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Golf has exploded in popularity over the last few years, with more than 25 million participants in the United States alone. Lots of beginners are gearing up to play their first 18 holes, but many of them won’t wear the right golf apparel. This guide will take you through the essential golf apparel you need to wear on your first day on the course.
Golf Course Dress Codes
Unlike most other sports, golf doesn’t have uniforms. Players can wear outfits that meet their personal preferences, as long as the golf apparel meets the course’s dress code. Almost every golf course in the world enforces a strict dress code to ensure that players dress appropriately and maintain a high standard for decorum.
Golf is traditionally an exclusive sport with middle to upper class participants. Although the sport has become more accessible to low-income individuals and people with disabilities, most courses still expect players to wear semi-formal golf apparel.
Here are some common dress code rules for players of both sexes:
- No foul language or suggestive imagery on any article of clothing
- No t-shirts, sports jerseys or tracksuit tops
- No sleeveless shirts
- No jeans or track pants
- No gym shorts or drawstring shorts
- No shorts less than three-quarter length
- No open-toed shoes
- No cleats with metal spikes
- No backwards hats
- No hats allowed in the clubhouse or bar
- No cleats allowed in the clubhouse or bar
If you break one of these rules, most courses will give you an opportunity to correct your mistake. However, a second chance is the most you can expect. If you become a repeat offender, the course will not hesitate to remove you from the premises and institute a lifetime ban. Like we said, golf courses take their dress codes seriously.
Unwritten Golf Apparel Rules
Along with the golf course’s dress code, there are some unwritten rules about what you can and can’t wear. Every sport has a set of unwritten rules that athletes must implicitly adhere to. You might not technically be violating the dress code, but everyone on the course will look at you with great disdain. Golfers don’t mess around when it comes to proper course etiquette.
Here are some unwritten rules concerning golf apparel that you should know:
- Don’t wear any flashy jewelry.
- Don’t wear white pants unless you’re a low handicap player.
- Don’t wear any eccentric hats (cowboy hats, sombreros, etc.). Baseball hats, visors and bucket hats are acceptable.
- Don’t wear bright colors or odd patterns that might distract the other players.
- Don’t wear high-rise socks if you decide to wear shorts. Calf or ankle socks are acceptable.
- Always bring rain gear, regardless of the weather forecast.
Overall, the important thing is that you dress for the occasion. Golfing on a random Tuesday afternoon and golfing in a Sunday tournament are two totally different things. Similarly, playing on a public course in the suburbs is different from playing at a private country club in an affluent neighborhood.
You must be fully aware of your playing environment. Read the situation and dress accordingly. Bring a change of clothes if you’re not sure what to wear.
What Golf Apparel Do I Need?
Now that we’ve laid some ground rules, you can put together the ideal golf outfit for your first official round. Let’s go through each article of golf apparel to ensure you have a successful and incident-free day at the golf course.
Hats aren’t required, but most golfers wear them to block out sun glare and improve their vision. Baseball caps, visors and bucket hats are the only real options. Get something with a long brim that will sufficiently shade your face. You might develop some noticeable tan lines from wearing the hat all day, but it will improve your performance in most cases.
Certain athletic shirts are acceptable on most golf courses, but you’re better off sticking with a collared shirt. A nice polo is a safe golfing shirt for just about every occasion. Just make sure it fits well. If your shirt is too loose or too tight, it will throw off your swing and negatively impact your performance.
For cold weather, sweaters and quarter-zip jackets are the most popular options. Hoodies and ski coats are in poor taste. The only time it’s acceptable to wear something with a hood is if you’re playing in the rain or snow. If there’s no precipitation, then it’s best to avoid hooded jackets.
Pants are better than shorts for most golf outings. In fact, the Professional Golf Association (PGA) has a strict no-shorts policy that many players have criticized. Pants look more professional and give the sport more uniformity. However, most golf courses have no problem with players wearing shorts in warm weather.
Just remember — the shorts must be three-quarters length or longer for both men and women. The course won’t tolerate any high risers, and neither will your playing partners. Golf is supposed to be a game of modesty and decency.
You can wear pretty much any ankle or calf socks you want, as long as they don’t have any offensive designs or language. Look for socks with good moisture-wicking qualities. A full round of golf takes about four hours, so your feet are going to get sweaty. You might also have to hit near a water hazard, so it’s always a good idea to bring extra pairs of socks.
Golf shoes are the trickiest parts of golf apparel. You could wear a regular pair of athletic sneakers, but they won’t give you much traction on the tee boxes, fairways, bunkers and greens. It’s best to wear proper golf shoes with small spikes. Golf shoes also look classier and will fit better with the rest of your outfit.
If you’re playing in inclement weather, you might want to wear cleats with rubber or plastic spikes. Remember — no metal spikes are allowed. The maintenance crew and your playing partners will hate you for tearing up the course.
Finally, you should invest in a good pair of golf gloves. Gloves aren’t required, but a vast majority of players wear them for more consistent club grip during their swings. It’s also common to wear one glove on your dominant hand. If there’s one article of clothing that allows you to show a little individuality, it’s the gloves. Beginner players should take full advantage.
Look Sharp For Your First Round of Golf
One of the biggest reasons for golf’s rise in popularity is the sport’s overall aesthetic, which includes fashion. Your golf apparel should be a mixture of classy and functional — formal enough for Sunday brunch, but practical enough to spend a full day outside. Follow this golf apparel guide to look sharp for your first round of golf!
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.