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Hollas Golf apparel: the fringe benefits of a miracle fabric

I was wearing them for back-to-back birdies during a fun day last month at the new Otter Creek Golf Club outside Woodstock, Ont., and again for a recent return outing at Cardinals surprising Redcrest layout north of Toronto.

But it wasnt until dinner at a diner with my wife and kids, a full tumbler of ice water at my six-year-olds elbow, that I discovered an interesting fringe benefit of the Hollas golf slacks I won as a door prize some months back.

I was more than halfway through a banquet burger platter when young Lucas, bless his heart, dumped an entire tumbler of frosty-cold water into my lap.

I yelped with shock; my wife and daughter winced and Lucas looked at me with terror in his eyes, stricken, as they all waited for the inevitable blast of red-faced fatherly outrage.

It never came.

Miracle fabric: With Hollas, you almost _ almost _ don't need to pack rain gear.

Miracle fabric: With Hollas, you almost _ almost _ don't need to pack rain gear.

I was literally opening my mouth to unleash parental fury when my anger turned to bemusement; what was supposed to be sopping, blistering cold had faded to a modest chill, like an air conditioner pointed at my crotch.

I grabbed a handful of napkins and tried to blot up the moisture, but there was none _ it was bone dry. I might as well have been wearing rain pants.

A product of Toronto-based Second Skin Garment Co., the Hollas brand has been riding a tide of success in recent years, partly on the basis of its remarkable high-tech XFC (Extremely Functional Clothing) fabric.

XFC, for the uninitiated, is an ultra-lightweight, stretchy, highly flexible material that wicks moisture away from the skin with a waffle-like texture that keeps ones skin cool and dry, even in the hottest temperatures. Moisture is pulled through the fabric to the surface of the garment, where it rapidly evaporates.

Interestingly enough, the fabric seems to act on moisture like a one-way door: it lets it out like the dickens, but refuses to let it back in.

They werent designed to be water resistant, but the fabric is water resistant, said Don Nichols, Second Skins vice-president of sales and marketing.

Thats a byproduct of the fabric, but they also breathe very well. The bigger selling feature for us on those is the stretch and the comfort.

Hollas, introduced by Second Skin in 2002 and unveiled at the following years Canadian Open by staff player Jon Mills, is a brand thats also worn on the PGA Tour by Rory Sabbatini and Dean Wilson. In particular, its been Sabbatini, one of a handful of Tour players with a penchant for bright colours and bold fashion statements (not to mention calling attention to himself with his mouth), whose profile has helped to make Hollas a household name among discriminating performance players, particularly in Canada.

Performance has its advantages. Its genuinely hard to imagine a more comfortable pair of golf pants. Though theyre more fashionable and fit more snugly than a more billowy cotton-and-polyester alternative, the fabrics flexibility provides a lot of give, while the moisture-wicking characteristics help to ensure theyre never clingy or clammy.

Its almost like wearing yoga pants, except for the fact they wont get you kicked out of the country club or mocked mercilessly by your buddies.

The waistband has an inner rubber strip designed to keep ones shirt from coming untucked, a standard feature of modern golf garb, while the back pockets are extremely deep _ they extend all the way down past the top of the leg _ presumably to accommodate a full-size notebook-style yardage book, a la PGA Tour style.

Yardage book, glove, whatever, said Nichol. The latest version of the pants are more Tour-friendly than earlier iterations, he added.

They used to be a little bit different; they used to have a smaller back pocket and they were more of a fashion pant. Now theyre more of a full-on golf pant for the Tour guys.

Unless youre a frequent visitor to high-end green-grass pro shops, theyre not always that easy to find. Golf Town carries a good selection of Hollas shorts, which feature all the same XFC virtues as the long pants. Clublink facilities and the pro shop at Copper Creek Golf Club _ a celebrated Doug Carrick design in Kleinburg, Ont.,  northwest of Toronto _ would be among the best places to start shopping, Nichol suggested.

Will Hollas products ever be available for sale through the website? Dont hold your breath.

I wouldnt say we would never do it, said Nichol, but for right now were sticking with our partners.

Speaking of partners, Im reminded of another tremendous virtue of my Hollas pants: my wife tells me theyre quite slimming.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

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