For the Ladies

Get the latest apparel and equipment for your favorite golfer

Greg Nichols, PGA General Manager And Director Of Golf At Ko Olina Golf Club

The quintessential new year’s saying heralds, “Out with the old and in with the new.” And that saying certainly applies to the 2009 LPGA golf season, which starts in Hawaii at the SBS Open, held at the Turtle Bay Resort Feb. 9-14.

The LPGA had to say a tearful goodbye at the end of last season to the finest female golfer in history, Annika Sorenstam, who garnered 72 LPGA victories in her 15 years on tour. However, the folks at the LPGA are now crying tears of joy as they welcome one of the strongest crops of young ladies coming out of qualifying school ever, led by Hawaii’s own Michelle Wie, who is finally an official member of the LPGA and able to tee it up for her first full season on tour.

Wie, now a mature 19, has been tagged since 2003 as being the next great star to replace Sorenstam. She first burst into the national spotlight at age 12, playing in the final group in the Nabisco Championship (her first LPGA major) and later became the youngest winner ever of a USGA championship when she won the Public Links. At Q-school, Wie showed she fully recovered from a nagging wrist injury and an even more troubling errant driver as she easily qualified for one of only 20 spots available.

Stacy Lewis, a fiery, 23-year-old player who almost won last year’s Women’s Open in her professional debut, did win the Q-school event at an eye-grabbing 18-under par. Fast on her heels was another 19-year-old, Amy Yang, a great, young Korean player who already has won three times on the Ladies European Tour.

The women’s game has changed dramatically since Sorenstam was a tour rookie 15 years ago. There have been great advances in equipment technology, allowing women golfers to hit the ball farther than ever, but the real change has come from the women themselves, with an ever-increasing focus on strength and fitness. The women playing the tour today pride themselves on their athleticism and ability to play more of a power game. Sorenstam helped lead the way when she went from averaging only 246 yards with her driver in 1994 to averaging over 270 yards at the height of her success in 2005 after finishing a rigorous conditioning program.

If you’re looking to improve your game in 2009, it’s a great idea to start hitting the gym. But the good news is that whatever your personal level of fitness, you can still play better by swinging the same clubs that the top players in the game use. Lorena Ochoa, the LPGA’s leading money winner last year, is excited to have Ping’s new Rapture V2 driver in her bag for 2009. The 460 cc head is manufactured out of titanium and tungsten, while external tungsten weight pads help make it more forgiving and lower its spin rate, which helps players gain needed roll and distance.

TaylorMade, the No. 1 driver in golf, is offering its top two players, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis, its new Tour Burner Driver with Next Generation Dual Crown technology that lowers the center of gravity in the club head to promote high launch and low spin for more distance. Plus, it looks pretty, especially in the hands of these two blond bombers!

Callaway is hoping that one of its other staff players can step into Sorenstam’s shoes and find success with its new FT-iQ driver featuring “Smart” Moment of Inertia, which utilizes the same cool technology that is found in stealth bombers and Formula 1 race cars. These drivers deliver consistently long drives down the middle of the fairway, which translates to lots of wins.

Wie, like her counterpart on the PGA Tour Tiger Woods, plays with Nike equipment. Like Woods, Wie also has always been known as a long hitter, but she feels the technology behind Nike’s new SQ Sumo S2 5900 driver will now allow her to hit more fairways as well.

The other dramatic change in women’s golf over the past 15 years has come in the world of clothing. Fashion still rules the day in driving design for women golfers, but thanks to the new paradigm of the woman athlete, performance is also a major consideration. Companies are deeply invested in performance fabrics that are lighter, longer-lasting, have improved moisture wicking and anti-bacterial elements.

Adidas ClimaCool is a great example of highly breathable fabric with a mesh ventilation system. Their ClimaCool solid mesh polo offers a leaner, more athletic fit as well as pronounced mesh panels for additional ventilation, and is available in a wide selection of fashionable colors.

Cutter & Buck offers its Annika Collection – named after guess who? – that employs several unique fabrics in their designs such as Dry Tec, Pro Tec, Weather Tec, Sun Tec and Wind Tec for every type of climate condition. All of the brand’s designs combine performance and innovation with style and femininity.

A smaller company making a big impact on women’s golf fashion is Lija, a Vancouver-based company founded by designer Linda Hipp, who recently was voted one of the best new designers in the golf industry. Lija is a lifestyle brand that is designed for both on- and off-course wear and appeals to a wide range of tastes, whether preppy, fashion-savvy, sporty, urban or classic.

At the high end of the spectrum is the hip, always cutting-edge Jamie Sa-dock line. Her company motto, “Corrosion to Conformity,” says it all for this designer who was determined to create her own unique niche in the mostly conservative, tradition-minded golf industry. Designed for the woman who wants to stand out, her line is both elegant and contemporary, with a very consistent taste level.

No look is complete without the perfect pair of shoes and a stylish golf bag. For women, ECCO USA offers a line of fashionable golf shoes sure to go with every outfit on the course. Trendy brand keri golf puts a chic spin on the standard golf bag, with designer Kery Murschell incorporating clean aesthetics and feminine touches to totes, duffels and overnight bags.

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