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The Ultimate Golf Rain Gear

High-tech apparel can keep you dry on the course, no matter how intense the April showers.

For golfers, April brings first and foremost the Masters tournament, which for many recreational types signals the start of their playing season.

Second and secondarily, it brings April showers to dampen any newly restored enthusiasm. In every golfer's life, more than a little rain is sure to fall.

Yet rain gear usually ranks beneath extra socks on our priority list. Should we even remember to bring waterproof stuff to the course, it's as wrinkled as the back of a tour pro's neck from being rolled up in our golf bag -- never mind ugly, out-of-date, as breathable as a rubber suit and often not even sport-specific.

(No matter how much time you spend off the fairways and in the trees, golf is not the same as duck hunting.)

We seem to think preparedness itself guarantees bad weather.

Of course, there's another way to look at things: If we spend enough money, the ever-sadistic golf gods will ensure that our purchase goes unused, like a tuxedo bought just before the bride gets cold feet.

By this logic, the purchase of Tour Stretch rain gear from

Dunning Golf should keep away the drops until sometime next year.

Spending $1,200 on a jacket and a pair of pants is a sunshine-worthy sacrifice, no?

Dunning Golf is a Canadian company founded by principal designer Ralph Dunning, a former marathon, triathlon, Ironman and endurance cycling competitor, and as such someone who understands the importance of fabric performance.

He turned to golf after the inevitable knee problems and now plays to a single-digit handicap -- more than respectable, if no match for Dunning-sponsored PGA Tour pros Zach Johnson and John Senden.

The company is certainly no

FootJoy in terms of golf-outerwear market share, but it is making noise among the elite of talent, taste and wallet.

Making noise is one of the last things you want from your rain gear, however, and Tour Stretch remains as quiet as the Augusta National galleries, owing to fabric developed in conjunction with Switzerland's Schoeller Textiles.

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The material stretches in four directions, not two, so you're also free to make as full a swing as you could wish for, and damn the torpedoes.

It's also single-layer, so it's lightweight.

That it remains fully waterproof for six straight hours means you could complete a round in the notoriously snail-paced, rain-filled AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and still stay as dry as Tiger Woods' palms under pressure.

This is all well and good, as is the "NanoSphere" technology that repels stains and wipes clean, so that post-round chili dog can be wolfed down with relish.

And the focus on fit, rather than ancillary items such as card pockets and fashion-backward elements such as huge waistbands and ballooning rear shoulder pleats will please players for whom getting the right line refers not only to their putts but also to their silhouette. There's even an adjustable bottom hem on the pants for tailoring.

Still, you ask, $700 for a rain jacket and $500 for rain pants?

There's also a half-sleeve shirt for $450 and a vest for $300; each piece is sold only individually. Tops come in three colors -- gray, black and navy -- while the pants are available in black only.

You could spend this money on lessons, sure, or more likely, on a gleaming new set of irons or a mongo driver. But consider: Will either a better swing or better clubs react to changes in your body temperature and adjust to make you more comfortable?

That's what "c_change: The Bionic Climate Membrane" does. (With a name like that, you should be thankful the clothes' technology doesn't set you back $6 million. And kudos to the marketing team for not calling it "climate change," which doesn't exactly have positive connotations these days.)

During cold weather or when you're not sweating, the fabric's polymer structure condenses to provide better insulation: The retention of your body heat helps keep you warm. When it's warm, that structure opens, and excess body heat and moisture can escape to the air outside.

As the old joke about the Cajun and the thermos goes, but how do it know?

Don't ask so many questions. Just be thankful you have $1,200 to spend on rain gear in the first place.

The Tour Stretch line will be available beginning in July; in the meantime, Dunning's current Pro Stretch collection offers many of the same features and technology that will be found in Tour Stretch at around one-third the price.

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Evan Rothman is a freelance writer living in Staatsburg, N.Y. A former executive editor at Golf Magazine, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Men's Journal and other leading publications.