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A Quick Nine with John Ashworth, Founder of Linksoul

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Ashworth is as iconic a name as there can be in the golf world. Virtually every pro shop and golf retail store has carried the brand, which set the standard for on-course style and performance.

In this edition of A Quick Nine, John Ashworth talks about his philosophy for golf fashion, his meteoric rise at Ashworth and his new company, Linksoul, which is bringing the golf lifestyle to a new generation on and off the course.

Do better clothes make for better golf?

Definitely. If you feel good, your energy is better and you’re going to play better. There are some guys that isn’t true for, guys who don’t care about what they are wearing that much because it doesn’t influence them that much, but I think it does. When I see a pro golfer on the last day of the event wearing yellow and black, I just know that he doesn’t have a chance! That’s such a weird combo, and I’ve never seen anyone do well wearing it!

That’s just an example, but that’s one of the reasons that I got into this business in the first place. I played golf in college (at the University of Arizona in the late ’70s) and I couldn’t stand our uniforms. They were polyester, stuff I would never wear, but I had to wear it on the day of the tournament. And it was like, bad vibe central.

Do you think that performance and fashion are mixing well in golf apparel?

LS101_a2z-1

Coast Highway Classic Knit Shirt ($68). Linksoul’s signature short-sleeve polo has an “Innosoft” finish for carefree ease and a luxury feel. Tonal embroidered logo on front left chest pocket. 100% cotton jersey.

I have my own views, of course, about the clothes and the methods of the big, multi-billion-dollar, multi-national companies that really came from the worlds of other sports like soccer and basketball. They know polyester because they make it for those sports. They basically make the golf shirts in the same factories and from the same materials as they make basketball jerseys. They know that fabric and they pretty much created this whole “brainwashing” campaign on the concept of moisture-wicking material, but it’s really just bulletproof polyester that doesn’t absorb water so when you sweat it just sort of clings to your body. I’m more into natural fibers. I feel that golf is athletic, but it moves at a fairly slow pace. There’s a way to balance blends of fabrics that give you great performance but are comfortable and move well away from the golf course. I don’t believe in wearing a golf uniform. I think you can have nice-looking casual clothes that can kind of transition into golf very easily. When I go to the office and I know that maybe there’s a chance that I’ll play nine that day, I’m not thinking, “Oh my God, I gotta go change my clothes and go to the golf course.” I’m thinking, “OK, I know this works on the golf course and it works at my office so I’m set.”

You created the iconic brand Ashworth when you were still in your 20s. You left that company, came back and left again. Overall, do you see Ashworth as a blessing, a curse or something in between?

No question I have nothing but fond memories of Ashworth. I started the company when I was 26 out of the back of my car. I got my degree in Agronomy, you know, turf grass management. I didn’t know my a** from third base when it came to clothing. When I look back on it, it’s crazy that it became so successful. I just had my head down and was trying to figure things out. I moved to Los Angeles and just went through the school of hard knocks figuring out how it all works. And it was a great timing; the market was ready for something new, and I built the relationships with Fred Couples, Ernie Els, John Cook and all these great stars that were looking for something new as well. It was just a recipe that just kind of came together organically, the whole “serendipity” thing. It was a great run with Ashworth. I started in 1986 and I ended up leaving in 1997, but it was a really great time.

The guys you mentioned, Couples, Els, Cook; they sort of match you on the personality scale, don’t they? Kind of a chill vibe, right?

Yeah, thanks, I think so. And it’s been that way at Linksoul, too. We haven’t gone after any pro golfers, but interestingly enough the guys who have gravitated to the Linksoul brand are that same kind of super-chill guy. Like (2006 U.S. Open champion) Geoff Ogilvy; you couldn’t have a mellower, cool guy. Ryan Moore, same thing. (2009 U.S. Open champion) Lucas Glover… and few more who have contacted us, and it’s really cool to see that. Maybe that’s the way clothing is, you know, to create a certain style that people gravitate to. One of our mottoes here is that we don’t want 90 percent of the people to like what we do; we want 10 percent of the people to LOVE what we do.

Is it still exciting to see someone wearing your gear?

LS662_a1z

Linen Boardwalker Performance Pant ($106). Linksoul added cotton to their performance pant to make it more breathable and comfortable (67% polyester, 25% cotton, 8% spandex). Machine washable.

Yeah, I get excited about it, especially if they look good! I see guys still wearing shirts that I did at Ashworth in the early ’90s, literally 20-year-old shirts. And it’s cool when celebrities wear our stuff and we don’t event know how they got it. Justin Timberlake, Mark Wahlberg, people like that and it’s like, yeah, that’s kinda cool.

Who’s your favorite player on tour right now?

Hmmm… does it have to be a man (laughs)? I really like our guys and I root for them. Beyond our guys I like Justin Thomas; he’s a pretty cool kid. And I really enjoy watching Michelle Wie… and Lydia Ko, she just crushes it and at the same time she is so mellow!

If you are the Chief Justice of the Fashion Court, what do you outlaw?

White belts. I hate white belts, that’s No.  1 on my list. And I hate 100 percent polyester shirts, that shiny plastic look.

Who is the golfer in history that you would like to have dressed?

ls208_dagr_z

Linksoul Stretch Drytec Long Sleeve Sport Shirt ($96). A knit shirt with a button-down collar and cuffs. It’s made from a cotton-blend-performance, moisture-wicking fabric (50% cotton, 45% polyester, 5% spandex).

Well, I love Ben Hogan, so classic, simple, clean and stylish. At Linksoul, we try to be clean, classic and timeless. We have clean lines and our color palette is based on colors from nature. We don’t do neon colors; we try to stay away from colors that are a little too electric. But in general I love the period from the ’50s to the mid-’60s, that mid-century modern look. My theory is that when there was only black-and-white TV colors were typically more neutral and natural, but when Technicolor and polyester came in together all the rules went out the window. Baby blue pants and shirts, things that you wouldn’t be caught dead in anywhere but the golf course. In the ’90s when people were still wearing that terrible stuff from the ’70s and ’80s…that’s when I said, “Somebody’s gotta do something!” And it’s kinda déjà vu; golf companies are making those crazy color combinations again. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rickie Fowler, but bright orange pants with a bright orange shirt and a white belt? I don’t think so. There’s some crazy stuff out there and I’m not judging, but I just want to offer an alternative to that.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Tony Lynam

    Mar 30, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I get their catalogs, and have seen some of their shirts at Marshalls, Ross or TJ Maxx. Being a skin cancer survivor I tend to go with Under Armour “Cold Black” or some of their UV protective shirts. I do have some Nike, Oakley and adidas. Linksoul seems a bit expensive as all of the others. Very soft materials.

  2. Gorden

    Mar 28, 2017 at 12:03 am

    Loved Ashworth golf shirts when they were the real deal, the last few years they have more or less turned to junk, just using the name. The extra wide shoulders and longer shirt sleeve and tails were the best….now we have many with sleeves short tight with shoulders that were meant for girls not men. Some of the golf shirt companies sell shirts were is XL is smaller then the old ASHWORTH large.

  3. MRC

    Mar 26, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    I’m a big LS fan too. Good looking on and off the course. Nothing better than the Coast Highway shirt. It’s cotton and breathable. Board walker short is the most comfortable short in the market.
    Ps. A little love goes a long way S-Hitter. Is S short for shank? I thought so.

  4. golfraven

    Mar 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Just reading through the Spiel and have doubts if 10% of his potential market (people who love and purchase his stuff) will give him the revenue to survive. Unless you have a limitless cash flow it is a stupid statement to make!

  5. golfraven

    Mar 24, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I went to the site and there is nothing I would fancy. Hoodys for 120$ – heh? colors and cuts are outdated. May have worked in the 90s but in 2017 I am expecting athletic cuts and stylish colors – not talking of the high tech material. Maybe it is just me.

  6. Tony

    Mar 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Great shirts and clothing. I own many polos, shorts and pants. Very comfortable and great on or off the course.

  7. jonsnow

    Mar 24, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    If you catch their sale items pricing not too bad. I’m not a polyester fan & have a hard time finding cotton shirts, may try them out. I LOVED the earlier Ashworth shirts! Anybody know how the sizing runs in Linksoul?

  8. Brandon

    Mar 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    How are the Uniqlo polos? I’ve wanted to pull the trigger but have broad shoulders and that is always an issue for me. You can’t go wrong with Ralph Lauren/RLX, but need to search eBay or get lucky at Marshall’s to get it on the cheap.

  9. S Hitter

    Mar 24, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Their company logo is the worst. It’s stolen from the green-yellow “leaf design sticker” from the Japan where it’s stuck on the back of cars to indicate that the person driving the car is a beginner
    https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/???????

    • Matt

      Mar 24, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Ha, we get it S Hitter. You don’t like Linksoul.

  10. Mark

    Mar 24, 2017 at 3:29 am

    A shame this stuff isn’t available in the UK yet. Bored of Polyester shirts that scream Golf. Same with the trousers. No logos and garish colours are much classier.

  11. Todd

    Mar 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Got sent a Linksoul polo when I did a Hundres Hole Hike and I wore it most of the day. Great shirt and look.

  12. Acemandrake

    Mar 23, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Totally agree with this guy…My family owned a men’s clothing store from 1906-1995 and I learned what works (for me anyway…my father liked to remind me that not everyone likes the same things).

    Cotton/poly blend shirts in muted colors look and feel best.

  13. Sean

    Mar 23, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I do not like polyester and then found Linksoul. I now have a number of their polos and couldn’t be happier.

    • S Hitter

      Mar 24, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Why not just buy Uniqlo? Awesome polos. Cheap and just as good and not pretentious like these so-called designer labels who are just fake, stealing ideas from other companies that just do it right without the price tag.

  14. NoDoubt Stout

    Mar 23, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Linksoul makes without question the best looking and fitting Golf clothes on the market today

    • S Hitter

      Mar 24, 2017 at 9:12 am

      ….. if you like boring, flat, outdated, old-man, conservative colours and styles

      • Scott

        Mar 24, 2017 at 10:02 am

        +1 S Hitter.
        Some of their stuff is OK, but button down collars on a polo is ridiculous. And I never realized how many shades of muted gray you can create.

  15. Matt

    Mar 23, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I’m a huge Linksoul fan. The shirts fit me well, look great, and hold up over a season. The only other shirt that I like as much is The Masters brand tech shirt.

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Podcasts

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Task to target

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In this week’s episode: How having a target will improve your direction and contact you have with the ball.

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On Spec: Blades vs cavity backs | Classic gear vs. modern equipment

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In this episode, host Ryan talks about a recent experience of playing poor golf and what it took from an equipment perspective to get his game back on track.

The talk is wide-ranging and offers an inside look at what equipment tweaks or experiments might help you play better golf—or get you out of a rut.

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Opinion & Analysis

From the GolfWRX Vault: How far should you hit your golf clubs?

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Editor’s note: Jaacob Bowden‘s 2013 piece on how far a club “ought” to carry based on clubhead speed—i.e. how far you should hit your golf clubs–remains one of our most widely read pieces (thanks, Google search). And while seven years have passed since its publication, the data remains the same, and thus the piece remains just as relevant today. 

We’re happy to crack open the GolfWRX Vault for this excellent bit of writing. 


One of the nice things about having all this new fancy technological equipment like Trackman, Flightscope, ShotLink, etc., at various PGA Tour events is that distance data can be gathered for each of the players.

In case you haven’t come across it already, here are the approximate Trackman carry distance averages for men at the professional level.

Average PGA Tour Carry Distances (yards)

Club Carry
Driver (Total) 289
Driver (Carry) 269
3-Wood 243
5-Wood 230
Hybrid 225
3-Iron 212
4-Iron 203
5-Iron 194
6-Iron 183
7-Iron 172
8-Iron 160
9-Iron 148
PW 136

Pretty cool info. Perhaps they hit it farther than you might have thought…or maybe they hit less than you may have been lead to believe based on what you’ve seen on TV, read on the internet, etc.

Since I deal a lot with swing speed training and helping people in general hit the ball farther, a relatively common question I get is, “How far should I hit my clubs for my swing speed?”

Well, since we also know that the average driver swing speed on Tour typically runs around 112 to 113 mph, using a bit of algebra and the above distances we can approximate a guide for how far you could expect to hit the ball (assuming fairly consistent and solid contact) given your personal driver swing speed.

Here are those carry distances.

Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed (mph)

 Approximate Carry Distances by Driver Swing Speed (mph)

I took the ranges down to 60 and 70 mph because those are swing speeds I’ll encounter when working with some amateur women and seniors. I also went up to 140 mph because numerous long drivers I’ve trained can get their drivers up that high (RE/MAX World Long Drive champions like Joe Miller, Jamie Sadlowski and Ryan Winther can actually reach over 150 mph).

Aside from using the chart as a general reference point, here are a few other things that I think are worth pointing out:

First, these numbers are based off how the average Tour player strikes the ball. Although Tour players are overall good ball strikers with all their clubs, most of them are actually not as efficient (the Tour average is about 2.58 yards/mph of swing speed) as they can be when it comes to distance with their drivers because on average they hit drives that launch too low and with too much spin.

LGPA Tour players (2.65 yards/mph of swing speed) and Professional Long Drivers are actually more distance efficient with their drivers…but that’s a topic for another article. The good news for you is that greater carry and total-driving distances can be achieved at all the range of swing speeds shown above if you are a more efficient driver than the average male tour player at 2.58 yards/mph of swing speed.

With a 2-degree change in driver loft and some minor adjustments made to his swing path, angle of attack, etc, one of my amateur students went from being an already above-average efficient driver at 2.61 yards/mph to an extremely efficient one at 2.75 yards/mph. So with no change to his 102 mph swing speed, he increased his driving distance average from 266 to 280. Then after some swing speed training, he got up to 112 mph and can now hit drives around 307 yards with that same efficiency of 2.75 yards/mph. That’s 41 more yards!

Second, the club distances are based on the driver swing speeds that you would get from a system like FlightScope and Trackman. So if at all possible, get yourself checked on one of those. Otherwise, if you measure with something like a Speed Stik (which measure higher in my experience), you could get a false sense of how far you might expect to hit the ball.

As another example, Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radars (SSR) also read faster. It should be pointed out that SSRs are still a great personal training aid, and because of their accuracy and relative affordability and portability, they are actually the radar I recommend in my swing speed training programs.

However, the Doppler radar in an SSR measures the fastest moving part of the club head (typically the toe) versus a Trackman or FlightScope, which each have proprietary algorithms to calculate the speed at the center of the club face. For this reason, SSRs will read about 5 to 12 percent faster, depending on how you as an individual move the driver through impact. If you have an SSR, just hit 5 to 10 balls with it and a Trackman or FlightScope at the same time and you’ll find out your personal difference for sake of comparison.

Third, the above numbers can be useful for a good general reference, but like I mentioned in my article about understand distance variance, recognize that carry distances can vary a lot depending on conditions. Slopes, wind, temperature, altitude, etc., are all things that can affect how far the ball flies, so remember to factor that in.

Fourth, keep in mind potential loft differences between your clubs and the ones here. As a general rule of thumb, club manufacturers have made their club lofts (especially in the irons) continually stronger over the years as a way of marketing and selling consumers the new clubs.

Many top Tour players are being paid to play the latest clubs, which could mean they might also be playing irons with stronger lofts than the set you are playing. This isn’t always the case, however, but it’s another thing to be aware of.

Last, once you start approaching less than 80 mph with the driver, notice how the distances start bunching up between clubs.  At this point, you start getting to an area where you really don’t need a full set of 14 clubs. If this is you, perhaps you might also find that you hit a 3-wood or 5-wood further than a normal driver.

My wife is very strong and athletic, however, as a beginner who doesn’t play or practice very much, she hasn’t developed much swing speed. For that reason, we got her fitted for a 9-club set of Wishon 730CLs, a set that is designed specifically for men and women with less than 80 mph of club head speed.

The shafts are very light, the driver is 16 degrees and only 42 inches, the fairway woods are 20 and 26 degrees (versus the commonly used 15- and 19-degree fairway woods), and the remaining hybrids/irons are gapped out in 6-degree loft increments (compared to the normal 3- or 4-degree). Also, since many beginners, lesser skilled players and those with slower swing speeds can struggle with really high lofted wedges, the highest lofted wedge in the set is 54 degrees.

All of these things combine to provide a driver that can actually be hit in the air for distance, clubs that have substantial distance gapping, plus it’s just less clubs in general to lug around and choose from.

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