The Rules, As Shown by the Pros
Men must always wear a collared shirt tucked in and at some clubs are not allowed to wear shorts, no matter what the weather. The PGA Tour has a firm rule that men are not allowed to wear shorts during tournament play. However, if you have ever seen the LPGA on TV, you know women can pretty much wear what they want as long as they look "classy." Annika Sorenstam has been seen numerous times without a collared shirt, and many LPGA pros have shirts that are not long enough to be tucked in (i.e. Michelle Wie). However, you also have traditionalists like Lorena Ochoa who will wear decent-length shorts with a belt and a tucked-in, collared shirt. Some women even wear skorts.
Here's a good rule of thumb for women: If the clothing brand is a recognized golf wear company, it is acceptable to wear on the course. Sorenstam, when playing, wore Cutter and Buck clothing. Her tops ranged from mock turtles to V-neck T-shirts, both of which are acceptable for women. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are among the more notable pros who adopted mock necks into their apparel wear, but neither would be allowed to wear a V-neck shirt.
The Long and Short of It
Shorts are always a cause of contention when it comes to women. It is imperative that you check the dress code of the club where you are playing before stepping out of the house or making any purchases.
Country clubs may have specific dress codes that state the inseam length of shorts, indicate the necessity of a collared shirt, ban skirts or skorts, require belts, ban flip-flops, the list can go on. The parameters will depend on the age of the club and how traditional it is. To be on the safe side, always wear shorts whose inseam is at least 5 inches long; some clubs may require 6 or 8 inches at a minimum. You most certainly want shorts that do not show too much skin and are roomy. Stay away from any shorts or tops that are tight-fitting or binding. Capris are always a good choice, since they won't be as hot as full-length pants, but you'll never have to worry that they're too short. Bermudas work as well but may not be the most flattering look, depending on body shape.
When it comes to colors and patterns, anything really goes. Solids are always a good bet, but madras, checks and plaids are also popular. In golf, the style of dress must fit a particular code, but the colors and patterns need not. A club will be much more concerned about "daisy dukes" than about loud colors or patterns. Short shorts are likely to get you escorted off the property or forced to purchase proper attire at the overpriced pro shop.
A Fitting Top
Tops for women run the gamut. As mentioned before, women have virtual carte blanche to select a top as long as it's not form-fitting and covers the midriff. Women usually will wear a collared shirt, but it can have buttons or a V-neck, sleeves or no sleeves. Women can also wear nice T-shirts (not Fruit of the Loom). Many golf apparel companies have begun to make their women's apparel more stylish, so they'll use higher-quality material and make shirts with a cleaner cut, either with a crew neck or a V-neck.
The length of women's shirts varies with each manufacturer. The trend has been moving toward shirts that hit at the hip line and therefore are not tucked in. Some lines, such as Polo Golf, make shirts that are longer and are meant to be tucked in; they are long enough that the movement of the golf swing during play does not cause them to come untucked. Once again, always check the dress code of the club you're playing.
If you're the average woman who wants to buy items that you can wear somewhere other than the golf course, or want to find something you already own that you can wear on the course, keep one word in mind: conservative. Checking out an LPGA televised event or picking up a golf publication can also help you see what is appropriate and current. If you're still unsure, bring a few different options so that when you arrive, if you see the other women there have dressed differently, you can choose something appropriate.
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