By  on January 26, 1994

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. -- His club only has 135 male golf members -- and 50 golfing wives -- but Sherwood Country Club head pro Paul Celano is making the most of his ladies' apparel business. In 1993, $140,000 was spent on that segment of his shop here, accounting for 20 percent of the pro's total sales.

"It's picking up fast," says Celano, who notes that the figure also accounts for 40 percent of the shop's apparel sales. "We have more ladies playing and more husband-wife members signing up." An additional 950 women guests play golf each year at the club.

Located just north of Los Angeles, Sherwood's pro shop encounters stiff competition from the omnipresent malls. "To keep an edge, we usually have goods that aren't as easy to find elsewhere," says Celano. "We've tried to shift from street and off-course wear to golf and activewear lines. Women's golf lines have gotten better -- now they're being designed to wear on and off the course." Admittedly, Celano gets some display ideas from local department stores, but takes pride that his shop resembles a high-fashion boutique.

Sherwood bestsellers include Polo, Jean Bell, Sun-Daze, IXSPA, Ashworth, Ellesse and Hanasport. And many women purchase men's caps with the Sherwood logo. "They're buying a lot of the baseball caps -- denims and two-tone wools -- to wear themselves," he says. It's something of a surprise, since aside from logoed caps, items with the Sherwood crest account for only 25 percent of the shop's women's business.

Both Celano and his assistant merchandise manager, Celia Francis, see definitive trends in 1994 golf fashion. For one, they say, people's interest in their shape and looks is reflected in this year's tighter outfits. "Fit has gotten a lot better," says Francis. "There's less elastic on pants. Everyone's going toward 18- to 19-inch shorts, leaving three to four inches above the knee."

Even though he likes where golf fashion is headed, Celano sees opportunities for apparel companies to improve. "I definitely think they have to start bringing back more color," says Celano. "The last three or four years of grays, blacks, khakis and olives have run their course. Ashworth has done some nice things, as have EP Pro, LizSport and Sun-Daze."

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