Helpful Hints on How to Dress... For Arctic Golf or a Polar Fest ☃

January. ~ Here in the US it's that time of year... when those of us living in the Northeast or the Midwest are obliged to suffer in frosty silence... or rant and whine on our blogs and Facebook pages... while those in the South languish and gloat... and play lots of golf... in their balmy, palm-tree-shaded communities.

Not so in 2010. The so-called "Arctic Blast", darling of Weather Channel reporters and members of the Polar Bear Club, has descended on most of the country. With even those in Florida and TX feeling its wrath.

For that reason I thought it appropriate to re-post a piece I did during our last nation-wide cold wave almost three years ago on:

Stylish Dressing for a Cold Weather Round.

There's an old saying that goes. "When the weather gets cold, golfers get layering". OK, I just made that up, but in fact, it couldn't be truer, because as a round progresses over two or three ...or more... hours, there are definitely going to be temperature variations. If you want to stay comfortable, you want to be able to take off...put back on...and take off again..with relative ease. But remember: layering is an art form. Particularly on the golf course, where ill-conceived, bulky pieces can interfere with your swing, decrease flexibility or worse yet, make you look overweight and unstylish. Ick. We definitely don't want that, do we? So... how do we put this layered look together, and what are the essential pieces?

I posed the question to Rex Worthington, the always dapper, uber-metrosexual who manages our club's pro shop, and has been known to give me a golf lesson or two, when he feels so inclined. "I would recommend wearing a turtleneck and a Gortex-lined wind shirt" He replied breezily in his ultra sexy elegant British accent. As if that was it...absolutely all you needed. And of course I immediately conjured up images of him setting up at the tee wearing his UnderArmour turtleneck and Lacoste wind shirt .. and absolutely nothing else. The image of his bare-bottomed practice swing wasn't all together unpleasant, but let me not digress, we have work to do here.

OK, there's much more to it than Rex revealed, however, the two pieces he mentioned are, in fact, key elements, so we'll begin with them.

The turtleneck can be either your first or your second layer. I think Rex had something like the the high tech UnderArmour Metal Mock at left in mind, But you could also go for a more conventional wool turtleneck that you might wear over a traditional undershirt, (thermal or otherwise) for about the same level of warmth, and just a bit more bulk.

The wind shirt (or windbreaker, or jacket)is the logical second or third layer. It serves as a shell to protect against wind and/or moisture. This particular piece comes in a multitude of different styles, so make your choice according to your personal preference, but keep in mind that a full zippered jacket will be easier to take off and on than a wind shirt style with half zipper. Depending on temperature the fabric could be light nylon, thermal fleece, Gortex or even wool.

The optional third or fourth layer is there to provide that extra layer of protection on a bitter day. It can take the form of a narrowly cut ski jacket or it can be a vest of some sort. In both cases, this is where you need to give some thought to avoiding the Michelin Tire Man look. With all the styles on the market today though, that should be quite easy to do.

With that you've pretty much got your trunk covered. Now to the bottom.

If it's really cold it might be worth considering a first layer of long johns or Under Armor bike pants... or perhaps wool tights for a woman. In most cases however a good pair of winter trousers will suffice. Corduroy, or wool both work and I sometimes wear velour, I'm big into velour. The one thing I don't abide is denim. I don't know why, I'm not a big stickler for golf course dress codes, but I just don't think jeans belong on a golf course, no matter what the season. Maybe it's because I personally don't like jeans and never wear them? Yes, that might have something to do with it. Anyway Nick wears them when ever he gets the chance and pays no attention to my protests.

So basically, we've got the whole body covered and we can move on to the fun part: accessories. Now it's important to remember that much of one's body heat is lost through the head, hands and feet so these accessories are much more than just decorative. Let's start with socks and shoes. Very important to keep your feet as warm and dry as possible. Your normal golf shoes may well do the trick but do try have a pair that's water resistant. Some of Nike's shoes have a Water Shield lining that claims to be 100% water tight. One of my major gripes is that it can be difficult to find nice golf shoes in dark colors. They're becoming somewhat easier to find now though, thus sparing us from having to break the sacred no white shoes after Labor Day, rule.

As far as socks, you want warm and woolen, beyond that heated socks are available for those with temp sensitive tootsies. Golf mittens? Definitely a good idea when the mercury plunges. Not only are cold hands uncomfortable...for you and those you touch...they're also less flexible and more susceptible to injury.

And what about a winter golf hat? We focused on hats in last weeks fashion file however that was basically done with style in mind. What we're talking about here is something that actually keeps your head warm. So the logical choice would be a wool ski hat and there's an endless array of choices, including those made by the major golf manufacturers. The other option is a headband that just covers and protects the ears. This can be ultra stylish if you have great hair, but it doesn't provide nearly the warmth of the ski cap.

The last thing I can think of is a scarf. Not only does a wool scarf add an additional warming element right around the neck and ears where it's most welcome, but you can also tie it creatively to express your personal style. And... if you happen to be riding, why not bring along a blanket? I brought my cashmere car blanket along a couple of times in the fall and it was cozy and relaxing. Nick said it looked ridiculous to have a blanket in the cart. Of course I ignored him. And next round, I intend to bring a Slanket. See what he thinks of that. (Note: The Slanket was a precursor to now-much-more-popular Snuggie

A couple of additional cold weather tips:

When dressing for a round of golf, a good rule of thumb is always to dress for ten degrees colder for the golf course. The golf course provides more of an open space where wind variations can be quite extreme.

Clothing made with Gortex is excellent for use in bad weather. Gortex is made to repel water and allow body moisture to escape as water vapor. The fabric also protects the body from wind.

Fleece and velour are cuddly. Cuddly is good.

A small thermos of Irish Coffee, Rum Hot Chocolate or Hot Brandy Cider is works wonders on a cold day. If not, a flask of Canadian Whiskey is an acceptable substitute.