Dress Codes...do they promote golf as a modern sport?



Can we finally say goodbye to dress codes? Whoever designed this graphic should have made a fortune out of it. It’s the first image that comes up when you search for ‘golf dress codes’ and it’s found its way into plenty of clubhouses – and it’s one of the most debilitating for the game in the message that it gives off.

If looked at in a certain way then golf has enough problems to keep people’s interest; it’s ridiculously hard, it takes so long, it’s not cheap and it’s fairly dependent on the weather.

If looked at in a different way then golf takes you to some incredible places, meet some amazing people, you’re outdoors, it’s good for your mental health, there might not be a more social sport, the equipment is set up to make things a lot easier and there will be the very odd day when it can actually feel quite easy.

So why do we let what any of us choose to wear get in the way of all this? If we were to go to the pub or a restaurant and someone passed comment on what we were wearing then we’d quite rightly be quite offended. Or, hopefully, just laugh to ourselves.

Of course there are golf clubs and restaurants and other establishments where they expect you to dress a certain way – some restaurants would like us to wear a jacket and tie and some of the great courses would like us to stick to this image of ‘tailored shorts’ and knee-length socks and that’s up to them. It comes from a bygone age but that’s the choice they make and often, when it comes to golf, it’s worth the bother.

But it doesn’t say much for their trust in us. We’re told not to wear jeans but who on earth, and in what weather, would want to wear jeans to play golf? They’re awful in the wet or under sweaty waterproofs and they’re similarly pointless in hot weather.

Some of us are influenced by what the tour pros look like, some of us want to look different, some of us want to fit in and some of us don’t want to look like we’re even playing golf – all of which is fine. We’ve paid our money and so we’ll take our choice.

A couple of months ago we had Tyrrell Hatton go round a mammoth Wentworth course in October in 19 under par. Given the time of year and conditions it was one of the greatest collection of rounds we’ve seen at the West Course and yet the big takeaway was that he chose to wear a hoodie.

Hoodies have been part of the Bunker Mentality line-up for years, the look both smart and stylish and they’re perfect for playing or relaxing in. The sport has gone into meltdown when players started to wear collar-less shirts and, latterly, jogger-style trousers.

What does this say to a youngster thinking about taking up the game when people want to talk about this type of thing?

Paul Lawrie has done more for junior golf in Scotland than maybe anyone and he will always ask any youngsters who have dropped out of the system what put them off and the reply is that they want to wear their normal clothes to play golf.

Robert Rock runs a very successful junior tour and he couldn’t care less about dress codes.

“I don’t care. Nobody has turned up in jeans but that would be fine, they wear golf shoes or trainers and they look the same these days so that makes no difference and I don’t care if they play in a polo shirt or a T-shirt. Sometimes they come in smartish looking tracksuit bottoms and that’s great. No clubs have said anything about how they’ve been dressed.”

Anyone who has grown up in a junior section has been on the wrong end of a telling off by an older member and, while we might have tried to laugh it off to our mates, it’s a horrible, belittling feeling.

None of us really like being told what to do; our mobile phones are generally attached to us these days so to be told that we can’t use them in the clubhouse in nonsense. On the one hand golf club managers would like to see a lot of us using their facilities as some sort of remote workplace, and spending money over the bar for food and drinks in quieter times, while on the other we’re meant to have our phones on silent and not in use.

If 2020 has taught us anything in this regard it should be that none of this matters and that the image above can finally be laid to rest.

Enjoy the Game!