Whilst participation numbers are not dwindling too much, golf's dress code must be putting off new players taking up the game

Is It Time To Relax Golf’s Dress Code?

Whilst golf isn’t in dire straights if you look at participation numbers (the number of rounds played in the UK went up by 4% in the second quarter of 2017) and tournament attendance figures, the game and some clubs are clearly struggling.

Laleham Golf Club in Surrey closed its doors in March and Southwood Golf Course looks to be on its way out, and they’re just two examples nearby the Golf Monthly office in Farnborough.

Would a more relaxed dress code help these golf clubs out that need a boost? Perhaps it would.

We need to keep the younger generations coming through as well as encourage new players of all different ages and genders.

Some are surely put off by golf’s attitude to tell you what you can and can’t wear.

Relax Golf's Dress Code

Rory McIlroy’s new Nike shoes could pass as running or tennis trainers.
(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

I personally love golf’s dress code. From everything to the shoes we wear to the trousers, polos and jumpers.

But that’s just my view, a passionate golfer of many years. Who am I to judge a complete beginner or casual player for what they’re wearing?

Would it bother me if a group of players were, say, wearing trainers? A hoody? God forbid a pair of jeans? Not in the slightest.

Jeans can look smarter than some old pair of golf trousers anyway…who is benefitting from turning golfers away for wearing jeans? Nobody.

And why couldn’t someone wearing a football shirt be allowed to play a round of golf?

Football shirts have been seen on Tour

All four of the above football shirts actually look rather smart don’t you think?

Fashion is always moving in golf, with the latest trends like Rickie Fowler’s hi-top shoes and jogging bottoms, I feel a more relaxed approach could do the game some real good.

Relax Golf's Dress Code

Tiger Woods seen in a collarless shirt

The standard rule is no collarless shirts on the course, but what about Rory McIlroy and a whole host of other Nike players who have been striding down the fairways of some of golf’s most exclusive clubs in recent times wearing a collarless shirt?

Would the average player be allowed on at a, say, Riviera or Wentworth without a collar?

Maybe it’s time to do away with the collar-only rule.

relax golf's dress code

More courses should follow Lindfield’s route…

McIlroy, following on from Tiger, has made the collarless shirt fashionable again on Tour, and golf clubs are letting players on the course wearing these nowadays. They are sold in golf shops after all.

But then what happens if you turn up to a course wearing something similar, but without the Nike tick?

Tommy Fleetwood wins HNA Open de France Relax Golf's Dress Code

Tommy Fleetwood wins HNA Open de France

Now obviously a more relaxed dress code isn’t going to work at some places, like members-only private clubs, that have a more traditional view on the subject.

But I feel those courses looking to bring in members of the paying public really shouldn’t be putting them off by telling them what they can and can’t wear.

Perhaps even members clubs could designate a Friday evening to allow golfers to wear whatever they like. They might find that green fee numbers significantly increase as well as takings behind the bar.

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Golf is a sport after all and in a time where gyms are overcrowded, could we see players allowed to wear leggings and gym wear? Gym wear is designed to look sporty after all.

Another bugbear is the footwear. An old crusty pair of golf shoes will be welcomed anywhere, but an elegant pair of running shoes or trainers would be turned away, despite them doing no damage to the golf course.

This is at a time where Rickie Fowler is wearing hi-tops and brands are bringing out golf shoes that look like trainers.

golf dress code Relax Golf's Dress Code

Rickie Fowler’s jogging bottoms and hi-top combo. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Yes, they may not offer the required grip and therefore would be no good in the rain, but in dry conditions there is nothing wrong with a player wearing trainers, in my opinion.

Another thing that a dress code does is force new players to the game to go out and buy golf-specific clothes.

relax golf's dress code

Rory McIlroy has also sported jogging bottoms on the course. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Now that’s fine for keen golfers like us, who enjoy spending the money on and wearing golf apparel, but for beginners it’s a different story, they may not be prepared to shell out on new golf-only clothes.

A green fee of £30 is enough already without them having to spend £100+ on shoes, trousers and a polo in the pro shop or down the local American Golf store.

Do you think golf’s dress code needs loosening? Or is it fine as it is? Let us know your thoughts on golf’s dress code on the Golf Monthly Facebook and Twitter pages.

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