The clothing in golf is part of the decorum of the game, perhaps more so than any other sport. Not only is there an unspoken etiquette, but most golf courses have a dress code that requires particular attire in order to play. These dress codes are not as restrictive as the rules for PGA Tour or LPGA Tour players, but they are designed to ensure that amateur players adhere to a certain protocol in order to help maintain the game’s traditions. It is always a good idea to check with course management about the club’s dress code.
In nearly all cases, golf courses require that men wear collared shirts. This usually means traditional cotton, microfiber or polyester golf shirts. Some course managers also allow golf shirts with a turtleneck-style collar. Women’s golf tops vary greatly, with or without collars, but all adhere to a traditional sense of modesty. This means no bathing suit tops or tube tops. T-shirts and tank tops are usually not permitted for either men or women.
Shorts that extend to the knee area with a pleated or flat front are usually acceptable, especially in warm months and in warmer states. Cotton is a popular material for golf shorts, with khaki shorts a common choice. Similar material is common for golf pants, but not required. Many golfers wear pants made of water-resistant material. Pants normally don’t have cuffs, which can collect dirt and grass. Jeans or jean shorts are usually prohibited. Women are permitted to wear long trousers, capris, dress shorts, and golf skirts/skorts. Cut-off jeans and workout, running or basketball shorts are usually not permitted for either men or women.
Footwear is considered part of the game’s equipment. Golf shoes help stabilize a player’s swing, allow for traction when walking, and provide comfort during a round that can last several hours. Most of these shoes include spikes on the soles. Many courses now require “soft” spikes made of hard rubber or plastic, not traditional metal. Furthermore, other types of shoes that may appear to offer the same comfort and stability are not necessarily permitted. Sneakers and running shoes are sometimes allowed on golf courses, but not always. Sandals, street shoes and boots are not permitted on most courses.
Socks are as necessary with golf shoes as they are with any sports footwear. Over the years, socks have become an important part of golf attire, mainly because advances in fibers have helped keep golfers’ feet comfortable and dry. Golf socks come in a variety of styles. Many golfers who wear shorts choose ankle-length socks that are barely visible above the shoes. But more traditional tube socks are also permitted. Although a course dress code is not likely to specify what kind of socks a player is permitted to wear, there is unspoken etiquette that requires a player to wear socks that complement their clothing.
Golf hats are usually not specified in a dress code, but certain headwear is more appropriate than others. Baseball-style hats or visors, for men and women, are the most popular on a golf course. Their primary function is to help provide protection from the sun. Straw hats of many varieties and what are known as Ben Hogan caps are also permitted. But headwear such as cowboy hats, dress fedora-style hats, and gag hats are generally not appropriate for a golf course.
When playing in cooler weather, wearing a vest, sweater or golf jacket is acceptable. These clothing items are often lightweight but will protect you from rain and cold weather.