Let It Rain

Why I wear gloves when it’s wet, and why they work

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life - By david owen

few years ago, rain fell steadily dur­ing the first round of a lo­cal tour­na­ment. One of the guys in my three­ball hung a towel and sev­eral gloves from the stretch­ers of his um­brella, and be­fore each shot he would wipe the grip of his club while squeez­ing the um­brella’s han­dle be­tween his up­per arm and his chest.Then he would dry both hands and put on one of the gloves, and if any­thing got wet dur­ing any of that he would do it all again.

On the 12th hole, a gust lifted the um­brella off the top of his bag, where he had propped it to keep his clubs dry while he putted, and blew it into a lake.Two holes later, he with­drew.

The rain that day was fall­ing on me, too, but I didn’t care be­cause I was wear­ing the most use­ful ac­ces­sory in all of golf: a pair of rain gloves.When you wear rain gloves, your hands do not slip, no mat­ter how wet your grips be­come.They work so well that you can leave your um­brella in your car. Heck, you can leave your towel there, too.

Yet hardly any tour pros wear them in com­pe­ti­tion.Among the few who have are Zach John­son, J B Holmes and, most no­tably, Phil Mick­el­son. He be­came a true be­liever at the 2011 Open Cham­pi­onship, af­ter shoot­ing 30 on the first nine of the fi­nal round and fin­ish­ing in a tie for sec­ond. At a press con­fer­ence in 2012, he said that rain gloves had been “a mon­u­men­tal thing” for him, and that in wet weather they helped him “ex­po­nen­tially.” He even leaves them on while putting. His cad­die, Jim (Bones) Mackay, told me,“We al­ways have a pair in the bag.”

I’ve hap­pily used rain gloves for many years with­out un­der­stand­ing how they work, so I asked an ex­pert at FootJoy. She told me that the con­tact sur­faces of her com­pany’s RainGrip gloves – the kind I’ve used most of­ten

A– are made from an ab­sorbent non-woven syn­thetic fab­ric.“Wa­ter goes into the ma­te­rial,” she said,“and then the ma­te­rial con­forms both to your hand and to the club, cre­at­ing a sin­gle unit.”

The ma­te­rial looks and feels a lit­tle like suede. Its pur­pose is not to keep your hands dry – and it doesn’t. Its pur­pose is to se­curely join your hands to your wet grips, elim­i­nat­ing any temp­ta­tion you might feel to ruin your swing by squeez­ing.

Mick­el­son wears Call­away’s ver­sion, called Op­tiGrip.They look more like reg­u­lar golf gloves than RainGrip gloves do, be­cause they’re made from stretchy stuff that re­sem­bles leather, with suede-like patches on just the thumb and part of the palm. But they func­tion the same way.“They ac­tu­ally per­form bet­ter as they get wet,” a Call­away rep­re­sen­ta­tive told me,“and the ma­te­rial be­tween the fin­gers and on the back of the hand helps chan­nel ex­cess wa­ter away.”And if your glasses get wet you can use one of the thumb patches like a chamois, to wipe your lenses.

A lit­tle rain fell dur­ing my club’s mem- ber-guest this year, and I im­me­di­ately put on a pair of Nike All Weather III gloves – which I hope Nike will con­tinue to sell, be­cause I like them, too.The rain didn’t last long, but I never took them off: the day was hot and hu­mid, and rain gloves neu­tralise per­spi­ra­tion the same way they neu­tralise rain.They’re also great for cold days, be­cause they keep chilly winds from numb­ing your fin­gers. (In re­ally cold weather, I wear winter golf gloves, which are made from sim­i­lar stuff but have longer cuffs and more in­su­la­tion on the backs of the hands.) And when rain gloves get gross you can throw them into the washer and dryer – some­thing you can’t do with leather.

The first bat­ting gloves in base­ball in­cluded golf gloves worn by base­ball play­ers who also played golf.That was more than 60 years ago, and to­day most bat­ters wear gloves on both hands. Should golfers do the same? I’ve got so used to wear­ing two gloves in wet, hot, cool and cold weather that I’m tempted to wear rain gloves all the time.Why not?

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