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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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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How To Overcome The Mid-Season Golf Blues

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Every Year around this time, golfers start getting tentative because they have missed a few too many golf shots and they immediately start to blame the faulty wires on the Pinocchio.

Of course, we are here to tell you that is not the case.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship: Outright Betting Picks

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With the PGA TOUR regular season in the books, it’s time to begin the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs.

Previously known as the St. Jude Classic and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the event will now serve as the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and is named the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

While the name of the event and the spot on the PGA TOUR schedule has changed, the course remains the same. TPC Southwind is located in Memphis, Tennessee and has been a regular TOUR stop since 1989.

TPC Southwind is a Par 70 measuring 7,244 yards. The course features Bermudagrass greens and rough. With 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards, there is potential trouble on almost every hole.

The FedEx St. Jude Championship will play host to the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings with the top 65 and ties making it through to the weekend.

FedEx St. Jude Championship Outright Bets

Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200)

Typically, the FedEx Cup playoff events are won by players who have been among the best overall players for that season. Matt Fitzpatrick is having the best season of his career and is undoubtedly one of the most impressive golfers of the year. For the 2022 season, the Englishman ranks third in Strokes Gained: Total, which trails only Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler.

Had it not been for Fitzpatrick’s incredible U.S. Open victory, TPC Southwind would have been a spot that I’ve always thought could be the perfect break through spot for the 27-year-old. Now that he’s won and gotten his first victory in the United States out of the way, it only increases his chances of being able to win a FedEx Cup Playoff event.

Talent was never the concern for Fitzpatrick. The former top ranked amateur in the world exploded onto the professional golf scene at nineteen years old and never looked back. Despite having eight European Tour victories by the time he’d hit his mid-twenties, many people questioned why he couldn’t win on American soil. Now that he’s a U.S. Open champion, there’s reason to believe the floodgates will open.

Fitzpatrick has had plenty of success at TPC Southwind in the past. In three starts at the course, “Fitz” has two top-six finishes including a fourth-place finish in 2019.

His success at the track isn’t all that surprising considering how well his skill set aligns with what’s required to compete at the course. It’s important to hit fairways, which is something he does at a high clip. He also is one of the best in the sport at limiting mistakes and ranks third in the field in Bogey Avoidance.

A FedEx Cup Playoff victory would add to what is already the best season of Fitzpatrick’s career and give him a chance to make a run at a being the FedEx Cup champion.

Will Zalatoris (+2500)

For the past few weeks, we’ve seen Will Zalatoris near the top of the odds board. Despite being one of the most talented players in the field, there was nothing about Detroit Golf Club or Sedgefield Country Club that made me interested in betting him at those spots. The opposite is true about TPC Southwind.

When targeting Will Zalatoris for an outright bet, it’s most prudent to look for spots on the schedule where his immaculate ball striking can set him apart from the rest of them field.  The Rocket Mortgage Classic rewarded driving distance and wedge play. The Wyndham Championship rewarded the best putters and most accurate drivers.

This week, the FedEx St. Jude Championship will favor the best iron players who can ball strike their way to the top of the leaderboard. In the past, Strokes Gained: Putting hasn’t been a strong indicator of who will play well at TPC Southwind; which is great news for Zalatoris, who often struggles with the putter.

As evidenced by his three top-six finishes including two runners-up at major championships in 2022, Zalatoris can absolutely compete in the strongest of fields. In fact, I believe his chances to win in a star-studded event are higher than they are to win a lesser event on TOUR. The 25-year-old is a big game hunter who does his best work when the stakes are high.

The first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs is an excellent time for “Willy Z” to finally break through for his inevitable maiden PGA TOUR victory.

Sungjae Im (+3500)

As frustrating as it was being a Sungjae Im backer on Sunday at the Wyndham Championship, his overall performance and current hot streak can’t be overlooked.

The South Korean has now finished in a share for second place in back-to-back starts. In those two events, Im has gained an average of 8.5 strokes Ball Striking on the field, which includes both Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach. At a course where ball striking is the most important factor, he should be in store for another strong showing.

Im had his best Strokes Gained: Approach day on Sunday at the Wyndham, gaining 2.0 strokes on the field in the fourth round alone. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the putter going and lost 2.2 strokes putting while Tom Kim gained 4.5 on the day. If it weren’t for Kim’s unconscious effort with the putter, there’s a good chance that Sungjae would have notched another PGA TOUR victory.

If the 24-year-old can get the flat stick going this week, we may have back-to-back South Korean winners on the PGA TOUR.

Tyrrell Hatton (+6000)

It appears as if Tyrrell Hatton is trending toward a victory, as he’s playing arguably the best golf of his 2022 season. He finished 11th at the Open Championship and followed it up with an impressive performance at Wyndham, finishing eighth. In addition to his top-10 finish, the Englishman was impressive with his approach playing and gained 5.3 strokes on approach, which was good for sixth in the field.

Hatton got hot in his final round last week, shooting a 64. Oftentimes we see golfers who go low on the previous Sunday carry the momentum into the following tournament. Hatton is a much better player than he’s shown thus far in 2022, and it seems as if he’s found something ahead of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

If he has, TPC Southwind should be a good course for him as he finished in 17th last year and was in contention prior to a fourth round 72 that took him out of the running.

Russell Henley (+6000)

It’s fair to wonder whether Russell Henley can close out a victory on the PGA TOUR after witnessing him blow leads at last season’s Wyndham Championship and this season’s Sony Open. Considering that the FedEx Cup St. Jude Championship will be comprised of a much stronger field than either of those events makes it perfectly reasonable to question it even further. However, at his number, I’m willing to give it one more shot.

Henley is in the best form we’ve seen him in this season. In his past two starts, the 33-year-old has finishes of 10th and fifth and has gained 11 and 9.7 strokes from tee to green in those events. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Henley ranked seventh in the field in approach, and at the Wydham Championship, he ranked first.

TPC Southwind is a course that should fit Henley’s game to a tee. With a premium on iron play and hitting greens in regulation, the former Georgia Bulldog is a perfect fit. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a course where he doesn’t have to gain a bunch of strokes with the putter to win.

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Equipment

Davis Love III was still using a persimmon driver in 1997?!

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The revolution of metal drivers was happening quickly in the early-to-mid 1990’s, but Davis Love III was set on sticking with his Cleveland Classic Oil Hardened RC85 persimmon driver. He wasn’t oblivious to the emerging technology, though. He knew exactly what he was doing, and why.

“The Cleveland has been in my bag since 1985,” Love III wrote in his 1997 book, “Every Shot I Take.” “It was given to me by a good friend, Bob Spence. I experiment with metal drivers often; I find – for me, and not necessarily for you – they go marginally longer than my wooden driver, but they don’t give me any shape. I find it more difficult to create shape to my drives off the metal face, which is important to me. …I also love the sound my ball makes as it comes off the persimmon insert of my driver.

“I’m no technophobe,” he added. “My fairway ‘woods’ have metal heads … but when it comes to my old wooden driver, I guess the only thing I can really say is that I enjoy golf more with it, and I think I play better with it…golf is somehow more pleasing to me when played with a driver made of wood.”

Although his book came out in 1997, Love III switched out his persimmon driver for a Titleist 975D titanium driver in the same year.

It was the end of an era.

During Love III’s 12-year-run with the persimmon driver, though, he piled on four wins in the year of 1992, including the Kmart Greater Greensboro Open — now known as the Wyndham Championship.

Love III, who’s captaining the 2022 Presidents Cup United States team next month at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., is playing in the 2022 Wyndham Championship in nearby Greensboro. In celebration, we took a look back in the archives to see what clubs Love III used for his win in 1992 for an article on PGATOUR.com. We discovered he was using a Cleveland Classic persimmon driver, in addition to a nostalgic equipment setup.

In our latest Two Guys Talking Golf podcast episode, equipment aficionado and co-host Brian Knudson, and myself (GolfWRX tour reporter Andrew Tursky), discuss Love III’s late switch to a metal-made driver, and why he may have stuck with a wooden persimmon driver for so long.

Check out the full podcast below in the SoundCloud embed, or listen on Apple Music here. For more information on Love III’s 1992 setup versus his 2022 WITB, click here.

 

 

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