Golf is a sport which is becoming increasingly popular. However golf, while it is a sport that is accessible to practically anyone within distance of a driving range or course, still has some particulars as to what is appropriate attire when out on the grass with your clubs.
For the most part, when one thinks of golfers, usually two images come to mind.
The first is that of pants with loud prints, an argyle sweater, and an oversize bonnet with a pom-pom on top. Luckily, those days are behind us and one can actually wear nicely coordinated clothes.
The second image is that of the contemporary masters in their Polo shirts and relaxed trousers (or shorts, depending on the season), eying up their targets and walking casually from hole to hole.
While this seems to be the norm, not all courses have the same regulations, and its best to know what is appropriate to wear when golfing. They type of course you play on has very specific rules.
Most municipal or public golf courses go by the standard of “no shirt, no service.” Basically, they have no specific dress code, but you must at least make an effort to actually be clothed. While shorts, flip-flops, and a t-shirt might seem like a good idea for the comfort, you might take into account that not only are you opening yourself up to sunburn and the occasional insect bite, but that you (and those around you) are swinging metal clubs (there’s a reason they call them that). Missing and driving solid metal against your exposed and ankle or foot will cut your game early, so you might want to at least wear sneakers that offer good cushioning and coverage.
If you decide that you want to play on a private course – even if you are just playing for one day, rather than fully joining, odds are that they will have a dress code. The best rule to follow here, is the same one that applied to restaurants – The fancier and higher the price, the more stringent the dress code.
While many courses have a minimum policy of players having to wear collared shirts and rules against denim pants, some organizations require a bit more than a polo shirt and khakis. Some require actual golf pants (visit your local sporting goods store for a variety of colors and styles). There is always the option of buying your clothes at a particular course or club’s pro shop, but the prices there are usually higher than you would find elsewhere.
Also keep in mind that what you see the pros wearing on the PGA tournaments isn’t necessarily what is required of you. Just because you saw a famous golfer wearing a cardigan sweater over a t-shirt doesn’t mean you will get that option. The typical response is going to be something along the lines of, “Well, you aren’t that famous golfer, so unless you’re here to play The Masters, you’re going to follow our rules.” The other side of this is that you won’t have to break the bank to get a really nice designer outfit, only to be told it doesn’t meet with the course’s rules on golfing attire.
Don’t think you can get around the rules by wearing one of those “ironic” t-shirts with the collar and buttons printed on, either. Golf is a time-honored and respected sport, and as such, it pays to be respectful to the rules and guidelines set down by each course.
As far as footwear goes, flip-flops are definitely out, but many courses and clubs also have rules against metal cleats, as well. The reasoning for this isn’t fashion – it’s that the metal spikes tear up the ground as you walk, and to make and maintain the grass on a course (growing, watering, manicuring, and filling in divots where clubs have removed entire chunks of earth) isn’t cheap. You’re already paying to play on a private course, why make your fees increase by tearing up the grounds even further?
So how do you know what to wear exactly?
Well, the more indirect route would be to observe the course you’re planning to play, and see what others are wearing. In most cases, it won’t be anything more than golfing pants, a polo-style shirt with a collar, and tennis shoes. This certainly will not put you far out of your way, and you probably have most of those things in your wardrobe already.
The most direct thing you can do is to call ahead to the course or club you plan on attending and ask what their rules and regulations are on golfing attire. This will remove all of the guesswork and put everyone at ease. You will know how you are expected to dress when playing, and the golf course attendants won’t have to send you home for improper golfing attire. Calling ahead saves time and embarrassment for all parties involved.
Go out there and enjoy yourself on the green, but remember to check with the course owners to make sure that you are dressed for the occasion.