Golf Course Clothing Etiquette

By Garry Smits

Team sports have uniforms. Individual sports, such as swimming or gymnastics, have clothing that enhances performance. But golf fashion is limited only by the imagination--and a few rules of common sense, etiquette and good taste. Much is dictated by tradition and the rules of the particular golf course or golf club you're playing as a member or a guest.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Step 1
Find out the dress code policies of golf courses in your area where you may be doing most of your playing. Almost all private, semi-private and resort golf courses have strict requirements for clothing on the course (and even on the practice areas and the clubhouse, even if you're not playing). Municipal courses and public courses may allow T-shirts and jeans. But those are few in number. To avoid embarrassing situations, know the policies before you play there.
Step 2
Visit to a clothing store or a golf shop that sells apparel. The good news is that national clothing stores ranging from low price-points such as Wal-Mart and Target to high-end stores such as Macy's and Bloomingdale's, have sections for men and women that feature clothing specifically for golf. Most national golf equipment store chains also have any clothing you might need, as well as your club's pro shop. However, the prices usually will be higher.
Step 3
Men should purchase comfortable khaki and cotton pants and shorts. They should be a classic color such as black, beige, olive or tan. Try to avoid white pants--golf is played on the ground, and mud and grass stains have a way of getting on white without you really trying. Women can wear almost any kind of pants, shorts, skirts or chinos, as long as they fit the color scheme suggested above. Golf in the 21st century is trying to shed the image of plaid or other loud pants. It's a cliche that is best left to Caddyshack.
Step 4
Men should purchase golf shirts with a traditional collar. Color-coordinate for a cool, smooth Tiger or Phil Mickelson look. Tropical patterns or horizontal stripes are fine with solid-colored pants.
Step 5
Enjoy more freedom in the cut of your shirt if you are a woman. Collarless shirts are permissible in most cases. However, ladies need to forget about attracting attention and leave tops such as halters or anything with bare backs and plunging necklines at home--or at least for the post-tournament cocktail parties.
Step 6
Wear a matching warm-up suit if the weather gets chilly. They are allowed on almost any golf course.

Tips & Warnings

If all of this appears to be on the stuffy side, there remain a few public courses in most areas that allow jeans and T-shirts. You probably know where they are, but if there is any doubt, a quick phone call to the course to inquire about the dress code will save embarrassment.

About The Author

Garry Smits has covered the PGA Tour and professional and amateur golf since 1995 for the "Florida Times-Union" in Jacksonville. He has earned 29 local, state and national writing and editing awards, including six from the Golf Writers Association of America.


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