February 18, 2014
- Jimmy Walker at Northern Trust, left, and the Sony Open earlier this year (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
By Greg Monteforte, PGATOUR.COM Style Insider
With three victories in the first eight starts of the PGA Tour's 2013-2014 wrap-around season, Jimmy Walker is the talk of the Tour. While his smooth swing and putting stroke are putting him on the top of leaderboards, his neo-classic style is turning heads. I had a chance to catch up with the man responsible for outfitting the leader in FedExCup points, Iliac Golf founder and designer Bert LaMar. See what LaMar had to say about Jimmy's style, the demands of designing clothes for Tour players, and one of the hottest trends on the fairways -- vintage leather headcovers.
Style Insider: We see Jimmy Walker in a lot of classic colors (black, white and navy blue). How would you describe his style on the course? How does his style mesh with your design philosophy at Iliac Golf?
Bert LaMar: To me Jimmy represents a Hoganesque hard working, professional with a modern day athletic build and a slight flair for unique subtle details. Jimmy exudes the Iliac Golf 'Rich in Tradition' look which is the perfect reflection of my brand.
Style Insider: Tyrone Van Aswegen and Danny Lee bring their own unique style and interpretation of your designs to the course. How are their styles different and similar to what we see from Jimmy Walker?
Bert LaMar: Both Danny and Tyrone are rookies on tour and I think they relish the fact that they can stand out and have a unique look, not blend in and still look traditional-similar to JW’s combinations.
Style Insider: Jimmy Walker, Tyrone Van Aswegen and Danny Lee are always well-tailored and on point. How often do you script their apparel choices or counsel them on how your apparel choices and fit?
Bert LaMar: We have great relationships and our communication is consistently flying both ways. Their feedback is what drives me and I think they respect my work from a designer, player and manufacturing perspective. I always have a ton of designs in the works and together we are not just pushing the envelope but blowing it wide open.
Style Insider: Jimmy Walker won the Sony Open in a limited edition shirt that included embroidered palm trees on the collar and one sleeve. You also created limited edition shirts for your guys to wear at the Farmers Insurance Open (paragliders) and Northern Trust Open (symbols of ancient Greek Muses). Where did the inspiration for these shirts come from?
Bert LaMar: These are special iconic events and the meanings come form my fascination with the history and roots of the locations.
Style Insider: You've been out on Tour with your guys quite a bit during the West Coast Swing. What type of feedback are you looking for from your players? How does this feedback trickle down to what you offer Iliac Golf customers?
Bert LaMar: The demands of a tour player on the PGA tour are so far beyond the demands of even the most serious core golfers that it helps me design materials, fibers and silhouettes that meet those demands. I cater my designs to the serious amateur or professional golfer and understand that we all play in many varying elements. I consider my product equipment for the game with a style that makes one feel and look like he’s committed to professional golf at the highest level.
Style Insider: You seem to have a genuine connection and friendship with your players. How important is this to you? What do you look for when choosing a player to represent your brand?
Bert LaMar: I’ve learned from my many years in the skateboard and snowboard world that there are tons of people with talent but it’s harder to find the great people with integrity, passion and the love for the game or sport. I make sure the players I work with have that and we connect well. It’s got to be fun for us both.
Style Insider: Vintage-looking head covers are a big trend on Tour these days. You have designed custom head covers for players such as Graeme McDowell, Jordan Spieth and Hunter Mahan to name a few. Why is this style of head cover making a return to the fairways?
Bert LaMar: I feel like I pioneered the leather head cover category. I think it’s a great way for golfer’s to express their passion for the game’s roots, history and show some unique flair and a connection with our brand and quality items that will last a lifetime.
Style Insider: Alignment sticks have become fixtures in Tour players' bags, but it is weird to see a couple plastic sticks in a nice bag. Plus, they make a racket. You're classing them up and improving the look, though. Where did the idea of alignment stick covers come from?
Bert LaMar: They are one of my patented designs. I saw a few reasons to invent them. First, they protect the driver and woods. Second, they eliminate the chatter noise from the sticks dancing around in the bag. Third, and most important, they finish off a well designed bag. It’s great to see them on almost every tour players bag.