Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 2011 Canadian Golf Season.
OK, so that may be a bit premature in many parts of Canada — certainly here in the seat of government power in Ottawa, they’re at least another two weeks away from opening the courses, which is sure to bring hordes of formerly snowbound golfers out of hibernation for the opening swings of spring.
But that’s not to say you shouldn’t be ready.
The spring golf season in Canada is a lot like spring skiing: the conditions usually leave a little something to be desired, and the weather is highly unpredictable — unseasonably warm one minute, biting cold the next. Add to that the fact that courses might not be ready to have carts on the fairways, and you have a pressing need for gear that offers light weight, flexibility, freedom of movement and warmth when you need it.
If you saw newly conscripted Sunice ambassador J.B. Holmes during the recent Accenture Match Play Championships — beset by bitter cold and frost delays in the normally balmy desert climes of Arizona — you would have seen him wearing his sponsor’s new Olie Superlite pullover, a stretchy blend of high-tech fabric that’s perfect for Canadian golf in April.
Indeed, as a company that was born in Alberta in the 1970s making top-shelf ski wear, Sunice knows a thing or two about the Canadian climate. Conceived and designed in Canada, the quarter-zip Olie (don’t ask me, I don’t know what they were thinking when they came up with that name either) functions well as both a standalone garment or as an inner layer when it gets really nasty.
To keep it from bunching and getting all bulky, the Olie uses a minimum of fabric – even the XL offers a fairly fitted cut, a stark contrast from all the billowing rolls and layers that often accompany such pieces. As such, it’s ideally suited to wear underneath a waterproof shell or a rain jacket on those days when the elements are more challenging than the game. The fact it’s just a quarter-zip also means there’s plenty of room for all the hardware that comes with a full-on rain jacket.
All that can be a bit to get used to if you’re the sort who likes loose-fitting clothes, however, so the main thing would be to try one of these on before buying if a snug fit its liable to bug you during your round. Being one who prefers comfort over fit, I was skeptical of the Olie at first. But I soon got over any apprehension and made the pullover one of my go-to pieces for long sessions on the range. It’s perfect for the indoor range or the heated outdoor range, both of which can get pretty frosty.
Made from a blend of polyester and Spandex, the Olie provides just enough stretch that it won’t feel tight across the chest or the shoulders during the backswing; if anything, it feels like a thin sweater you’ve been wearing for 10 years. Zip up the collar to keep out the cold.
When the sun comes out, it won’t be all that high in the sky yet, so keep the Olie on for an added layer of warmth. Sized properly, it doesn’t bind or restrict the backswing, but does provide just enough room to not feel overly tight and restrictive. The high-tech fabric makes for a sharp look, as does the flat stitching and reflective accents on the collar. The Olie is even a little slimming for those of who who, like me, are a bit misshapen.
There’s a little zip-up breast pocket for your scorecard or BlackBerry — handy as all get-out if you use your smartphone for yardages or tracking stats on the course.
The Olie, which retails for $100 US MSRP, comes in four colour combinations: black/shadow, white/royal, midnight/shadow and charcoal/lime. There’s a version for women as well — it has a much better name, the Jada — and both work just as well for a quick stroll to the corner store or your morning workout as they do on the golf course. The women’s version, which is cut more to suit the female form, comes in three colour combinations: black/white, white/dove and charcoal/berry. The Jada sells for a suggested retail price of $90 US.
If you’ve been playing the game in Canada for a while, you’ll know that early in the season, the weather can change on a dime — especially over the course of a four-hour round. There’s nothing worse than being dressed for a blizzard, only to have the sun come out on the second hole and make you realize you’re not equipped for that “in-between” weather.
If something like the Olie is one of your layers, however, you will be.