Joel Tadman on why the very existence of the Hoodie debate is a sign of golf’s bigger issues

Why Golf Has Bigger Problems Than Hoodies

I watched in awe as Tyrrell Hatton dismantled Wentworth’s West course at the BMW PGA with a clinic of dishearteningly long and accurate driving, precision iron play and a red hot putter.

Yes, I also noticed he was wearing a hoodie on all four days (although I more interested in the new Ping woods he was using) but at no point did I feel the urge to send a strongly worded tweet or draft a letter of complaint to the European Tour.

The uproar on social media that followed seemed both disproportionate to the ‘crime’ and purely highlighted the problems with exclusivity and elitism that still exist in our game that discourages newcomers to take up our sport.

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It was by no means a horrible-looking hoodie, in fact I think the design of the Cold.RDY hoodie is very smart in its execution. It looked like a golf top suitable for wear on a golf course, rather than one you might see on a group of youths down the local park.

It’s likely these negative connotations that caused one club to ban hoodies altogether following the event, but is the thought of playing golf in a hoodie more damaging to the image of our game than a group of 80-somethings playing in trousers tucked into long socks and then changing into a jacket and tie afterwards? The latter is hardly inspiring the next generation of golfers – the future of the sport.

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Clothing brands are always trying to set or at least be level with current trends and even be disruptive to get noticed. While I think there needs to be a line in the sand somewhere, Adidas didn’t come close to crossing it this time.

It borderline overstepped said line back in February when its players, including Jon Rahm, teed it up at Riviera wearing a collarless X-Palace skating-inspired shirt with fluorescent yellow trim.

You wouldn’t see me on the course (or anywhere) wearing this, simply because I don’t think it’s too much to ask to wear a collared shirt and trousers other than jeans to play golf. They’re no more expensive and it’s nice to wear some sort of uniform to play sport as it provides a sense of identity and purpose.

Golf has long been hamstrung by its stuffy, outdated clothing rules and archaic image. It felt like with the ongoing pandemic, golf provided a welcoming escapism for people looking to exercise in the outdoors while boosting the outlook for those that work in the industry, although the baffling decision to close courses in Ireland and Wales has set this back somewhat.

The fact we’re even talking about if someone should or shouldn’t wear a hoodie to play golf, regardless of what level, is a sign that a more relaxed approach needs to be adopted to knock down barriers of entry into our game and embrace appropriate fashion trends – a smart hooded jumper being a classic example that shouldn’t offend anyone.