No sport has as many rules of etiquette as golf. It’s a proper sport that has only become mainstream for the masses over the last few decades. Once reserved for members of the upper crust of society, it’s now a sport that everyone can enjoy. The question is, how do you dress for a round on the links?
Golf: The Convergence of Sport and Fashion
Golf has always been a sport of status. While the competition and skill level has always been high, it’s a sport where just as much emphasis is placed on conversation and etiquette. It’s a place where million-dollar business deals get their start and lifelong friendships are cultivated. The dress code – or the fashion, if you will – reflects this.
Over the years, the golf dress code has relaxed a bit. In the early 20th century, you’d find golfers wearing single-breasted jackets with waistcoats and knickers. Today, golf fashion isn’t nearly as sophisticated. However, it remains an important part of the game.
Every golf club has its own distinct rules and interpretations of what should be worn. For example, you’ll find clubs that require golfers to wear socks covering their ankles. You can also find courses that require golfers to wear socks that don’t cover their ankles.
“Neither rule has a basis in objective reality, but even arbitrary standards have a function,” LINKS Magazine explains. “When you put on a collared shirt before teeing it up, you are implicitly endorsing golf’s fundamental association with civilized behavior—in effect, you are acknowledging your responsibility to replace divots, rake bunkers, and call penalties on yourself.”
Golf fashion has evolved a lot in recent years. Formal jackets and slacks have been replaced with lightweight quarter-zips and moisture-wicking shorts. The game is more modern and accessible, but looking good still matters.
So while golf fashion has changed and relaxed over the years, much of the underlying purpose remains in place. The goal is to create a respectful environment that’s centered on character, honesty, and community. What you wear is a reflection of how much you respect the ideals of the game.
3 Golf Fashion Tips and Rules to Consider
As you consider dressing for the links, here are some tips, rules, and etiquette to help you along:
Follow the Course Rules
There are general rules of golf – like wear a shirt with a collar – but dress code isn’t set in stone. The rules of the course you’re playing supersede everything else. If the course says you have to wear socks covering your ankles, wear socks covering your ankles. This isn’t a time to fight the establishment or buck rules. Show your respect for the game by adhering to the standards of the course you’re playing.
Looking good is important, but so is feeling good. Thankfully, most of today’s leading golf apparel companies produce items that are comfortable. In the heat of late spring and summer, moisture-wicking material is a must. In the winter, you’ll want to layer up with items that have some stretch and give (to account for your swing motion).
Don’t be Loud
“Expressing yourself through style is to be applauded but embracing loud colors to get a reaction is not the way to go,” style director Eric Down says. “Keep it simple. Classic combos of white with black, grey or navy will always look sleek. If you want to introduce color then keep it to two at most. You need to be able to see the flag; it does not need to see you on the tee box.”
Just be yourself. The golf course is a perfect place to show off your style. It should not, however, be a place where you experiment with crazy fashion ideas. Golf isn’t meant to be a flashy sport – it’s about gamesmanship and camaraderie. The average golfer won’t appreciate your attempts to be bigger than the game.
Look Good, Play Good
Former NFL and MLB star Deion Sanders once said, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”
While you’d have to understand Sanders’ brash cockiness and sense of humor to truly get the gist of this statement, it’s not far from the truth. Golf is a sport built on confidence. Looking good is a key component of feeling good on the course. Feel free to express your own fashion style, but respect the game, respect the courses you play, and learn to love the comprehensive experience.