Friday, October 01, 2010

Sun Mountain waterproofs prove problematic at Ryder Cup

A Yahoo Sports clip about the current Ryder Cup series included the following:

A U.S. team source told Yahoo! Sports that the standard waterproofs, provided by Montana-based company Sun Mountain, were holding too much liquid and thus weighed down players and caddies alike. Captain Pavin had been alerted to the problem by the time the opening pair of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson had reached the second green, and an emergency plan was put into action.

A team official was hastily dispatched to the merchandising tent, where almost the entire stock of ProQuip waterproof trousers were purchased, according to a store worker.

“They bought more than 20 pairs,” the employee told Yahoo! Sports.

The emphasis on trousers and being weighed down has interesting implications.

The article noted the irony in the US buying ProQuip equipment because ProQuip is the official waterproof supplier to the European team. Furthermore, apart from the lack of functionality, the Sun products seemed to have styling problems. The Yahoo story noted:

The U.S. team waterproofs didn’t just bother the players; they attracted criticism for their look and design as well. Former Tiger Woods coach Butch Harmon, commentating on British television, described them as “not right” and insisted they looked more like a basketball practice uniform.

Text from the Ealing Gazette included:

A statement from the PGA of America said that the original clothing made by the Montana-based Sun Mountain company "did not repel the water to the players' liking". (...)

"It's unbelievable," said former Open champion Paul Lawrie when he heard the story.
"I assume they would have been tested and it seems an incredible lapse."
Phil Mickelson's coach Butch Harmon commented: "They are the ugliest things I have ever seen and if they don't work as well it's not a good thing.

Darren Rovell of cnbc noted:

n one of the strangest arrangements in sports marketing, the companies that get awarded the rights to make the gear by the US team captain cannot put its logo on the gear, cannot publicize its relationship with the Ryder Cup and cannot sell its gear at retail per PGA of America rules.

So Sun Mountain did NOT get to place its trademark on the waterproofs or advertise its relationship to the Ryder Cup, BUT gets the adverse publicity when the gear doesn't work well. A bit of an IP puzzlement.

Of waterproofs, the Sun Mountain website notes:

Sun Mountain guarantees the Provisional to be waterproof for one year from the date of purchase. The suit is seam-sealed and treated with a Dupont Teflon DWR coating for extra protection from the rain.

Sun Mountain's US 20090179058 published patent application includes the text:

Golf is a sport which its practitioners often take very seriously. Golfers are always looking for ways in which they can improve their shot making and scoring and general enjoyment of the game. Often these advances take the form of "improvements" in the equipment used to play the game (clubs and balls). Others relate to accessories which improve the quality of the experience, such as golf bags, carts and head covers.


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