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8 Stuffy Golf Traditions That Need to Change

By: | Wed 13 Mar 2024

It is time for golf to shed its stuffy image. Before anybody chokes into their gin and tonics and drops their copy of the Daily Telegraph, let me say that I have been in and around this sport for more years than I care to remember. 

I love many of the traditions but this is 2024 and it is time our sport recognised that fact. It is time for change.


Let’s start with the dress code. The leading professionals regularly wear collarless tops. I challenge you to walk into your local pro’s shop wearing one of those and not find yourself being challenged. Why? If it is good enough for Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy then it should be good enough for the rest of us.

And then there are hoodies - a thorny subject in many quarters. I own three of them and spend my life wearing them during the winter. 

You may remember that Tyrrell Hatton caused a storm when he wore one while playing on the DP World Tour. 

If you watched the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, which was played in unseasonably cold conditions, you will have been aware that many of the field were also wearing hoodies. 

As far as I am concerned, this is a perfectly acceptable fashion accessory and there is no reason whatsoever why club golfers should not be allowed to wear them. But they are still frowned upon.


I recently visited Sports Direct and bought two pairs of golf trousers for £22. That’s right - £22, or £11 per pair. You may wonder where this is going. Stick with me. 

I possess five pairs of Levi’s jeans. They each cost me about £80. 

It is perfectly OK for me to turn up on the first tee wearing my £11 trousers. It is also fine for me to wear tartan trousers!

But if I attempt to play while wearing my £80 jeans I will be shown the red card and told to go and change. Why?

If I am playing golf in France then nobody would give me a second look if I was wearing jeans. Why is it unacceptable to wear jeans on the golf course, especially during the winter?

Victor Perez Shorts

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Shorts on Tour

And will somebody please, please, please explain to me why it is fine for caddies to wear shorts in sweltering heat but not for tour professionals to do the same. 

You will know that I am not a fan of LIV Golf but this is something they have definitely got right. They have relaxed the dress code and their players are actively encouraged to wear shorts. Just like the rest of us do when then the temperature starts to rise. 

Mobile Phones

I know many of you will disagree with the next one but surely the time has come to relax our attitude towards mobile phones on the golf course.

I am not advocating the use of phones for endless business calls but there is no reason why we should frown upon individuals who leave their phones switched on while playing golf. And this should especially apply to teenagers. Let them use their phones. For goodness sake, what harm can it possibly do?

Speaking of youngsters, if we really want to attract them in growing numbers then we definitely need to relax the dress code, offer them free golf and ease the restrictions on when they can play. 

Tee Time Restrictions

And speaking of restrictions, there are still golf clubs in the UK that restrict the times when their women members can play. Why? 

If ever there was a huge untapped market it is surely getting more girls and women involved in the game. We should be spreading the message in schools, WI meetings, etc.

US Open Setups

The US Open is a major that traditionally brings the world’s best golfers to their knees. Let’s clear up something right away - I am all for thick rough.

I am sick to the back teeth of seeing PGA and DP World Tour players reducing courses to their knees because they do not have to contend with proper rough. BUT…is it really too much to ask that this year’s US Open at Pinehurst presents the field with greens that are fair? It simply cannot be right that, year after year, they are forced to play to greens that are shaved as close as mirrors - and are hard and fast. 

Seeing the world’s best golfers being made to look like idiots because of tricked-up putting surfaces is not fun to watch and it certainly isn’t fun for the players. Give them a tough test by all means, but make it fair.

The Green Jacket Ceremony

I love The Masters. It is an assault on the senses of the very best kind, the season’s first major played on a course of outstanding natural beauty, a place where the sort of drama you couldn’t script unfolds every single year. 

But…can we please scrap that awful Green Jacket ceremony in the Butler Cabin at the conclusion of play. It is cringeworthy. Year after year I sit and watch the tournament on the edge of my seat and then cringe when the winner is forced to endure that Butler Cabin and everything that goes with it. 

The winner of The Masters should be given his Green Jacket in front of the public. And he should be interviewed by somebody who asks the right questions.

Shock Ryder Cup Venue

I also have another proposal that the real traditionalists among you are going to hate.

The Ryder Cup should be staged at TPC Scottsdale. I believe that this is a no-brainer. It has become one of the biggest events in golf, played in front of passionate, rowdy golf fans.

On the Saturday of the Phoenix Open this year they had to close the gates and turn people away with around 200,000 spectators already in the property. Can you imagine a Ryder Cup played here, with tens of thousands of fans cheering good shots and jeering poor ones? If you think that hitting an opening tee shot is nerve racking, just imagine doing so at Scottsdale.

I have to admit that I used to hate this tournament but it has become one of the highlights of my golfing year. It is a one-off, and golf needs events like this. And this is a golf course that is made for matchplay golf.

Yes the fans are rowdy. Yes, they drink too much. But there is no other atmosphere that comes anywhere close. I believe the course and the galleries are made for what the Ryder Cup has become.

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