Do I Have To Wear A Collared Shirt For Golf?

Is it a requirement to have a collar on your shirt when you head out to play golf?

Do I Have To Wear A Collared Shirt For Golf?
This picture would suggest the answer is no!
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the main, golf’s dress code is a thing of the past. Very few clubs and courses still require a defined outfit to be worn on the fairways. Many clubs might request players dress appropriately for golf but they’re far less likely to turn people away for wearing a pair of trousers that have a rivet on the pocket.

With many modern professionals sporting, and golf apparel manufacturers producing collarless golf shirts, only a very few clubs will still require you to wear a collared shirt for golf.

Fashion evolves and expectations change. Clothing once viewed as scruffy becomes smart by comparison to the norms as time passes. Alternatively, clothing once viewed as representing the height of smartness can come to be seen as faintly ridiculous.

In the early days of golf, players sported long coats and britches, maybe even a wee ruff if paintings like the 18th century one of the MacDonald boys playing golf by Jeremiah Davison are anything to go by.

James Braid

James Braid in his tweeds

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We moved onto tweed suits, stiff shirts and ties towards the end of the 19th century (as above) but by the 1920s, icons of golfing style like Walter Hagen had begun to sport more lightweight clothing, plus fours, a lighter shirt and a bow tie.

After the Second World War, players began to dress more casually for golf. The likes of Sam Snead and Ben Hogan wore softer collared shirts and lightweight cotton slacks.

Through the 20th century, most golf clubs remained fairly prescriptive on expected attire for both on the golf course and in the clubhouse. For men, they demanded tailored trousers, collared shirts, golf shoes on the course, proper street shoes in the clubhouse (no sneakers and no caps inside).

Recently though, golf fashion has become significantly sportier. The old-school 1980s player look was voluminous, pleated slacks, tent-like polo shirt (with collar,) brogue-patterned, patent golf shoes and an oversized visor. Now performance fabrics are to the fore, fitted polos and trousers, trainer-style golf shoes, hoodies even! And, of course, we have seen more collarless golf shirts, with the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy being early fans of the trend - If they work for them, then it's difficult for any golf facility to argue they shouldn't be allowed.

Jimmy Demaret

Jimmy Demaret

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Interestingly, the collarless golf shirt is not actually something invented in the last 15 years. Players were wearing mock turtle neck shirts back in the mid 20th century. Masters champions like Jimmy Demaret (above,) Billy Casper and Gary Player were all sporting collarless shirts in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Do you have to wear a collared shirt for golf then? No… Not unless a club has a very old-fashioned dress code still in place... If they do, it might be time they re-think it.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?