Two GM contributors argue for and against dress codes - which side are you on?
Should Golf Clubs Have Dress Codes?
Jeremy Ellwood says YES
Before I get too far into this thorny subject, let me say that if the question had been “should clubs have outdated dress codes” I would have been fighting Fergus for the ‘no’ side.
I wouldn’t go to any club out of choice that still insisted on jacket and tie in the clubhouse all day, for example (and there are still a few!).
But that’s not to say there shouldn’t be some defining line, even if it’s merely that your shirt should either be collared or a purposely designed golf shirt, or any short socks should be ankle socks rather than those tiny invisible ones you see so often these days.
I believe the vast majority of golfers turn up in the very gear that is golf’s typical dress code anyway, whether written or unwritten, and at most clubs it’s hardly an onerous task to comply unless your wardrobe consists only of ripped jeans and vests.
Most clubs make their dress codes abundantly clear on their websites, so if you choose to turn up in something that doesn’t meet those requirements and then plaster messages all over social media about the unfairness of it all, I’m afraid that reflects more badly on you than that club.
You have a choice as to where you play.
And let’s not forget that some dress code requirements are for practical reasons.
If a club politely requests that you change out of the clothes you’ve just played in before entering the bar, that’s partly out of courtesy to others, especially on the sultriest of golfing days or when every garment you’re wearing is soaked through.
In 95% of cases, I really don’t think dress codes are worth getting too hot under the collar about, even if it’s a collar you are obliged to wear.
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Fergus Bisset says NO
One of the main things turning young people off golf is the number of things they feel they can’t do… “can’t use your phone in here,”… “can’t play off those tees,”… “can’t use that locker room,” … and perhaps the most backward-thinking and restrictive of them all… “you can’t wear that”.
The dress code is a throwback to a time of prejudice and intolerance; it’s symbolic of a deep-rooted snobbery and small-mindedness within golf that must be eradicated if the game is to survive.
What are the old-school members who cling determinedly to a dress code afraid of?
Do they suddenly think the course will be invaded by hordes of lads in muscle-tops and girls in high heels?… Of course it won’t.
Apart from a very few exceptions, people dress appropriately for whatever activity they are undertaking.
For golf, they will mainly choose golfing attire and, if they don’t have anything so specific, they will choose comfortable and robust clothing suitable for four hours of outdoor walking.
Who cares if the trousers they select are made of denim? Who cares if the shirt they wear doesn’t have a collar? What difference will it make to anybody else’s enjoyment of their day at the golf club?
Anybody who says it will lessen their own golfing experience needs to have a serious think about how their personal principles are organised.
Dress codes are subjective. What one person views as smart and conforming, another may see as old-fashioned and excluding.
Times and fashions change, and golf must be able to move seamlessly with them. Dress codes are prohibitive to that.
We need our sport to become more about what you can do rather than what you can’t, and removing unnecessary dress codes is a step in the right direction.
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