Par for the Course: Undressing golf course dress codes

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It might be time to “undress” the subject of golf course dress codes.

Probably the most debatable parts of dress codes concern men’s socks and shorts.

Apparently there still are clubs which insist on golfers wearing white socks only. With socks manufacturers selling black socks and socks of a variety of colors, it seems to be extremely old-fashioned to insist on members wearing white socks on the golf course. Tradition being what it is, this is not asking a lot from members in terms of compliance. But it is a little out of touch with 21st century casual dress fashions ā€” and golf in the 21st century very definitely is a casual and recreational sport.

Shorts also are in this discussion. Firstly, the PGA Tour does not allow players to wear shorts during tournaments. Caddies can wear them, but not the golfers. Hmmm.

Then there are clubs which insist on “tailored” shorts only for players, meaning that cargo shorts are taboo. Show up at a golf club which prohibits cargo shorts and you will be told one of two things: Either buy a pair of tailored shorts from the pro shop, or you can opt to go home. Neither of this options portray the club as being hospitable, but those generally are the choices. Occasionally there will be a club which has “loaner shorts.”

Moving on in the dress codes conversation, there is the requirement to wear collared shirts. Most regular golfers have numerous collared golf shirts. This writer has a closet full of them.

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Enter the Tiger Woods look. He sports some very good looking shirts without collars. That began when he was affiliated with Nike, which could not make it as a club manufacturer, but very definitely made money in the golf attire business. Nike designed some spectacular shirts for Tiger and the PGA Tour conveniently has overlooked its rule about collared shirts.

This is not to mention that a turtleneck shirt may or may not be considered a collared shirt. Turtlenecks are widely accepted at private golf courses which are upholding collared shirt rules. Give Tiger Woods credit for doing something which makes sense.

And on this subject, women are permitted to play in LPGA tournaments without collared shirts. The LPGA, however, tightened up is dress code last year by prohibiting plunging neck lines and racerback tank tops, along with leggings with no skirts. Plus, the short-shorts are viewed with disdain. LPGA dress code violations can cause a $1,000 fine.

There are other dress code subjects in this discussion. For instance, jeans are being allowed at some courses, when that was a no-no for many years. Logos on shirts also are a subject for debate. Too big? On the back of shirts? This is not bowling, the dissenters will argue.

All of this said, it beats the Bobby Jones era of knickers with a dress shirt and tie. So, you could say that golf dress codes have come a very long way.

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The Maine State Golf Association tournament season continues this week with a pair of women’s better ball events Sept. 11 at Poland Spring and Valhalla. There is a Senior Tour event Sept. 13 at Falmouth, and the weekend events Sept. 14-15 at Dutch Elm. The annual tri-state competition between Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine is Sept. 15 in Vermont. There is no U.S. Kids Day this week.

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