SParms: A growing Australian story - PGA of Australia

SParms: A growing Australian story

One of the PGA of Australia’s greatest supporters is also a wonderful Australian success story.

SParms was established in 2010 on the Gold Coast out of concern for the health and sun safety of Australians. The Australian company manufactures and distributes high-tech athletic apparel for sports and leisure, most famously in the sun protection sleeves that so many golfers on the world’s biggest tours wear regularly to protect themselves.

It has since graduated into a worldwide phenomenon, with product on view in the great stages of golf around the world. It is an official partner of the PGA of Australia and the naming rights partner of the SParms Legends Tour.

The company was started by Chris Lee, a golf professional based at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, and his wife Mimi, who says the “speak for themselves in terms of how important they are”. What began as a concept to help staff and students at Chris’ golf academy has grown into a worldwide brand, the No. 1 on the LPGA Tour for instance.

“We’re about sun safety and we offer an alternative to traditional sunscreen,” said Mimi Lee.

“It was Chris’ idea. He could see a need for the teachers at his academy who were out in the sun for 10 hours a day, and he could see the need for the students as well. He knew that their attention to sun safety was not what it needed to be, and that while kids might apply sunscreen, they didn’t necessarily apply sunscreen properly. Soon enough we realized that the whole industry needed them.”

Sun sleeves existed before SParms, but they were not fashioned for golf. “We customised them to suit the golf community in the western world,” said Mimi Lee. “Plus we introduced the cooling benefits which are important. The products have a cooling layer embedded in them, but they’re not a compression sleeve. They’re not tight or uncomfortable. They come in all the sizes and across a broad range of products.”

SParms reputation comes from the arm sleeves that are so incredibly popular in golf. But the company which incorporates industry-leading fabrics also has products in cycling, archery, and many other sports industries. It also produces products such as masks, shoulder wraps and gloves.

Among the company’s 500 ambassadors is the legendary Karrie Webb, who “swears by them” according to Mimi Lee, having used the sleeves for almost a decade. It is estimated that up to 50 percent of LPGA Tour professionals wear the products, including the likes of Australian superstar Hannah Green, world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, and former world No. 1 Nelly Korda plus around 400 professionals around the world. “It’s now just part of their routine to put on their SParms,” said Mimi Lee. “You won’t see the girls playing without them.”

In Australia, the likes of Daniel Gale and Andrew Dodt use SParms, which have a 50-plus UPF rating. “I wear the shoulder wrap version,” said Gale, a 25-year-old from Sydney who has won several times on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.

“It doesn’t hinder me. It doesn’t get in my way for golf. They’re easy to travel with, nice and light, and most of all, I get the protection. I started wearing SParms the week of the Aussie PGA in 2019. It was just a time when sun safety started to become more of a thing for me. I started to think about all the time I was spending in the sun, all those hours practising and playing, and then I started to wonder what I was going to be like 20 years down the track. Would I need to have all these things cut out because I didn’t protect myself properly. So I absolutely endorse SParms.”

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ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia player Daniel Gale wearing SParms sun protection sleeves.

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