Going Green

By Chandra Orr

January 18, 2008 5 min read


Fairway fashions with environmentally friendly style

By Chandra Orr

Copley News Service

Listen up ladies. Ditch the madras shorts and leave that polyester polo in the closet. Golf attire is going high fashion with an eye on environmentally-friendly fabrics.

"Bamboo and eco-friendly fabrics are hot for spring," said Amy Eirew of Pete Carslon's Golf and Tennis, a top destination for those sports in Palm Desert, Calif.

From functional sports attire to high-end ready-to-wear, organically grown cotton and renewable bamboo are the wave of the future. In much the same way that synthetics like Lycra and Gore-Tex revolutionized sports apparel, nature's own fibers are revitalizing the industry - and this isn't a fleeting trend.

"The use of natural fabrics is just taking off in the golf industry, but eco-friendly fabrics are definitely here to stay," said Tina Hofer, managing director of golf apparel company Lela Designs, which bases all of their designs on environmentally friendly fabrics, including recycled polyester made from reclaimed plastic soda bottles.

Look for the following fibers to show up at a golf shop near you:


Organically grown fibers are those grown without pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers or other chemicals.

While as much as half a pound of pesticide can go into crafting a typical cotton T-shirt, organic cottons are grown with water, minimizing the environmental impact of the growing process and creating a safer, healthier environment for farm workers.

Organic cotton offers plenty in terms of performance, as well. It blends well with other fibers, has a soft feel and its natural breathability means added comfort on the course.


Growing as much as 5 to 6 feet in just 24 hours, bamboo is nature's top renewable fiber source. Bamboo requires no pesticides or chemicals to grow and is biodegradable. It's naturally mold and mildew resistant, anti-microbial and hypoallergenic.

Plus, it boasts a natural wicking ability which, unlike chemically treated fabrics, won't deteriorate over time. Because of its natural thermal regulating properties, bamboo keeps the wearer a full 2 degrees cooler than cotton.

Expect to see plenty of bamboo garments geared for golf. It's high performance and cashmere-like feel make this green fiber ideal for a day on the greens.


Hemp is nature's most durable fiber. Eight times stronger than cotton, hemp stands up to the most rugged wear and actually softens with each wash.

It is naturally insulating, absorbent, fast drying and breathable. It's also UV resistant and hypoallergenic.

Like bamboo, hemp does not require pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers - it also requires very little water, making it a smart choice for the environment.

Just because they're natural, don't expect these fibers to be boring. Designers are starting to realize that style is as important as comfort - even on the golf course.

The look these days is more luxury sportswear than khakis and a polo shirt. Women want to hit the links with a business client, then meet friends for coffee, then go directly to dinner - and they want to do it all with style.

Think of it as fashion for the 19th Hole and beyond. Whether it's meeting a few friends for drinks in the clubhouse or just catching up on errands, the day doesn't end at the 18th hole.

"There is a crossover now with lines becoming more lifestyle," Eirew said. "The design is not so rigid. (These are) clothes that you will want to wear on and off the course."

Deep shades of purple, gray, navy and Kelly green are the hottest hues this season. When combined with preppy argyles, stripes and polka dots, the look this summer is casual yet chic.

Look for styles crafted from bamboo, cotton and spandex blends, which combine the benefits of both natural fibers with the form and resiliency of spandex.

"It's all about just really stepping it up for golf course," Hofer said. "Women want to be fashionable and feel good about what they're wearing, so the curve is definitely toward lifestyle and luxury."

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