The terms “polo shirt” and “golf shirt” have been used interchangeably for years in reference to a classic style of short sleeved knit shirt with a placket and rib-knit collar. Within the apparel industry, however, there are clear distinctions between the definition of each.
A true golf shirt is distinguished by a tailored collar, a separate (or set-on) placket that is sewn on independently, hemmed sleeves and a chest pocket. Often, the pocket is located on the right side of the shirt in true golf styling, so as not to interfere with the golfer’s swing. Sleeves are generously sized with a length that falls just above the elbow. Shirts having these features are unquestionably top of the line.
Apart from the weight and the strength of the fabric, there are other considerations that further delineate golf shirts. The general trend is to more cotton content because of its natural properties of comfort and breathability. There are several types of knits, including interlock, jersey, lisle, and plaited knits. The primary distinction is the knit’s structure, each designed for its own particular application, and all suitable for embroidery.
Like T-shirts, better golf shirts employ more material. They are cut both full and long, occasionally incorporating a tail. The placket and sleeve should be completely top stitched to give a clean, finished appearance, outside and in. The same is true if of vents; a lesser golf shirt has a slit vent that is merely turned over and sewn down rather than finished with topstitching.
Golfers also prefer a shirt that will retain its color and size over time. There are three facets to a quality golf shirt; these are the quality of the raw materials, coupled with the stitching and the cut of the garment. If you want to add a fourth factor, it’s the overall performance, the end result of doing the rest right.
Often referred to as a Lacoste knit, pique mesh (pronounced pee-kay) has distinct right and wrong sides. The right side resembles a honeycomb or waffle and the wrong side is flat and smooth, similar to the front of jersey knit. The pique has a coarse, firm hand and generally uses fine yarns. However, when heavier or thicker yarns are used to knit a pique, a larger honeycomb effect is achieved.
The jersey is the lightest of the three knit types. Like the pique, it has two different sides. The right side shows vertical rows of loops or “wales”. The loops on the wrong side are wavier and run crosswise, Jersey is knit tightly with fine yarn and it tends to be the least expensive knitting processes. Jersey fabric is most associated with its ubiquitous use in T-shirts.
Double-knit construction makes this the heaviest of the three knits. The weave is the same on both sides of the fabric. Its weight makes it an ideal fabric for custom embroidery, because it allows sewn designs to retain almost all of their original shape and luster after multiple washings. Although there are no distinctive knit features, interlock’s tight weave gives the smoothest surface and the finest hand. It is similar in cost to produce as a pique mesh.
A plaited jersey or cotton is a blend of polyester and cotton in which most of the cotton is knitted to the wrong side, and most of the polyester is knitted to the right side. This provides a soft hand, and dull finish to the wrong side and a soft, but slick and shiny, finish on the right side. A plaited jersey is usually a 75% polyester, 25% cotton blend and the plaited cotton is usually 40% polyester, 60% cotton blend. So, a plaited cotton will be slightly less shiny than a plaited jersey.
A calendered jersey will have a slightly different appearance than a traditional jersey because the fabric is pressed by rollers to give it a smoother, compacted look. This knit also has less elasticity than other jersey materials.