John Ashworth changed the golf apparel industry when he and Gerald Montiel founded Charter Golf in 1987. In case you don’t remember Charter Golf, it’s most famous brand was Ashworth apparel. Its soft collars and relaxed fashion style, created by John Ashworth, made it one of the most talked about and successful companies in the golf industry in the 1990s. Basically, Ashworth was to golf apparel what Callaway Golf was to metal woods. And John Ashworth, like Callaway founder Ely Callaway, became a rock star. Not bad for a former PGA our caddy with a degree in turf grass management from the University of Arizona.
Ashworth left the company in 1997, joined outdoor apparel Quicksilver for four years and in 2001 founded another golf apparel line called Fidra. Ashworth stayed with Fidra for five years and left shortly after it was acquired by Cleveland Golf.
Now Ashworth is back with Linksoul (www.linksoul.com), which he describes “as more a philosophy than a brand,” with the mission to “reconnect golfers with the art and soul of the game.”
It might sound a bit strange to the uninitiated, but that mission statement is vintage John Ashworth. And Linksoul is his finest work to date. Combining subtle shades of blue and white, the collection includes polos, shorts, lightweight jackets and sweaters. Built from natural performance materials, Ashworth said the garments cater specifically to the needs of style-conscious men seeking a comfortable alternative to “golf uniform” technical pieces.
“We will preserve the heritage of the past and engage the future,” Ashworth told me.
The inspiration for the Linksoul collection, he said, are “very similar only completely different” from the ideas that inspired the original Ashworth lines.
“Very Yogi Berra, huh?” Ashworth said. “The inspirations are similar but different because the world has evolved so much and I’m personally a longer way down the path of life. Plus my creative design crew is completely different. I’m working with my nephew, Geoff Cunningham, who’s also an amazing artist. And we work with an amazing designer and friend Rebecca Bray.
“Our minds melt together and the outcome is really good – soft, light weight, sophisticated, natural, easy to care for clothing that travels well and makes guys look and feel great. It’s is comfortable to wear every day. We pay attention to the details and are cautious not to over design.”
Ashworth said Linksoul offers a great look that’s different than what’s available in the market.
“There’s an underserved customer who relates to this look and feels comfortable in our clothing,” Ashworth said. “Visually we will inject art and soul into the game with the goal of promoting the virtues of the game to help make golf accessible and cool so people are attracted to the game. We play golf for the sheer enjoyment of the game, for the recreation, the fresh air, the socializing with your friends or strangers.”