Are We Having Fun Yet? Chens On Golf For WSJ

Wed 29 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Sport — Christian
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By now you’re all familiar with my learning golf on Brooks Brothers’s simulator. In fact, when comment-leaver “woofboxer” was visiting New York recently, he knew right where to find me.

Apparently I’m one of a diminishing number of adults inclined to take up the sport later in life. Golf has lost 5 million players over the past decade, especially among young people, and the industry is seriously concerned. So last week new initiative called Hack Golf was launched. Its founders are asking the golfing public how to make the sport more fun.

“More fun?” I respond in a piece that runs on the op-ed pages of today’s Wall Street Journal. “Whoever said golf was supposed to be fun?”

Is learning the violin fun? Is becoming a competitive chess player fun? Minigolf, with its colored balls and Ferris wheels, is fun. But the satisfaction derived from real golf is much more profound than the word “fun” would suggest. Golf is something like rock climbing, except the risk is not a shattered back but a bruised ego.

It’s for those who, however laid back they might otherwise be, have an alpha streak that keeps them impervious to the ritual humiliation the sport inflicts. Golf is beyond fun: It is the ultimate sporting test of physical coordination, mental focus, strategy and nerves. “It takes a special kind of person to play golf,” an instructor at Golf Manhattan once told me, since for those who take it up later in life, “it’s just too hard.”

Head over here to access the full essay. — CC

18 Holes Of Agony And Ecstasy
How do you feel about golf?

Update: In case you encounter a pay wall using the link above, here’s the text of the piece:

Whoever Said Golf Was Supposed To Be Fun?
Gimmicks to appeal to young people send the wrong message. Face it, the sport is cruel.

Representatives from the golf and business industries last week unveiled, an initiative designed to address the calamity of the sport’s rapidly diminishing number of participants. The sport has lost five million players in the U.S. over the past decade, according to the National Golf Foundation, including a 30% drop in golfers age 18-34. Since conventional ideas—such as encouraging faster play through a television ad campaign and youth programs such as The First Tee—have done little to halt the decline of golf in America, Hack Golf aims to crowdsource random and radical ideas as a way of thinking outside the tee box. GPS nanotechnology on golf balls, for example, would certainly make finding them easier.In the keynote presentation at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Hack Golf founders Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade Golf, and associates Joe Beditz, CEO of the National Golf Foundation and business strategist Gary Hamel, asked what the industry can do to make golf more fun. They’re asking the wrong question, because whoever said golf was supposed to be fun? (Continue)

The Popped Polo (Coat, That Is)

Sun 26 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Clothes — Christian
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popped polo coat

I’ll confess to popping the collars on all my overcoats, including my raincoat, most of the time. Not for preppy reasons: I just can’t seem to shake that 19th century influence.

Zach of Newton Street vintage recently posted about popped polos — polo coats, that is — which got us thinking about finally mentioning there’s a tumblr site entirely devoted to polo coats and their cousins.

We haven’t done a poll in a while, so let’s see how the numbers break down among you guys when it comes to popping wool, cashmere and camelhair collars, as opposed to cotton piqué:

Overcoat Collars
Do you pop the collar on your overcoats?

It’s certainly been polo coat weather lately. I’m heading into town in mine, worn lazy-Sunday style with grey flannels, boat shoes, turtleneck under buttondown, vintage-varsity-styled shawl cardigan from RL, and a baseball cap from the Newport Jazz Festival.

And no, I’m not wearing such a getup to church. — CC


A Wing And A Pair: Beckett Simonon’s Budget-Conscious, Welted Longwing

Fri 24 Jan 2014 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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We received a message from Beckett Simonon, a shoe company that launched in 2012, touting its new collection of shoes atimed at the budget-conscious guy who still wants quality. The shoes, which are made in India, feature Goodyear-welt construction, a durable manufacturing process associated with shoes priced much higher.

Here’s an extract from the company’s press release:

“We see a huge gap in the men’s footwear market. It’s outrageous that well-made leather shoes retail above $300. We operate without the complex layers of big businesses (no middlemen, no distributors, no expensive physical stores, etc.) so we can offer the same quality products for a much more affordable price,” says Andres Niño, CEO and co-founder of Beckett Simonon. “By selling directly to consumers we bypass the traditional retail markup, around 2.5X, so we are technically selling to consumers at wholesale prices.” Beckett Simonon is the only online footwear company to sell Goodyear Welted construction shoes under $139, setting them apart from competitors with equivalent craftsmanship and materials but retailing above $300.

As the American gold-standard in quality shoe construction, Goodyear Welt construction holds together the sole, insole and upper sole with one thick stitch and a leather welt. Between the insole and outsole is a cork layer that creates a custom-like footbed, which makes the shoe breathable and flexible.

Beckett Simonon’s longwings, pictured above, are just $139. The color is too light for me personally (and I’m not a longwing fan anyway), and I’d recommend swapping out the laces, but they certainly seem to fill an opening in the shoe market. Not every new grad or frugal trad can follow the “Official Preppy Handbook’s” advice and invest a week’s salary in a pair of Church’s shoes. — CC


Corpore Sano: The Preppiest Sport Is Also The Healthiest

Wed 22 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Sport,WASPdom — Christian
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On Monday night I was invited by the brand Boast to spectate at the squash Tournament of Champions, currently underway in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal.

Coming from a Cali-plebian background, I’d never seen the sport played before. I was very intrigued, though, as for a few years I nursed an intense badminton obsession, playing up to five days per week at a full-time club and training under a coach from the Chinese national team. Badminton is little understood and derided here in the US (the “Official Preppy Handbook” extolls squash as the preppiest of sports while taking a crack at badminton) and of course carries no social prestige. I ended up writing a piece for the LA Times Magazine that tried to correct some of the misconceptions, and if you’ve never seen it played at an elite level before, have a look.

I’d heard that squash and badminton were similar, not only for the intensity, but also the footwork and all the lunging. Boast had a box in the front row, and after a couple of hours, with help from company president John Dowling, I went from being totally bewildered by what was happening to the ball to following every shot with anticipation. It was fascinating and the athletes are absolute ironmen.

The sport is not just preppy by chance. It was actually invented at the English boarding school Harrow and first appeared in the US in 1884 at St. Paul’s in New Hampshire. (Continue)


News Roundup: WASPs, Prepdom, Maine, And What Yalies Do After Graduation

Mon 20 Jan 2014 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
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We’re finally catching up with some news items of the past few weeks.

First up is, “a marketplace for buying and selling preowned high-end menswear.” It was recently launched by class of 2013 Yale grad Arun Gupta, who tells us he spent much time at J. Press.

In an email Gupta explained the business model:

There are many similar sites that cater towards women and I thought that the menswear community deserved one as well. Our goal is to provide a secondary market for exclusive brands like Visvim and Epaulet. It’s free to use and I’m hoping it will become a positive resource for the male fashion community. There’s a lot of great stuff up there already; a lot of the clothes are new or barely used, so it’s basically just high end fashion at a lower price.


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