You’ve been there, six feet from par on a dewy morning. You read the green, approach your line, and settle into your stance. You take a practice stroke. What you want to do next is inch in behind your ball and hit the putt, but what’s that on the putter face? A little moisture, some sand, a few blades of grass clinging to the metal like bugs on a windshield? Your towel is hanging from your bag 30 yards away, and even if it was tucked into the back of your pants, the last thing you want to do now is break posture, lose the feel. Instead, you do what golfers have done since Old Tom Morris first hiked up his plus fours: You wipe the club on your pants. Or wipe it with your finger and then wipe the offending digit on your pants.
“It was a persistent problem,” he said, “and I thought, Why not incorporate something into your clothing that could act as a towel?”
Jason Yip feels your pain. A self-professed “burnt-out baseball player” at 16, he was drawn to golf by the late-1990s. He became a player but even more so an enthusiast “with a designer’s eye.” When he teed it up on the often damp, foggy courses of his native northern California, he frequently found himself and others using their pants as smocks. When he watched the pros on TV, they too used their pants to clean their clubs, and they had towel toting caddies just away. “It was a persistent problem,” he said, “and I thought, Why not incorporate something into your clothing that could act as a towel?”
That Eureka moment did not produce immediate results. First came four years at UCLA then a 13-year rollercoaster ride through various Silicon Valley start-ups, where Yip “drank the Kool-Aid,” imbibing the lessons of relentless innovation and disruption. Eventually though, he realized, “I was taking on a lot of risk to try to help other people achieve their dream. I decided to revert to my own dream.” Thus was born State Apparel, Yip’s San Francisco-based golf-clothing company.
State’s signature offering came first, the Competition pants. They feature a tri-layer polyester and Spandex blend that is both stretchy and breathable as well as water, stain, and wrinkle resistant. Those pants also have a fleece lining to add comfort and warmth, and since the fleece wicks moisture, it’s perfect for cleaning clubs. The material dries quickly and once it does most debris, including sand and grass, “sloughs off as you move around,” said Yip. Roll up either cuff and you have an instant and convenient cleaning surface. After the round, roll the cuff down and you’re wearing a clean pair of pants. That same fleece also extends out of the front and back pockets to add hand-wiping options disguised as stylish accents. “They’ve proven to be great for links-style conditions — Scotland, Ireland, Bandon Dunes,” said Yip.
“These aren’t golf pants just because they’re the pants you wear while playing golf,” he said. “They’re golf pants because they were specifically designed to fit the needs of golfers."
Since then, State has put out a lighter weight option, the Fairway pants, which have the same versatile fabric throughout and the same fleece in and around the pockets. The similarly appointed Tempo shorts and “summer weight” Clubhouse pants followed soon after. Yip is incredibly proud of the full line-up, which bring innovation and disruption to what can be a staid game. “These aren’t golf pants just because they’re the pants you wear while playing golf,” he says. “They’re golf pants because they were specifically designed to fit the needs of golfers.”