As Bob posted Nike’s press release about the 2013 Tiger Woods collection today, I thought it would be fitting to provide a review of one of the garments from the new line – specifically, the Chest Stripe polo in fiberglass, which happens to be the exact polo that Tiger wore in the “No Cup is Safe” ad. I bought this shirt from Golf Coast Pickers, an online retailer that specializes in Nike Golf apparel, and it arrived last week. I’ve been dying for the snow to melt to actually wear this on a golf course, but in the meantime, I’m wearing it off the course and here are my thoughts:
The biggest change we’ve seen in the Tiger Woods collection was last year, when they moved from a cotton/poly blend, to a poly/spandex blend. The move was done to drastically reduce weight and deliver a total performance shirt. A review of one of the 2012 polos is posted here. In terms of weight, I would say that 2012 completely delivered, but I did find some room for improvement. The two biggest things that I thought could be improved were ventilation, particularly in sweat spots like in the armpit region, and the collar, which while essentially weightless, seemed like it was made out of thick paper. So you’ve really got to hand it to Kim Kenney, and the rest of the design team for Nike Golf, for being able to implement the right improvements in the 2013 TW line.
The changes not only improved the two aforementioned areas, but are somehow cut perfectly for my body, which I feel is pretty universal to golfers. The sleeves are the right length, it’s not too boxy or too tight, and it has the right amount of weight to feel like you’re actually wearing a shirt. Meanwhile, the new poly/spandex blend still provides the stretch needed for golf movements.
Other improvements, that I did not really know about until I read the press release include a “posture informing chassis designed to maximize range of motion.” In addition, the sleeves are connected to the back body of the shirt instead of being sewn on. According to Nike, this “design reduces limitations in the area that endures the most tension in a swing – across the back.”
In summary, while I thought the 2012 rebirth of the TW line was exciting, I can see that in completely redoing the line, there was bound to be some improvement areas. What I find most surprising, although I suppose I shouldn’t be, is that Nike not only identified these improvement areas, but it addressed them in ways that exceeded my expectations. What you’ll find in the 2013 TW collection is a remarkable step up from the previous year.
Why start with weight? Well, the majority of last year’s polos were so light that it almost felt like you weren’t wearing a shirt. While I think this comes in handy, especially in very hot conditions, it was a big change from the 2011 line that had the weight of a typical polo. The 2013 Chest Stripe polo reverts back to a heavier polo, that drapes on your body the way a shirt should. The paper thin collar has been replaced by a ventilated collar with more structure that wears better, but still provides heat relief. The covered button placket also has an extra layer of fabric from last year, which sits better on your chest. And the body uses a pique-like material, that is matched with perforated side panels (more on that in a bit). The real difference the weight makes is that I just feel more comfortable wearing this shirt of the course. It’s just adds a little bit more versatility.
In this photo, you can see Nike kept the ventilation in the neck area, but the fold over collar allows the polo to sit right.
In my assessment of the 2012 Ultra Stripe, I had originally thought that ventilated armpit holes would help keeping you cool. This was my one major gripe with the 2012 line. Despite being made out of Dri-FIT material, I felt sweaty on really hot days – one particular memorable hot day was when I was out in the safari in South Africa on my honeymoon. It was so hot and while I felt like I wasn’t wearing much, I think the heat just got trapped inside the shirt. What I did not expect in the 2013 line was a full length side vent running from the arm pit to the bottom of the shirt. This has helped breathability by leaps and bounds, and I guarantee that users of this shirt will find this new feature extremely valuable.
Officially speaking, the TW Chest Stripe Polo is a “Standard Fit”, meaning it is designed for a relaxed fit. In actuality, it will depend on your body type and build. I’ve always maintained that people on the more slender side will find TW polos on the bigger side and are more suited for the Tour Premium line, but I think the masses will find this shirt just right. It’s not boxy which causes excess fabric to flow on the sides, and the sleeves are cut just right – about 1-3″ above the elbow. Again, the cut will depend on your body type, but Nike seems to have found the right balance to suit most people. Check out where the sleeves fall below:
Officially, my Chest Stripe polo is listed as “Fiberglass”. I had originally thought it was closer to white, but when I received it, I discovered that “Fiberglass” is actually a light hue of mint. Sort of like a very light green. The orange chest stripes are screen printed on, and really look like two dashes in the chest area. The back posture stripe is also orange and screen printed on, and I never felt it on my back, so no need to be concerned about that. I think the shirt looks best with gray bottoms (as TW wore in the commercial), but I could see it with tan pants or black pants. Here’s a comparison of the color of “Fiberglass” to my white ultra light stripe polo from last year:
Here’s me pairing it with my gray TW 2012 Pants:
I don’t normally write about service in an apparel review, but the level of serviced I received from Matt at GC Pickers was really unrivaled. Not only did he answer my questions (and I had a lot) about the different 2013 shirts, he provided me with real-time service with his cell phone number. He even texted me pics of the different shirts that I had questions about and sent me a pic text of the shirt once it was ready to go out. It’s little things like that that make me feel like I am getting a good customer service experience. While the Chest Stripe polo is the one that I eventually settled on, I plan to buy more from them based on service alone.
At the ~$90 price point, I expect to receive a golf shirt that exceeds all others. And I truly do think that with the improvements in the 2013 line, the value is more than delivered with the Chest Stripe polo. The weight issues are fixed, the ventilation issues are improved, and the shirt simply feels good on. On a final note, it does feel cool to wear the exact same shirt that TW wears on Tour and on TV.
Editor’s note: The reviewer/author was not paid or compensated for this review, and the opinions expressed in the review are strictly those of the reviewer/author.