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Opinion & Analysis

A Quick Nine with John Ashworth, Founder of Linksoul



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?


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?


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?


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.



  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

    • 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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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Do irons really need to go longer?



At Edison Golf, we put high emphasis on getting the right lofts in our customers bags to deliver precision distance gapping where distance control matters most – in prime scoring range. Our proprietary WedgeFit® Scoring Range Analysis helps us get there, and one of the key questions we ask is the loft of your current 9-iron and pitching wedge.

Please understand I have been collecting this type of data from wedge-fitting profiles for over 20 years, and now have seen over 60,000 of these. What’s interesting is to watch the evolution of the answers to those two questions. Twenty years ago, for example, the 9-iron and PW lofts would typically be around 42-43 degrees and 46-47 degrees, respectively. By 2010, those lofts had migrated downward to 40-41 degrees for the 9-iron and 44-45 for the “P-club”. (I began to call it that, because it’s just not a true “wedge” at that low of a loft.)

But how far are the irons makers going to take that lunacy? I see WedgeFit profiles now with “P-clubs” as low as 42-43 degrees and 9-irons five degrees less than that – 37-38 degrees. The big companies are getting there by incorporating mid-iron technologies – i.e. fast faces, multi-material, ultra-low CG, etc. – into the clubs where precision distance control is imperative.

Fans, you just cannot get precision distance control with those technologies.

But the real problem is that golfers aren’t being told this is what’s happening, so they are still wanting to buy “gap wedges” of 50-52 degrees, and that is leaving a huge distance gap in prime scoring range for most golfers.

So, to get to the title of this post, “Do Irons Really Need To Go Longer?” let’s explore the truth for most golfers.

Your new set of irons features these technologies and the jacked-up lofts that go with them, so now your “P-club” flies 125-130 instead of the 115-120 it used to go (or whatever your personal numbers are). But your 50- to 52-degree gap wedge still goes 95-100, so you just lost a club in prime scoring range. How is that going to help your scores?

Please understand I’m not trying to talk anyone out of a new set of irons, but I strongly urge you to understand the lofts and lengths of those new irons and make sure the fitter or store lets you hit the 9-iron and “P-club” on the launch monitor, as well as the 7-iron demo. That way you can see what impact those irons are going to have on your prime scoring range gapping.

But here’s something that also needs to get your close attention. In many of the new big-brand line-ups, the companies also offer their “tour” or “pro” model . . . and they are usually at least two degrees weaker and ¼ to 3/8 inch shorter than the “game improvement” models you are considering.

But really, how much sense does that make? The tour player, who’s bigger and stronger than you, plays irons that are shorter and easier to control than the model they are selling you. Hmm.

It’s kind of like drivers actually. On Iron Byron, the 46” driver goes further than the 45, so that’s what the stores are full of. But tour bags are full of drivers shorter than that 46-inch “standard”. So, if the tour player only hits 55-60% of his fairways with a 45” driver, how many are you going to hit with a 46?

I’m just sayin…

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Opinion & Analysis

GolfWRX Book Review: Phil by Alan Shipnuck



The most awaited golf book of 2022 is titled “Phil: the Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized) Biography of Golf’s most Colorful Superstar,” featuring a look at Phil Mickelson’s life and times. Alan Shipnuck, long a respected writer in the golf interweb, has produced another long-form contribution to the vast library of golf tomes. Early leaks did nothing but heighten the anticipation of the residents of golfdom for the book’s release. Shipnuck wrote for GOLF Magazine for years, before heading out with other proven and decorated scribes to form The Fire Pit Collective. His place at GM reveals how he was able to get close to Mickelson and his inner circle. Before we continue on with the book review, it’s important to determine how Shipnuck and I have a cosmic bond. It is summed up in two words.

Bob Heppel

Bob Heppel was the guy who stood me up in the fifth grade, swim locker room. I swung and bloodied his nose. I was more stunned than he was, but I retired as a fighter with a debatable record of 1-o. Alan Shipnuck tells a similar story in the introduction to his most recent literary effort. No kindred-spirits malarkey here; the type of coincidence that the cosmos allow on occasion.

How does the book read? Well, it has an element of stream of consciousness, combined with a heavy reliance on anecdotal sequencing. It is necessary to stack story after story, to connect the dots of a sometimes-indecipherable image. That’s Phil, to a T (or a P.)

Back to me for a moment. I received the digital copy of the volume about three weeks before the release date of the paper edition. On Friday the 13th, I finally opened the PDF. As I held the PgDn button on my laptop, stopping intermittently to catch up, a random turn of phrase caught my attention:

a man’s man with big calloused hands and the briny demeanor that came from having been at sea for weeks at a time. 

It takes a special awareness of how language intersects with life to string words like that together. Those words describe one of Phil Mickelson’s grandfathers. Shipnuck gives us so much information on Phil’s ancestor that we forget for a moment, that this is a book about Phil. This is a good thing, because we need to learn about the others that helped to forge the Phil Mickelson from whom we cannot avert our eyes.

The chapter in the book that will most ally you as a Mickelson sympathizer is, predictably, the one about Winged Foot and the 2006 USGA Open. The one that will most distance you from Lefty, is the one that begins around page 150, concerning his gambling habits. The section that will have you question golf administrators in general is the one about the 2014 Ryder Cup. In other words, there are a lot of chapters that expect the reader to suddenly jump up and scream at anyone who will listen, You won’t believe this, but …

At times throughout the reading of this book, you feel like a student in a statistics class. The author presents anecdotal evidence in tens and twenties, and you try to determine if Phil Mickelson is enviable or pitiable; sincere or counterfeit; ultimately, good or bad. And then, Shipnuck delivers a knockout punch in which he melds the detached storyline of wealthy professional golfers with the reality in which the rest of us live. Shipnuck resists the temptation to offer too many of these body blows; the book is, after all, about Phil Mickelson.

At about the midway point of the book, it is revealed that Mickelson might have something of a James Bond complex, a need to put himself at greater risk than before, to determine if he can handle the pressure. This notion explains a purported interest in gambling, or a suggested enthusiasm for abandoning the US PGA tour in favor of mideast money; the latter would be the straw that broke the back of Mickelson’s most loyal sponsors.

Without giving too much away, nor attempting to drive the reader toward any sort of conclusion (which would probably have been impossible, in hindsight) there are two, late-volume sequences that lead us toward an understanding of Phil Mickelson and of Alan Shipnuck’s intent:

even Mickelson’s failings feed his image as an uninhibited thrill-seeker

This is the image that he has cultivated over the course of a lifetime. It is the gift that his parents and his grandparents bequeathed to him.

In his public statement, Mickelson allowed that his comments were “reckless” but couldn’t resist making himself both the victim and the hero of his narrative …

This statement reveals the cleverness of Shipnuck’s efforts. He allows the readers to determine which one Mickelson is. My guess is that the readership will be split down the middle. As if I needed to tell you, go buy this book. You’ll enjoy revisiting the glory days of the southpaw, but be warned: you won’t feel the same about him when you turn the final page.

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Opinion & Analysis

Viktor Hovland can dominate if he addresses this key weakness…and it’s not his chipping



Ahead of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, the expectations for star Viktor Hovland are sky high. Hovland is a native of Oslo, Norway but played his college golf at Oklahoma State University before turning professional in 2019.

During Hovland’s time as an amateur, he won the 2018 U.S. Amateur and earned invitations to the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open the following year. He became the first player to win low amateur honors at both the Masters and U.S. Open in the same season since 1998.

As if expectations for the 24-year-old weren’t already lofty enough, he is now returning to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as one of the favorites in a major championship in the state that he played college golf.

There is an argument to be made that Viktor Hovland is the most talented golfer on the PGA Tour. Since he arrived on the scene in 2019, the young phenom has dazzled the golf world with his tee to green excellence. He’s also become a fan favorite due to his abundance of charisma and infectious smile.

Hovland’s career thus far cannot be categorized as a disappointment. He has three regular PGA Tour victories: one at an alternate field event in Puerto Rico, and two at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He also became the first Norwegian to win on the European Tour (Now DP World Tour) when he won the BMW International Open in June of 2021.

Despite the relative success, it would be hard to argue with the fact that something is missing.

In terms of skill set, one of the most accurate comparisons for Hovland is Rory McIlroy. By the age of 25, McIlroy had four major championships. It would be unfair to compare Hovland to McIlroy in terms of career trajectory, but I find it reasonable to expect more out of him.

Hovland will also draw many comparisons to Collin Morikawa. For better or worse, Viktor Hovland will always be mentioned in the same breath as Morikawa due to the fact that both golfers arrived on Tour at the same time, are within a year of each other in age and rank in the top five in the world.

For all of their similarities, Hovland and Morikawa are in many ways polar opposites. Hovland is a flashy, big hitting, birdie maker. Morikawa is steady, sharp, and has what I believe to be the highest golf IQ since Tiger Woods.

The Norwegian is every bit as talented as his friend and rival, but Morikawa has five PGA Tour victories, including two major championships and a World Golf Championship victory. Hovland is still searching for his first win in a marquee event.

Much has been made in recent months about Viktor Hovland’s troubles around the green. The 24-year-old has lost an average of 1.0 stroke to the field in his career in Strokes Gained: Around the Green. Hovland will be the first to tell you that he has a major weakness in his short game.

“I just suck at chipping,” The Norwegian said after his first career victory at the Puerto Rico Open in February of 2020.

While his chipping undoubtedly needs improvement, it is not his fatal flaw. Poor course management is.

Thus far, course management has been the most consequential detractor to Hovland’s career.

There have been numerous instances where Hovland has had a chance to win or at the very least contend at a tournament that would qualify as a “signature win” on Tour for Hovland. Yes, his short game has been a hindrance, but his poor course management has been a non-negotiable disqualifier.

There are countless examples of this, but in particular, three of them stuck out to me.

Back in February of 2021, Hovland was in the midst of a spectacular second round at the WGC-Concession in Bradenton, Florida. He had seven birdies and no bogeys and found himself two shots back of the lead with one hole to play.

Then disaster struck.

After driving it into the fairway bunker, Viktor put his second over the green and into the palmetto bushes. Instead of taking an unplayable and trying to get up and down for bogey from a decent lie, he decided to try and punch it out of the bush.

After his failed punch out left him in a terrible spot in the greenside bunker, he put his next shot right back into the palmetto bush where he started. He continued to mangle the 18th hole until he finally made his quadruple bogey-8. He went from two back of the lead and possibly in the final pairing to six back of the lead with a slim to none chance of contending.

There’s that infectious smile again.

Back in March, Hovland once again found himself in contention on Sunday with a chance to win the most meaningful victory of his career at The Arnold Palmer Invitational. As he approached the par-3 17th, he was tied for the lead with Scottie Scheffler at -5. The conditions in the final round were very challenging, and the obvious play was to the middle of the green to try and make par. Instead, Hovland went for the pin and came up short, leaving himself a short-sided bunker shot. He went on to make bogey. Scheffler played it to the middle of the green and two-putt for an easy par and went on to win the tournament by one stroke.

Hovland’s course management issues continued to plague him in the first round of The Masters Tournament. After ten holes, he was -1 for his round and three shots off of the lead as he headed to back nine with some birdie holes in front of him. That’s when the lack of proper course management hurt Viktor once again.

The 11th hole at Augusta National is notoriously difficult, and even more so this year as it was lengthened by fifteen yards. With very few exceptions, the entire field played the approach shot into 11 short, not daring to go over the penalty area left with such a long iron shot coming in. At the time, there was only one birdie on the hole all day.

After a beautiful tee shot, Hovland had 221 yards into the green. Inexplicably, he decided once again to attack a pin that he had no business trying to take on. In the late part of the afternoon, there had only been one birdie made there all day, and it was a 35 foot putt. Predictably, his approach shot was left of the target and splashed in the penalty area. After grinding out a very good front nine, he made a double bogey-6 on the hole. As has happened so many times in the past, his poor decision making cost him precious strokes in an event where he can’t afford to give them away.

Hovland has had a good start to his career, but with generational talent comes lofty expectations. He has plenty of time to redirect his career trajectory and accomplish all of the feats his talent should all him to, but first he must address his fatal flaw.

The PGA Championship at Southern Hills would be a good place to start.

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