Stay cool & look good with these high-tech sportswear fabrics

Ah, the long, hot days of summer! There's nothing like squeezing in a game at the end of a workday but hitting the links when temperatures soar can be daunting. Yet, when precious golf time is at stake, I always find a way to persevere through the heat. And as a dedicated golf fashionista, I make it a point to look my best while doing it. This story will take you beyond the cliché advice of sunscreen, light colors, and wide-brimmed hats. Today's golf apparel is packed with innovative features like cooling, UPF sun protection, moisture-wicking, and even odor control. But do these claims really hold up? How exactly do they work?

 Let me tell you, these claims are not just marketing hype. Say goodbye to sweat-soaked cotton clinging to your skin, as we have entered the world of performance fabrics. Nike pioneered this shift in 1991 with their Dri-Fit technology, which introduced moisture-wicking fabrics that keep you dry and comfortable by drawing sweat away from your body to the fabric’s surface, where it evaporates. Adidas joined the game in 2002 with ClimaCool, and this science keeps evolving.

 Today, many golf fashion brands boast advanced fabric technology, often with unique and proprietary textile structures. Since these moisture-wicking fabrics pull sweat away from your skin and dry quickly, the fabric stays light and comfortable. Top fibers used for these purposes include polyester, nylon, polypropylene, bamboo, Tencel, Spandex, and Coolmax, often blended for maximum performance.

 Moisture Wicking: Advanced technology in fabrics allow air to flow through more freely. This open weave or aerated fabric is what helps hot air escape from your body and let cooler air in, creating breathability. The long mesh underarm strips in ladies tops is a stroke of genius. They make long sleeve sun protection shirts feel as cool as sleeveless ones.

 Cooling: An emerging technology, sometimes called “smart fabric” or “advanced textile”, converts sweat into cooling properties. The fabric absorbs the sweat, and as it changes phases, converts it to properties that create a cooling sensation on the skin.

 Odor Control: Many of the same fabric properties that enhance moisture control also help with odor control. When manufacturers add antimicrobial properties, you'll stay fresh as the morning dew, even when you hit the 19th hole.

 UPF Protection: Seeing UPF on a tag might make you wonder if all fabrics protect from the sun. Not quite. High-performance synthetic fibers with UV-blocking additives (like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) absorb or reflect UV radiation. Some fabrics are dyed with UV-absorbing dyes or undergo finishing treatments to enhance UV protection. Once made, the fabric undergoes testing to determine its UPF rating, a measure of how effectively it blocks UV radiation.

 I recently chatted with my good friend Mike Elliott, President of Dunning Golf, a company known as a fabric innovator. Cooling performance fabrics are a priority for Dunning. This season’s offerings include Coolmax and a unique “Ventilated” collection, making play in hot climates feel remarkably cool. These styles feature thousands of tiny, perforated holes for amazing lightweight breathability. Overheating should not be the reason why you score poorly in this collection!

 Other leaders in cooling fabric technology include Ibkul, which uses a multifunctional moisture sensor fabric called Icefil. Ibkul’s Icefil fabric converts perspiration to refrigerant, keeping you cool and odor-free on warm days.

 SanSoleil is known for their UV 50+ protection fabrics and offers nine different types of tech fabrics, including SolTek ICE Melange, a blend of high-tech cooling polyester and spandex fibers in a heathered fabric for comfort and functionality.

 BloqUV, another market leader in sun protection, features BloqTek, a proprietary fabric with a minimum UPF 50 that blocks 98% of UVA/UVB rays. Their fabrics are chemical-free and unaffected by laundering, earning the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, which reassures those concerned about their skin.

 Another recipient of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal is UVSkinz. Founded by Rhonda Sparks, who lost her husband to skin cancer at age 32, UVSkinz offers UPF 50+ golf apparel, a great collection of wide-brimmed hats, and bamboo sun sleeves to protect arms when wearing short sleeve shirts.

 So, as the summer sun beats down and the fairways call out, enjoy wearing the latest high-tech fabrics and experience how cutting-edge golf fashion can add real coolness to your game. From Icefil’s remarkable conversion of perspiration to refrigerant to BloqTek’s chemical-free UV protection, brands are redefining what it means to stay cool and look good on the golf course. Here’s to staying comfortable and protected (and a golf fashionista) all summer long.