Whether you’re shopping for golf accessories, shoes, or apparel, it helps to know the materials from which your selections are made and how they were constructed. Some materials are naturally more suitable for different conditions while others use technological innovations to target specific problems. Here are some common materials and methods used to make golf apparel and equipment:
The name “ballistic nylon” comes from its original use in flak jackets during WWII. It proved to be ineffective against bullets and shrapnel, but it does make a durable material for luggage and other accessories. Ballistic nylon is woven from heavy-duty nylon with a denier of at least 840.
Cabretta is a type of leather that is made from the skin of sheep with coarse, hairy wool, but it feels as soft as kidskin. Because it’s from sheep with hardier wool, cabretta leather is more durable than other kinds of sheepskin. The Nike Dri-Fit Tour III Golf Glove uses its cabretta leather construction to help maintain your grip.
Denier refers to a fabric’s density and is defined by its mass in grams per 9,000 meters. The TaylorMade Performance Travel Cover is made from 1680 denier ripstop nylon for maximum durability.
EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. It’s a kind of synthetic rubber with excellent heat and weather resistant properties. EPDM is ideal for constructing grips because it’s soft yet it won’t slip from your hands.
EVA stands for Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, a polymer that is both shock absorbent and lightweight. EVA is also water-resistant. These qualities make it a popular material to use in footwear. The Oakley Blast Golf Shoes each have a compression molded EVA chassis for comfort and support.
French terry cloth is usually made from cotton and features tiny uncut loops. It’s different from regular terry cloth in that the loops are only on one side, so one side is smooth while the other is textured. French terry is also more lightweight than regular terry.
The name “ionomer” is used to describe many golf ball covers. Technically, “ionomer” can refer to a number of chemical compounds. An ionomer golf ball cover is one made from ionomer resin. Ionomer resin is created from polymerized ethylene and methacrylic acid that has been neutralized. DuPont first introduced a sodium-neutralized ionomer resin in 1964 under the name Surlyn. Other golf ball manufacturers use different neutralizing agents, but all are considered ionomer resins. Either way, ionomer resins are ideal for golf ball covers because they resist abrasion and have excellent durability. The Callaway Warbird 2.0 Golf Balls have ionomer covers.
Jacquard is a weaving method that weaves a pattern into the fabric. It makes a logo or a picture part of the fabric itself, rather than being embroidered or printed over it.
Mercerized cotton is cotton fabric that’s been treated with sodium hydroxide in order to make them more durable and to absorb dye more easily. Mercerized cotton is also smoother and slightly shiner than regular cotton.
Microfiber is a material, usually polyester or nylon, which is made up of fibers that are less than one denier in size. It’s often used in golf shoes and apparel because it can dry very quickly after absorbing perspiration or other moisture. Microfiber is also stain-resistant.
Many athletic apparel brands offer some kind of moisture wicking technology, including Nike Dri-Fit and adidas ClimaCool and Climalite. Although the exact formulation can different from brand to brand, they all generally use a breathable synthetic fabric with a layer of hydrophobic material at the top. Hydrophobic material sucks in moisture from the skin and draws it to the surface of the fabric so that it evaporates more quickly than the fabric would without it. For example, the adidas ClimaCool Sport Shoes use ClimaCool technology to keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout the round, while the Nike Dri-Fit TW Tour cap pairs it with mesh to create extra ventilation for your head.
Ottoman Knit is a textured knit fabric that features raised horizontal ribs. It can look like a very fine corduroy.
Pique is a weaving method that produces raised parallel cords that feel almost pebbly to the touch. It’s typically used to make polo shirts.
Surlyn is a material created by DuPont. It’s a modified thermoplastic that has been ionically strengthened to be extremely resilient and durable while still having a soft feel.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. It’s a number used to rate a fabric’s ability to block UVA and UVB rays. In comparison, SPF (Sun Protection Factor) only applies to UVA rays. Fabrics become sun-protective through weaving structure and denier or by being treated with UV blocking chemicals. The Callaway Chev Stripe Polo has a UPF of 15+.
It's good to know what's in your golf equipment, whether you're looking for specific technical qualities or are just wondering what typical terms mean. It lets you know exactly what you're paying for when you buy the latest golf products, which can even save you money in the long run.