Like it or not, golf is a traditional sport, and in order to be taken at all seriously on the golf course, you have to look and act the part of a real golfer. Golf etiquette – how you behave on a golf course – is one part of that, as is the way golfers dress. And although there are many golf courses that don’t strictly enforce a dress code, it’s important to know the appropriate golf attire if you want to be a respectful and respected golfer.
Here, from head to toe, are the essential components of an appropriately dressed golfer:
You don’t have to wear a hat, but if the sun is out, you’ll be glad you did. Most golfers wear baseball caps with golf brands when they play. Some golfers, like the Australian legend Greg Norman, prefer to wear straw hats. Many others wear visors. The key here is to get a hat with a bill to block the sun from your face and eyes.
Again, if you plan on playing in the sun, a good pair of sunglasses that fits snuggly on your face—even when you turn your head quickly—will do your vision on the course some good.
The unofficially official shirt for golf is the polo shirt. Find polo shirts that are made of a breathable material, like cotton. The big thing here is that golfers are expected to wear collared shirts, and polo shirts are perfect because although they are collared, they aren’t too formal. They also allow you to swing comfortably.
Hot Tip: Tuck In Your Shirt
Tucking in your shirt doesn’t only help you look more like a professional golfer, it actually helps you swing better too. Loose, un-tucked shirts can get caught up on your club during your swing, causing some unnecessary roadblocks to a good swing.
Depending on the weather, you may want to wear an extra layer out onto the course. It’s always a good idea to keep a sweater or a windbreaker in your golf bag, just in case the weather turns on you. Sweaters and windbreakers are good options because although they’ll definitely keep you warm, they’re not as bulky as jackets, so they interfere less with your golf swing.
If you’re playing at a private golf course with a dress code, chances are you’ll need to wear slacks or a similar pair of nice pants. Even in the summer, some clubs won’t let men or women wear shorts or skirts on the course. But if it is warm, and your course allows it, there’s nothing wrong with a pair of khaki shorts for men or women, or an appropriate length skirt for women.
Golf shoes are one of the most important aspects of your golf wardrobe, because not only are they a required part of the “look” of a golfer, they’re essential for a golfer’s performance.
Golf shoes come with one of two types of cleats: metal spikes or soft (plastic) spikes. Most new golf shoes are being made with soft spikes, which are less harmful to putting greens and other vulnerable areas on the golf course. And on top of the type of cleats underneath the shoes, you have thousands and thousands of options for style, color, gender, age, size, etc.
The main purpose of golf shoes is to keep you balanced and anchored during your golf swing. If you’ve ever played a round of golf in tennis shoes, you’ll be able to notice just how much help a pair of good golf shoes can give your game.
Clothing to Avoid
There are also certain pieces of clothing that, despite their comfort and convenience, should be avoided at all costs on a golf course:
Unfortunately (or not), the fabric that makes up most of the average person’s wardrobe is inappropriate for golf. It’s too stiff and rough for a smooth golf swing. Above all, it’s just too casual.
This goes for sweatshirts, tracksuits, basketball shorts, jerseys, sweatpants and all other forms of ultra-casual exercise apparel. Most of it is too loose for a comfortable golf swing, but again, none of it is suited for a respectable golf environment.
Believe it or not, there are people who show up to a golf course in nothing but tank tops and pajama bottoms. Even professional golfer John Daly has been known to play rounds of golf without a shirt on at all, his belly hanging out. And although that sounds like it could be fun, there’s no easier way to get service refused at a golf course than showing up like you just rolled out of bed, so avoid this oh-so-tempting option.
Some golf courses don’t require you to wear spikes on your feet, but a lot of places will refuse service to someone wearing sandals. You’re going to want to invest in a pair of golf shoes eventually for the added stability they provide, but if you can’t find or afford a pair at the moment, at least wear a pair of athletic shoes.
Watch & Learn
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to learn what makes an appropriate golf wardrobe is to watch professional golfers play on TV. Male and female professionals always look their best on a golf course, and if you want to eventually play like them, dressing like them is a good start.