By Shari Rendall, with contributions from Jeffrey A. Rendall
SHELTON, CT -- It's difficult setting exceptionally high standards, because sometimes you must travel the earth to meet them.
That's exactly what they've done at Fairway & Greene, based in Shelton, Connecticut. The company was founded in 1995 by Rick Martin (who continues to serve as President) with the goal of providing golf apparel of the highest quality, servicing only the finest private clubs, resorts and upscale daily fee clubs. Fairway & Greene doesn't sell discount, off course or retail. If you want to find them, you'd better head towards the high-end side of town.
Such a journey is worth it, however, considering the great lengths they've already traveled to provide a return to classic styling in golf apparel. Their mission is to "revisit golf's most classic years and bring back that simplicity to today's golf apparel. Clothes inspired by a time when players didn't play for huge purses or endorsements, but were always impeccably dressed and behaved."
|Men's Blue Stack.|
Fairway & Greene has achieved distinction through its diverse lines of upper-end golf clothing, but also through its adherence and devotion to the materials that go into every stitch. They've traveled the globe to find what they wanted, and they'll bring it right to your golf shop.
And just as a master winemaker might use only selected grapes from specific vineyards to comprise his prized reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Fairway & Greene uses only the best cotton it's found on its many and varied travels -- Pima cotton from the fields of Peru.
Probably not a place you'd expect to find the essence of some of the finest golf apparel at the best clubs across the country, but that's exactly where it comes from. And while most of us probably wouldn't think twice about the merits of Juan Valdez personally selecting coffee beans from the hills of Columbia, it makes just as much sense for Fairway & Greene to travel a little farther south and west in South America to find the best in cotton.
|Women's Orange Argyle|
Teri Schleifer, Fairway & Greene's Vice President of Merchandising and Product Design, explains: "Pima cotton is prized all around the world as a luxury fiber because of its silky soft feel and brilliant luster. The silky soft feel is a result of the excellent growing conditions in the northern coastal valleys where it is cultivated. Peruvian pima cotton is harvested by hand, resulting in a brilliant white shade that can be easily dyed."
You probably never thought there'd be similarities between wine grapes and cotton, though it seems there's a lot to learn on just about everything. Soil conditions, the prevailing wind and exposure to sunlight separates the best vineyards from those growing Thompson's Seedless grapes, destined for the produce section in your discount grocery store. Similarly, it now appears as if there's a method behind the madness for cotton growing, separating the folks peddling shirts at golf wholesalers from those at the best clubs.
Looks are often deceiving, and there's more to the Pima cotton process, too. Schleifer continues: "Cotton harvested industrially leaves scratchy impurities, which affects smoothness and creates a yellowish color to the fiber. The fiber is classified as luxury because of its 1 3/8" length -- ordinary cottons measure half to three quarters as much in length."
Not only does the fiber look great, it's durable too. "This fabric can be easily hand-washed or dry-cleaned, is practical and easy to maintain and will last through many years of use," Schleifer said.
|Fairway & Greene is well known for stripes and vivid solids.|
One thing we've noticed through prolonged use of golf shirts -- they wear out fairly quickly. You can buy cotton business shirts, and with proper care, they'll last a good long time -- not so with the 'ordinary' golf shirts. As with many things in life, you tend to get what you pay for. But it's a rare occasion where they'll continue to look good for more than a season. Fairway &
Greene seems to have solved that problem.
Schleifer describes the process: "Fairway and Greene double mercerizes the Pima it produces into its golf shirts and sweaters. First, the raw yarn is gassed or singed as it runs from its raw state through a small flame onto the spools for knitting. This gassing removes any impurities from harvesting. The end result is a yarn that is in near perfect condition for taking dye and knitting."
There's more: "The yarn is then bathed in a chemical finish, in which the cotton is treated with a cold concentrated solution of caustic soda while under high tension. This procedure swells the fibers, which increases its strength, durability, affinity with dyes, reducing shrinkage and resulting in yarn with a silk-like hand and brilliance. After the yarn is knitted into fabric form, the fabric is mercerized again -- sealing in the dye, finish and appearance," Schleifer added.
|Several looks in the women's line.|
You've got to figure a lot of technological doohickeys go into making the newest and most advanced golf equipment -- with some learned scientists sitting at work benches pondering new alloys and mathematical formulas, trying earnestly to stretch a few more yards of distance into the product, yet still conform to USGA standards.
But who would've thought that the very clothes on your back are thought out in the same way? The minds behind Fairway & Greene certainly have done their homework.
'Mercerization'* is the key to all of it. "Mercerization requires specialized skills and costly machinery. There's a high potential waste factor and the process is expensive due to the handling procedures. Therefore, most manufacturers opt for a quicker and cheaper cotton and finish," Schleifer said.
Our first impressions of Fairway & Greene were that the styles were very traditional (a versatile, casual style with nice lines, suitable for the clubhouse, golf course, or business casual environments), and that the fabric looked like it was something other than cotton. It's incredibly soft to the touch, and has a luster that will surprise you.
|Men's Three Button Marigold Sweater|
In contrast to many cotton garments, when washed, the Fairway & Greene products come out looking as crisp as if they were brand new and ready to wear -- which is a refreshing change from other shirts that look as though they just emerged from a wrinkling machine. Even after a round of golf, the Fairway & Greene apparel was not wrinkled or drenched from sweat -- they breathe well.
You'll feel as comfortable in the shirts as you ever have, and certainly be looking the part on the links -- even if your golf game may not fit the bill.
We aren't the only ones taking notice. Fairway & Greene recently announced a new partnership with NBC Sports, to outfit the network's entire golf broadcast and production teams. "NBC has long been considered the gold standard in televised sports, and we're excited to work with the outstanding people at NBC on a long partnership," said Todd Martin, Fairway & Greene's Vice President of Marketing.
Now you'll be seeing Johnny Miller & crew sporting the same Pima cotton duds that you can purchase from your club's pro shop. Talk about professionalism through association.
|Women's Purple Sweater|
And although you may not always play like a pro, there's a certain special quality to looking like one. That's important when accompanying a member of the club to a social golf outing, or entertaining guests. Lucky for us, Fairway & Greene has traveled the earth to make sure their expectations were met -- taking ours with them, along the way.
* Straight from Webster's New World Dictionary: Mercerize -- to treat (cotton thread or fabric) under tension with a caustic soda solution in order to strengthen it, give it a silky luster, and make it more receptive to dyes.
Note: See links below for more product reviews.
Fairway & Greene
Available only in the finest club and resort pro shops.
For styles and colors, consult their website: www.fairwayandgreene.com
President: Rick Martin
Vice President of Merchandising and Product Design: Teri Schleifer
Vice President of Marketing and Sales: Todd Martin
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