Some golf clubs have very strict rules, some do not care what you wear. Roderick Easdale dons a jazzy pair of trews and tiptoes through this particular minefield

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What Is The Golf Dress Code?

This is a question to which there can be no definitive answer as it depends upon the golf club concerned. Some have very strict rules, some an exceedingly laissez-faire attitude.

I was playing at a famous club when a marshal drove up to me. I was by the cart path, my playing partner was across the other side of the course, so I was the accessible one of our two-ball.

‘Can I have a word about dress regulations, sir?’ I was braced for that – my friend was wearing shorts with short socks, a definitive no-no at some places.

I was all ready to apologise for my colleague, when the marshal continued: “Please could you tuck your shirt in sir. Oh, and I’d drop another ball if I were you sir, you’ll never find it in that undergrowth.”

Shorts on the golf course are a tricky subject.

golf dress code

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

Well not so much the shorts themselves – most clubs require that they are tailored and long – so release your inner Victorian explorer striding through the jungle with your pith helmet on, not your inner tennis player or an eighties footballer – but in the matter of the accompanying socks.

Some clubs require long socks, so that the only bare bit of flesh left is a knee cap; others allow any type of socks; some only allow short socks when they are white.

I have always found it easier just not to play golf in shorts.

Continues below

Trousers- well a variation on the chino is most acceptable. Denim is a no-no. Cargo trousers with bulky outside pockets are also often proscribed.

Shoes can be an issue. Trainers used to be out, as it has to be golf shoes at most courses.

Jason Day

Jason Day’s Nike hi-top shoes at the 2017 Open Championship

They still are, but the good news for those without golf shoes is that the modern golf shoe often looks so like a pair of trainers it is hard often to work out what people are wearing.

Spikes are another matter – many courses required plastic cleats these days rather than metal spikes as these do not leave spike marks on the green.

Remember when Tiger Woods, among others, used to play in tour events in a roll-neck shirt?

If you don’t, here is a picture to remind you.

golf dress code

Tiger Woods won the 2005 Masters wearing a collarless shirt.

Well what Tiger wears sells, so you could buy these shirts in pro shops, marketed as golf shirts.

Nike have now brought these collarless shirts back and are becoming popular on Tour – are you allowed to play golf in a shirt without a collar? I guess so.

golf dress code

McIlroy’s collarless shirt during the 2017 Open Championship final round. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

The only trouble was that some golf clubs wouldn’t actually let you wear them out on the course.

Rather brilliantly, pro shops at some of those courses which would not allow these shirts were some of those which stocked them.

If in doubt go for a polo shirt and chinos or slacks – that will get you on any course anywhere.

Oh except those places which require all golfers to wear a red top…

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  • Yeti owner

    I was approached at one golf course where I had been in the spike bar having a pre-round drink and a guy asked if I really was intending to wear “those shoes” on the course. I snapped back at thim then looked down at my best office shoes and realised I had forgotten to change them!

    After a quick apology (met by much laughter) I dashed to the changing room and barely made it to the tee box in time.

  • Max Fisher

    And people wonder why golf is in decline! One day, after a generation of old “things” have left this mortal world, sense will prevail and clubs will rewrite their rule books.

  • You’ve summed up the absurdity and minefield of dress codes nicely there.
    Pays to check for idiosyncratic rules before visiting a new club, I once came across one that forbade the wearing of exposed braces on waterproof trousers! The committee meeting that determined that rule must have been a rivetting affair.