SOUTHPORT, England – The merchandise tent at the British Open is not the experience that it once was.
The tent of today, where clothing with the Open logo tops the main list of products, is a far cry from the exhibitions of club makers, booksellers and travel operators that made the tent a must-see during past Opens.
This week, the R&A has introduced Hugo Boss as its main clothing supplier, replacing Ralph Lauren Polo.
The Hugo Boss line is pricey, with half-zip sweaters from £100 (about $130) to £189 ($246), and they are only wool, not cashmere. But according to the very nice Hugo Boss salesperson, the cost is tied to the design and water repellency.
I might think about getting wet instead.
Ahead pullover sweatshirt
Boss polo shirts range from £109 ($142) to £75 ($98), considerably more than the Open Collection shirts made by Ahead in its signature label brand starting at £57 ($74) for solids and £65 ($85) for stripes.
The Italian maker Marbas also offers some high-end cotton shirts for £75 ($98), likely the best value for the price.
Pro Quip is offering waterproof jackets, which likely will be needed this week, with poor weather forecast at Royal Birkdale. Half- and full-zip jackets are available from £135 ($176) to £200 ($260).
One of the best bargains of the tent this year may be the Lyle & Scott woolen sweaters, with some commemorating the 1978 Open at St. Andrews won by Jack Nicklaus. The Morham, a V-neck jumper with a purple, lavender and white pattern on a black sweater, is based on what Nicklaus wore at the Old Course to win his third and final Claret Jug. At £80 ($104), it is a great value.
Another sweater designed to honor Nicklaus is a half-zip Garvald, with a light blue pattern on the sleeves and a black body that sells for £90 ($117). A crewneck Rothesay features a light-and-medium-blue pattern on the front of a black-bodied sweater, for £80 ($104).
Hats with the Open logo range from £22 ($29) to £25 ($33), in a variety of colors.
If the weather grows colder, pullover hats are also available for £22 ($29) and golf umbrellas for £36 ($47).
An Open backpack sells for £55 ($72), and pin flags go for £20 ($26).
The sweatshirts made by Ahead, in pullover £55 ($72) and half-zip £75 ($98) models, present another deal. With the variety of colors and the prominent Open logo, the sweatshirts will be a rare sight in the U.S.
Pro Quip full-zip waterproof jacket
The value-added tax adds 20 percent, but at least some VAT money will be credited back to any buyer who does not reside in the European Union. Visitors must complete forms to be stamped at the airport by HM Customs and Excise and then mail the documents to the tax-free company listed on the envelope provided by the merchant.
Golf fans fortunate enough to have access to the clubhouse at Royal Birkdale this week can buy merchandise at the pro shop, where head professional Brian Hodgkinson would be happy to assist. For those at home, the gear is available online: https://shop.theopen.com/
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli