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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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Club Junkie

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Review of the new Callaway Jaws Raw wedge and the new Z Grind sole on the lob wedge. Great spin and improved shape make it my choice over the Jaws MD5. Strackaline’s yardage and green reading books are highly detailed and catch all the slopes on the green.

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Shawn and Munashe tag team their efforts with Roberto. Whom we have had the pleasure to host in the last Month.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 John Deere Classic: Outright Betting Picks

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After an incredible week of golf at the Travelers Championship, the PGA Tour makes one final stop at TPC Deere Run to play the John Deere Classic. Last year, we saw Lucas Glover capture his first win in more than a decade by firing a final round 64 to claim victory.

TPC Deere Run is a 7,268-yard par 71 located in Silvis, Illinois. The course historically fails to present a major challenge to golfers with easy-to-hit fairways and bentgrass greens. Most players will have short approach shots into the greens, and the event often turns into a bit of a putting contest.

The John Deere Classic will play host to 156 golfers, and as expected, the field is considerably weaker than we have gotten used to this season.

After a long run of top tier events, many of the world’s top players are taking the week off.

A few of the notable golfers who will make the trip to the Midwest include Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Adam Hadwin, Denny McCarthy and Sahith Theegala.

2022 John Deere Classic Best Bets

Cameron Davis (+4000)

Cam Davis is a player who has the skill set I am targeting at TPC Deere Run this week. In the field, he ranks 17tin Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass and 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach.

The Australian had some stretches last week at the Travelers where it looked like he was going to contend deep into the weekend and some other stretches where he struggled mightily. While the poor play at times was a bit of a concern, it wasn’t as important as what he showed when he was playing well.  In a weak field, we are betting on the ceiling of Cameron Davis.

The 27-year-old has already proven he can win on Tour and won at this time last year. It may not seem like it at first glance, but Davis offers us relative value in this field.

Cameron Champ (+5000)

It’s more likely than not that Cameron Champ plays horribly this week. He’s missed four consecutive cuts and has had a pretty disappointing year overall. However, if you play this event 50 times, I feel very confident in saying that Champ wins at least once. Therefore, there is relative value in betting the 27-year-old this week.

Since Champ has arrived on the scene in 2018, he’s already accumulated three PGA Tour victories. “Win equity” is a term I often use in these articles, and Champ is a great example of a golfer who finds a way to win more often than his odds tend to indicate.

Yes, there’s a good chance he struggles this week. But there’s also a chance he gains eight strokes putting and wins the tournament.

Chez Reavie (+5000)

Reavie comes to the John Deere Classic quietly playing some very good golf. He has four top 27 finishes in his past five starts, including an 8th place finish at last week’s Travelers Championship.

The 40-year-old is gaining an average of 3.7 strokes from tee to green in his past five events. In many ways, Reavie is a similar to player to Lucas Glover (who won this event last year). He is a strong iron player who is good with a wedge. If he can gain a few strokes putting instead of losing strokes to field as he typically does, he is super live to win at TPC Deere Run.

Chesson Hadley (+15000)

Chesson Hadley used an excellent Sunday to catapult him to a top-5 finish at the Travelers Championship. His excellent round of 64 was one shot shy of the low round of the day, and it’s within the realm of possibility that he can use the momentum to propel him into contention at the John Deere Classic.

In the past we’ve seen hot putters propel golfers to victory at TPC Deere Run. Hadley is a player who is capable of gaining an absurd number of strokes with the putter when he has it going.

The John Deere Classic is one of the few spots on the schedule where journeymen have been able to get it done and is as good of a spot as ever to end Hadley’s nine-year winless streak on Tour.

Brandon Wu (+15000)

Brandon Wu is a golfer who’s ceiling I believe in long-term. Since his second-place finish at the Mexico Open, he’s been quite disappointing, but this is a tournament where I believe in taking chances of golfers with a high upside.

The Stanford product has loads of talent. He won the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour Championship and beat out many players in this field in doing so.

This is a low risk, high reward bet on a golfer who is still developing on the PGA Tour.

Hayden Buckley (+15000)

Hayden Buckley is another golfer who is on the rise. He finished 14th in the U.S. Open, proving he has what it takes to compete on the PGA Tour.

In an event where I feel as though most any player in the field is live to win, it’s a good opportunity to bet a young up-and-comer in hopes that his ceiling comes to fruition against a weak field.

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