Want to look like an LPGA player? Get yourself a big fat staff bag with your name on it and the caddie to carry it. Or spend a whole lot less and get yourself a pair of SParms.
White, sun-blocking sleeves are nearly universal accessories all the tour pros, who spend day after day in the sun seem to be wearing, but I never quite got it. Why not just slather yourself with SPF50 and hit the links? For me, the point of going sleeveless is not to tan but to stay cool—why cover up with an annoying layer of cloth?
Still, I decided to try a pair, since half the fun of my membership to the LPGA Amateur Golf Association is going around saying “I’m an LPGA player now!” So why not try the look, too?
This decade-old Australian product reflects a public health priority in a nation with one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. SParms answer two aspects of the “Slip, Slop, Slap” motto with long sleeves that slip on as an alternative to slopping on sunblock, which nobody uses enough of anyway.
Sizing is critical to playing happily in sun sleeves. You want them tight; think stay-up thigh-high stockings. There’s also a “pantyhose” version that extends a shawl over your shoulders. The size chart goes by wrist and bicep circumference in centimeters. One of those paper medical measuring tapes works great for U.S. buyers, otherwise you’ll have to do the math.
How do find a fit that’s right for both lower and upper arms? I went with Small, snugly comfy on my wrist circumference toward the low end of the range. My bicep was at the high end and the top band seemed too tight at first, but it relaxed enough on subsequent wearings to feel just fine. Sleeve length seemed a bit mingy on my arms (I’m 6 feet tall and have a pterodactyl wingspread), but this also stretched into a better fit after the first wearing.
Bonus: SParms claim to reduce skin temperature by up to 3 degrees Celsius or more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit!
Thanks to a particularly weird period of Northeast weather, I could test my SParms in both 96-degree and 56-degree golf rounds. While I can’t attest to their SPF50+ sunblocking power on arms with a late-season tan, I certainly can vouch for their insulating benefits.
Yes, they actually work both ways—cooling in heat, warming in chill. The latter is pretty straightforward, but cooling relies on some serious technology in the patented microfiber fabric. As the SParms wick away sweat, the sensation is a bit odd but pleasant, almost tingly, especially when a little breeze flows over the fabric.
For comparison, I played a couple holes in the right sleeve only, then took it off and made the rest of my foursome feel both arms. (That is true friendship.) All three said the SParms arm felt cooler. This convinced one woman to slide my spare pair onto her sweaty arms for the last three holes. “I feel cooler!” she exclaimed immediately.