Golf Attire Etiquette

By David W. Berner
Golf clothing is important from a comfort standpoint, and many courses have strict rules about attire.
Golf clothing is important from a comfort standpoint, and many courses have strict rules about attire.

The clothing in golf is a part of the decorum of the game, perhaps more so than any other sport. Not only is there an unspoken etiquette, but most golf courses have a dress code that requires particular attire in order to play. These dress codes are not as restrictive as the rules for PGA Tour or LPGA Tour players, but they are designed to ensure that amateur players adhere to a certain protocol to help maintain the game's traditions. It is always a good idea to check with course management about the club's dress code.

Shirts

In nearly all cases, golf courses require that men wear collared shirts. This usually means traditional cotton, microfiber or polyester golf shirts. Some course managers also allow modern-style golf shirts that have a turtleneck-style collar. Women's golf tops vary greatly, with or without collars, but all adhere to a traditional sense of modesty. This means no bathing suit tops or tube tops. T-shirts or tank tops usually are not permitted for men or women.

Pants

Men should wear long pants made of cotton or a polyester blend, or dress shorts with a pleated or flat front. Some courses will permit men to wear jeans, but others do not. Women also should wear long trousers, capris or dress shorts, or what are called golf skirts. These garments are made with a cut pleat or V-notch on the front or side to allow for motion in the golf swing and include an undershort. Cut-off jeans and workout, running or basketball shorts usually are not permitted for men or women.

Shoes

Footwear is considered part of the game's equipment. Golf shoes will help stabilize a player's swing, allow for traction when walking and provide comfort during a round that can last several hours. These shoes include spikes on the soles. Many courses now require "soft" spikes made of hard rubber or plastic, not traditional metal. Furthermore, other types of shoes that may appear to offer the same comfort and stability are not necessarily permitted. Sneakers or running shoes are sometimes allowed on golf courses, but not always. Sandals, street shoes and boots are not permitted on most courses.

Socks

Socks are as necessary with golf shoes as they are with any sports footwear. Over the years, socks have become an important part of golf attire, mainly because advances in fibers help to keep a golfer comfortable and his feet dry. Golf socks come in a variety of styles. Many golfers who wear shorts choose ankle-length socks that are barely visible above the shoes. But more traditional tube socks also are permitted. Although a course dress code is not likely to specify what kind of socks a player is permitted to wear, there is unspoken etiquette that requires a player to wear socks that complement the clothing.

Hats

Golf hats usually are not specified in a dress code, but certain headgear is more appropriate. Baseball-style hats or visors, for men and women, are the most popular on a golf course. Their primary function is to help provide protection from the sun. Straw hats of many varieties and what are known as Ben Hogan caps also are permitted. But headgear such as cowboy hats, dress fedora-style hats, beanie caps and gag hats are generally not appropriate for a golf course.

About the Author

David W. Berner is an award-winning journalist, writer and broadcaster. HIs memoir, "Accidental Lessons," was released in February 2009. His audio documentary, "Pebble Beach Stories," celebrates the ties between golfers and famed California golf links. Berner has covered stories as diverse as the 2008 presidential election to coyote sightings in Chicago's Lincoln Park.

Photo Credits

  • Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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