Under Armour deal an elegant fit for Irish amateur squad
 Stewart Grehan shows off his bunker play at the Under Armour Ireland Golf Apparel launch at the GUI National Academy, Carton House. 13/03/2017. Picture courtesy Golffile | GUI

Stewart Grehan shows off his bunker play at the Under Armour Ireland Golf Apparel launch at the GUI National Academy, Carton House. 13/03/2017. Picture courtesy Golffile | GUI

The "UA Spieth One" shoes were designed by Jordan Spieth himself and whether or not a little of Texan's putting magic rubs off on the GUI senior squad, the Golfing Union of Ireland's new apparel deal with Under Armour already looks like a winner with the people that count — the players.

Tony Jacklin made his European Ryder Cup team feel like a million dollars for the first time ever when they stepped off Concorde dressed in cashmere and teed it up in the best clothing money could buy, shod in the finest of leather.

It's not that the GUI's teams were dressed poorly before, far from it, but the kids know what they life and just to see Paul Dunne were and Under Armour top and cap when leading The Open two years ago said it all about the pulling power of a brand that is now one of the leading companies in golf performance wear on the planet.

In Spieth, the most searched for player on PGATour.com, they have the perfect poster boy.

As a result, it's also a feather in the cap of the GUI that Ireland's coveted green shirts will be the only team colours to carry the Under Armour logo on the international stage in 2017.

“The colours are absolutely fantastic and it’s really comfortable, especially the polos and the jumpers," gushed AIG Irish Close champion Alex Gleeson. "They look good but they’re still mobile.

“The Sweaterfleece Quarter Zip is really going to be perfect for windy golf here. I have my own Under Armour gear at home. If I had my choice of gear, this is what I would pick.

"A lot of golf gear is restrictive around the shoulders and the chest whereas this gear gives you the ability to really swing properly.”

Flogas Irish Amateur Open champion Colm Campbell had no hesitation in describing the new footwear and apparel as "world class."

But there's certainly no shortage of tech-speak to go with the new clobber, or performance apparel as it is termed in 2017.

"The UA Performance Polo shirt does not wrinkle, snag, hold odour or fade," the press release explained. 

"A four-way stretch fabrication allows greater mobility and UPF 30+ protects your skin from the sun's harmful rays."

With the Radisson Blu sponsored West of Ireland Championship just around the corner, one wonders if the new waterproofs and wind-cheaters have been blasted with hailstones yet.
 
"Technology incorporated into the UA Storm Sweaterfleece Quarter Zip and Jacket repels water without sacrificing breathability," we were told.

To prove the repellent qualities of the top, Under Armour's Richard Palmer-Jones playfully squirted Gleeson with a bottle of water he was holding.

 Colm Campbell test drives his new GUI Under Armour gear at Carton House. Picture: Golffile | GUI

Colm Campbell test drives his new GUI Under Armour gear at Carton House. Picture: Golffile | GUI

When one member of the press asked if the gear was designed for the average Joe with "maternity" sizes in sweaters and tops, thus avoiding the sight of middle-aged men exploding out of clothes designed for 20-something-year old athletes, the answer from Palmer-Jones was unintentionally hilarious, and informative.

As the press release succinctly explained: "UA Match Play Taper Pant comes with a stretch-engineered waistband for even greater comfort."

Remember that one for the next time you are searching for your post-Christmas dinner pants — it's the pants with the stretch-engineered waistband you are seeking.

Footwear has become the jewel in Under Armour’s crown and Gleeson agrees: “The shoes are unreal. They are so comfortable."

Designed by Spieth, apparently "their ultra-sleek and lightweight design offer incredible fit and feel while rotational resistance spikes allow for multi-directional lockdown traction, enhanced flexibility and maximum control. 

"There will also be room in the Ireland kit for the UA Strikeskin Tour Glove, which is made from Cabretta Leather that stays soft and feels right on every swing."

The deal is worth its weight in gold to the GUI. After all, a happy player is a better player.

“The impact that Under Armour has made in the golfing marketplace in a very short space of time is a testament to the supreme quality of the product," Pat Finn, CEO of the Golfing Union of Ireland said in a statement. "Our agreement with Under Armour ensures that players will be optimally dressed for success this season."

Asked if pulling on that famous green sweater can transform a player psychologically, the GUI's National coach, Neil Manchip, couldn't help but recall some instances where the sweater felt anything but lightweight.

"Yeah, both ways," said the Scot with a grin. "With the best players, it always helps them to thrive and play their best golf.  Other guys, less regularly, might get intimidated and think they have to try harder and do better than what brought them there in the first place."

Giving great players great equipment can only help Irish golf. And with five men on the preliminary GB&I Walker Cup panel — and several others waiting in the wings for a chance to shine — they will walk out looking like a group ready to take on all comers.