’s designed to fit close, but is by no means a compression fit. Again, warm, soft, quiet, and comfortable as a base layer or worn underneath a golf shirt.

Headwind Long-Sleeve Pullover

Sun Mountain is a company most recognized for their golf bags. Let’s face it, you’ll be hard pressed to find negative press for their bags, and year after year, they never disappoint. Added to this notoriety to complement their bags are the popular push cart selections. Sun Mountain also has a full line of golf specific outwear and apparel.

As a consumer, I have always appreciated the way Sun Mountain product is presented on their website. Although I have not yet had the experience myself, reviews of their customer service, and product warranty are always glowing. As a longtime customer of their bags (S1) and push carts (Micro Cart) , I was looking forward to giving their outwear some use.

The Headwind pullover by Sun Mountain is a neat piece of outwear. This wind-shirt is designed with soft and quiet microfiber with a Durable Water Repellent finish. The Headwind incorporates the Rain Flex insert, a stretchable, breathable design at the back and through the shoulders to enhance freedom of movement as well as water resistance. Adjustable sleeve cuffs and shock cord waist adjustment allow for a custom fit. A stand-up collar and hand warmer pockets can be utilized to further fend off the wind. In a size large, this fits perfect over a base layer/golf shirt combination.

The aspect I find most appealing about the Headwind is the weight and feel of the fabric. It doesn’t feel like a pullover “jacket” at all, and you may even forget you have it on. The Headwind feels like a long-sleeved shirt when worn but combines all the performance benefits of a windproof jacket. These design elements are important to be because this is the style of jacket I wear most in Minnesota.

Through the spring, early summer, as well as early fall, the Headwind is worn to the course, and much of the front nine as I typically play early in the morning. The warmth it provides, as well as the wind protection are just the right mix when I play most, and is why this is the most used piece. As the temperature rises, this fits effortlessly into the bag without adding bulk.

So, there you have it, some options to choose from when selecting your cold weather gear.  Depending on the forecast, I used each piece during the late fall golf season here in Minnesota that lasted until Thanksgiving this year.  All of which provide for a minimally restricted full swing.  More often than not, I find myself choosing the layering options that are progressively removed during the round, then added back on as I near 18.  Seems to provide the most versatile combination for cold weather as the sun rises and sets quickly.  Depending on your area of the country or intended use, I believe you will find something that suits your needs.