The Inconsistent and Maddening Dress Code Rules in Golf

By: | Mon 17 Jul 2017 | Comments

Have you ever wondered why it is permissable for caddies to wear shorts on the European and PGA Tours, while the players who employ them are forbidden from doing so?

Golf struggles to shed its stuffy image and when you see players battling to cope in temperatures nudging 100F it is difficult to understand why the powers-that-be would stop them from wearing shorts. Let's be honest about this - today's tailored shorts are superb, and look a damn sight better than some of multi-coloured pairs of trousers you witness on the fairways of the world. Tailored shorts are also expensive.

Are the tours seriously trying to tell us that it is all right for professionals to wear John Daly's Loudmouth range of clothing but they can't put on a pair of expensive, well-tailored Under Armour shorts? It is stark raving bonkers. 

And why is it acceptable for pros to wear collarless tops but if us mere mortals attempt to board the first tee wearing exactly the same item of clothing the club pro will come bounding out of the shop and point us in the direction of the changing rooms.

"Sorry sir, you can't play dressed like that."

"But Tommy Fleetwood won the French Open wearing a top exactly like this, and Tiger Woods has been doing it for years."

"I don't care if Tommy Fleetwood wore a top like that on the catwalk at London Fashion Week and then wore it again to pick up the Claret Jug, you are not going out on the course wearing a top without a collar. And sorry, Tiger who?"

"But why not?"

"It's the rules."

What he really wants to tell you is: "It's the law." And he would just love to be able to fine you or give you some kind of clothes violation endorsement. "Because this is your first offence, as a punishment, you will have to wear a lurid orange polo shirt for your next three rounds of golf. Repeat the offence and you will be donning the lime green top and sherbet yellow trousers for a month. Are we clear on this? If you commit four offences in a year, you will have to wear a pink top and purple trousers with a subtle yellow stripe for six months."

So the choice is a simple one: you either head for home or you are forced to enter his shop and pay way over the odds for a branded polo shirt with an infernal collar.

We should be thankful for small mercies. It is not that long ago that it was compulsory to wear knee-length socks if you dared to play golf in shorts. 

But why is it that one set of rules seems to apply to men while an entirely different set works for women? In the main, it appears that if you are a woman then just about anything goes (ladies, if you know different, then please enlighten me). They don't have to wear polo shorts with collars, they are allowed to wear shorts that are VERY short and skirts that are shorter still.

The LPGA Tour has recently tried to address the issue of dress code, although anybody who watched the US Women's Open will wonder if anybody paid a blind bit of notice. LPGA player president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman emailed all players to detail the new regulations, which come with a $1,000 fine for each violation.

Here they are:

Racerback with a mock or regular collar are allowed (no collar = no racerback). You may well be wondering what a 'racerback' is. Fear not, for we have the answer. It is an item of clothing, typically a singlet, in which the shoulder straps are joined between the shoulder blades. Erm, precisely how on earth could a collar be incorporated on such an item of clothing? Answers on a postcard please... 

Plunging necklines are not allowed. For the older men among us with weaker hearts, that comes as good news

Leggings, unless under askortor shorts, are NOT allowed. Our view is that leggings should never be allowed, under any circumstances. Length of skirt, skort, and shorts must be long enough to not see your bottom area (even if covered by under shorts) at any time, standing or bent over. Whaaaat? If anybody, male or female, bends over then it is a fact of life that you are going to see his or her "bottom area".

Appropriate attire should be worn to pro-am parties. You should be dressing yourself to present a professional image. Unless otherwise told “no,” golf clothes are acceptable. Dressy jeans are allowed, but cut-offs or jeans with holes are NOT allowed. We are talking here about fashion-conscious young women who spend a great deal of money on clothes. We are pretty certain that they don't need to be told how to dress to attend pro-am parties 

Workout gear and jeans (all colours) not allowed inside the ropes. Oh come on, please! Do the LPGA really believe that they have to tell players not to wear jeans? Apart from anything else, most of their tournaments are played in sweltering heat - who, in their right mind, would compete in such conditions while wearing denim? Or workout clothing?

Joggers are NOT allowed. You don't say!

Unsurprisingly, the LPGA has played down the changes: "The dress code requires players to present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game. While we typically evaluate our policies at the end of the year, based on input from our players, we recently made some minor adjustments to the policy to address some changing fashion trends. The specifics of the policy have been shared directly with the members."


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