Golf Monthly Editor’s Letter June 2013 Issue
If I can’t sleep at night my usual trick is to play a round of golf in my head. Almost always I will opt to tee it up a Royal North Devon where I’m lucky enough to be a country member, and given one final round, it would be the course I would probably opt to play.
When it comes to the bit where I’m deciding what line to take over the cavernous Cape Bunker on the 4th, I’m normally in the land of nod. However, for the last few nights not even a full 18 holes and a couple of post-round pints of Tribute have been enough to get me off.
Two things have been nagging at my mind and causing this insomnia, and ironically both are golf related. The first is the ever-decreasing standard of my short game (too upsetting to discuss here) and the second is the thorny issue of dress codes – a subject on which we have a special ‘GM asks’ feature in the June issue.
A part of me wants to say it doesn’t really matter what people wear to play golf or have a drink afterwards, so long as they are playing golf and supporting clubs by spending money at the bar. I want to see our sport flourishing; I want to see club bars packed with members and guests; and I desperately want golf to reach out to new people, and show them what a wonderful game it is.
The reality is that participation levels are dwindling, many club bars are empty and it’s getting harder to recruit new golfers. And while I don’t lay the blame for that solely at the door of dress codes, they can seem restrictive, at odds with modern society and therefore liable to create barriers – either to new people wanting to get into golf, or club members popping down for a drink because they are wearing a pair of jeans.
The other part of me says that dress codes provide welcome order to an increasingly haphazard world where everybody seems to do as they wish. We should champion the fact that our game is built around history, tradition, respect for the rules of the game and that dress codes are a key part of that. As such, we shouldn’t have an issue conforming to well-established standards and that the newcomers we want to attract are those who can respect the rules and etiquette of the game, including dress codes.
The truth is – of course – my view lies somewhere in the middle. However, I feel strongly that dress codes need to be reasonable and logical, and I don’t think that’s currently the case at some clubs. There is no off-the-peg solution, and for that reason I feel the topic is worth a point on the agenda at the next committee meeting or AGM of every golf club in the UK and Ireland.
The discussion might last just a couple of minutes, and everyone may agree the current guidelines are in keeping with the club’s traditions and outlook. There might be a minor change to what visiting groups and societies should wear in the dining room, or perhaps a more relaxed, casual code could be introduced on certain nights to encourage a better attendance at social events. Or, in some cases, it might be that a total root and branch change of the club’s on- and off-course dress codes is required to help stimulate new memberships, or revive flagging bar and restaurant takings.
The key is for as many stakeholders to discuss and debate the issue and find a middle ground where traditional and modern views can be expressed and taken into account when the issue of dress codes is in the best interests of the club.
Whatever is decided, I think the most crucial thing is that the dress code policy is clearly communicated to members and visitors alike so there’s no room for misinterpretation that can lead to confusion and embarrassment.
I welcome your views and opinions on the subject, and I look forward to printing a selection in future issues.
The Celebrity Cup at Golf Live 10-12 May
Golf Monthly is delighted to be the official magazine media partner of Golf Live in 2013. This year the event will be held at the fabulous Celtic Manor Resort in Wales from 10-12 May. New for 2013 Golf Live is The Celebrity Cup, which will run over the three days with some well-known sports personalities, plus film and TV stars, taking each other on in a battle of the home nations.
The Celebrity Cup isn’t the only attraction at Golf Live, there are masterclasses from golfing superstars, as well as a chance to see and test new equipment from the major manufacturers. For more information and a chance to win a fantastic competition, go to www.celebritycup.co.uk