Why do Golf Clubs have a Dress Code?

Why do golf clubs have a dress code?

There is, in fact, no set or fixed golf dress code, except in professional golf tournaments, e.g.:

‘At all PGA Golf Management tournaments, players shall present themselves with a neat and clean appearance. Shorts or denim are not permitted to be worn by male competitors. Khakis or slacks and collared shirts must be worn by all male players. Female competitors may wear shorts or skirts’.

A golf club’s dress code is whatever the club decides. Some clubs are happy to have none, others can have some highly complicated regulations. However there is some broad consensus among golf clubs which have chosen to have dress codes as to what is and is not acceptable.

If you are in any doubt as to  what to wear, check with the Golf Club beforehand.

Many golf courses require golfers to wear particular clothing because this instils a sense of professionalism and respectability. It’s important for players to look their best, so they maintain the reputation of the club.

If in doubt, wear chinos and a collared shirt. No club is going to object to that. Well not if the shirt is tucked into the trousers anyway, as some clubs have prohibitions on untucked shirts.

What is acceptable on the course and in the clubhouse can be different, too. If you have ever wondered what a spike bar is, this is a bar that players can go into straight off the course without having to change out of your spiked golf shoes.

Why Do Golfers Have A Dress Code?

When you start thinking about playing golf, you’ll come across a lot of new rules.

Not all of them have to do with how you play golf, your swing, choosing a club, playing a stroke, birdies, pars, or eagles. One of the things many of you may feel concerned about is a dress code.

Many municipal golf courses don’t have any rules about the way you should dress. However, when it comes to private golf clubs, you can face a dress code. Each club may have its own dress code, but the basic points are usually the same.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why some golf clubs are strict about maintaining a dress code.

A Respect for Tradition

A dress code is steeped in tradition

The first games of golf as we know them date back to the 15th century. Although there is evidence that golf may have originated much earlier than that; the game has had several centuries to grow and develop and so have the traditions around it.

Golf, initially, was played by royalty and the elite. Each game being a special event at which the nobility didn’t just have fun. They used it as an opportunity to discuss important matters and arriving at a golf course inappropriately dressed was absolutely out of the question.

If you were to arrive at the golf course looking less than impeccable, the consequences could be dire, starting from unpleasant rumours and ending with the dissatisfaction of the king.

That’s why with time, a certain dress code has emerged, and Golf Clubs and players have continued to ensure that they follow it closely.

As time has passed, and although the game of golf has turned into an entertaining event accessible to more and more people, players haven’t really wanted to change tradition.

Comfort and Safety

If you look at old photographs of golfers, it will seem that the comfort of the players was rarely considered, with time however, it has become more and more important. What may at first appear to be a tribute to tradition is, in fact, a sensible way to add comfort and safety to the players.

  • Golf hat or cap – protects the player from the sun while the visor shields the eyes from direct sunlight to help make a good swing.
  • Collared shirt or polo – a collar is an excellent way to protect your neck from the sunshine and avoid sunburn.
  • Special golf shoes – ensure comfort on the course for hours without slipping or damaging the grass.
  • Slacks, pants, trousers, shorts, skirts – provide freedom of movement, protection from the sunrays and undergrowth and proper ventilation.

So, even if a club doesn’t demand it, it makes sense to follow the common dress code. Wearing clothing made specifically for playing golf, can make your game comfortable and increase your chances of achieving better results.  

Following the Dress Code

In the 21st century, following the golf club’s dress code is easier than it may seem. If you wear a collared shirt, trousers, tailored shorts, skirts and golf shoes without metal spikes, you are likely to be accepted at most golf clubs.

Also bear in mind, that besides following the dress code, you must protect your skin from the sun and also dress appropriately in cold or rainy weather. No matter how strict your club is about the dress code, it’s likely to relax its rules when it comes to rain suits or overcoats.

A Final Comment

When you are planning for your next game, consider having a change of clothing with you, especially when there is a threat of inclement weather.

A day at the golf club may entail a dinner or a cup of coffee inside the building. You don’t want to sit at the table sweaty with your clothes dripping wet or stained by grass. That’s why you should have a change of clothing that suits the club’s dress code.

No matter how well you know the dress code, it’s important to call the club in advance or visit the website to check the details. Each golf club, especially well established ones, may have its own dress code nuances, which could become the cause of ruined plans.

Code of Conduct Policy

Code of Conduct Policy, Rules of Golf, Committee Procedures

5H Code of Conduct Policy:

The Committee may set its own standards of player conduct in a Code of Conduct adopted as a Local Rule (see Rule 1.2b). If the Committee does not set a Code of Conduct, it is restricted in penalizing players for inappropriate conduct to using Rule 1.2a. The only penalty available for an act that is contrary to the spirit of the game under that Rule is disqualification (see Section 5H(4) for more information).

(1) Setting a Code of Conduct

In setting a Code of Conduct, the Committee should consider the following:

  • When setting limits or prohibiting a player’s actions through a Code of Conduct, the Committee should consider the different cultures of the players. For example, something that may be considered inappropriate behaviour in one culture may be acceptable under another.
  • The penalty structure that will apply for a breach of the Code (see Section 5H(2) for an example).
  • Who will have the authority to decide penalties and sanctions. For example, it could be the case that only certain Committee members have the authority to apply such penalties or a minimum number of Committee members need to be involved in making such a decision or any member of the Committee has authority to make such a decision.
  • Whether there will be an appeals process.

The Committee may include the following within a Code of Conduct:

  • A prohibition on players entering all or specified no play zones.
  • Specific details of unacceptable behaviour that a player may be penalized for during a round, for example:
    • Failure to care for the course, for example not raking bunkers or not replacing or filling divots.
    • Unacceptable language.
    • Abuse of clubs or the course.
    • Being disrespectful of other players, referees or spectators.
  • A dress code.

The Committee may provide in the Code of Conduct that a warning will be given for the first breach of the Code and not a penalty, unless the Committee considers the breach to be sufficiently serious.

A Committee needs to determine whether the Code of Conduct applies to a player’s caddie, and whether the player can be penalized under the Code for actions of his or her caddie during the round.

It would not be appropriate to penalize a player under a Code of Conduct for a breach of a spectator code by the player’s family or supporters. For example, in a junior competition where family members are not allowed to walk on the fairway, or within a specified distance of the competitors, the player should not be penalized for any breach by a spectator.

(2) Determining Penalties for Breach of Code

When determining the sanctions and penalty structure that will apply, the Committee should consider the following:

  • If there will be a warning system before any penalty or other sanction is imposed.
  • Whether the sanctions will be of a disciplinary nature or involve penalties under the Rules.
  • Whether the penalty for each breach will be set as one penalty stroke, the general penalty, or if penalties will escalate. The Committee should not use any other types of penalties that would apply to a player’s score.
  • If the Code will allow for disqualification for serious misconduct in failing to meet the Code’s standards.
  • Whether a penalty will automatically apply whenever a player breaches one of its standards or if such a penalty will be left to the Committee’s discretion.
  • If different penalties will apply for breaching different aspects of the Code.
  • Disciplinary sanctions that a Committee may impose including refusing to allow the player to enter one or more future competitions run by the Committee or requiring the player to play at a particular time of day. Such sanctions are separate from the Rules of Golf and it is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret any such sanctions.

(3) Sample Penalty Structure for a Code of Conduct

The following model penalty structures give an example of how the Committee may choose to penalize breaches of a Code of Conduct in the Local Rule.

The Committee may decide to implement such a penalty structure without a warning or sanction for a first breach, or it may provide different penalties for each item within the Code of Conduct. For example, certain breaches may result in a one-stroke penalty, with other breaches resulting in the general penalty.

Model Penalty Structure

  • First breach of the Code of Conduct – warning or Committee sanction
  • Second breach – one-stroke penalty
  • Third breach – general penalty
  • Fourth breach or any serious misconduct – disqualification.

(4) Spirit of the Game and Serious Misconduct

Under Rule 1.2a, a Committee may disqualify a player for serious misconduct for acting contrary to the spirit of the game. This applies whether or not there is a Code of Conduct in place for a competition.

When deciding whether a player is guilty of serious misconduct, the Committee should consider whether the player’s action was intentional and whether the act was significant enough to warrant disqualification without first giving a warning and/or applying other penalties when a Code of Conduct is in place.

Examples of actions that could warrant disqualification under Rule 1.2a are

1.2a/1 Meaning of Serious Misconduct

The phrase “serious misconduct” in Rule 1.2a is intended to cover player misconduct that is so far removed from the expected norm in golf that the most severe sanction of removing a player from the competition is justified. This includes dishonesty, deliberately interfering with another player’s rights, or endangering the safety of others.

The Committee must determine if the misconduct is serious considering all the circumstances. Even if the Committee determines that the misconduct is serious, it may take the view that it is more appropriate to warn the player that a repeat of the misconduct or similar misconduct will result in disqualification, instead of disqualifying him or her in the first instance.

Examples of actions by a player that are likely to be considered serious misconduct include:

  • Deliberately causing serious damage to a putting green.
  • Disagreeing with the course setup and taking it on himself or herself to move tee-markers or boundary stakes.
  • Throwing a club towards another player or spectator.
  • Deliberately distracting other players while they are making strokes.
  • Removing loose impediments or movable obstructions to disadvantage another player after that other player has asked him or her to leave them in place.
  • Repeatedly refusing to lift a ball at rest when it interferes with another player in stroke play.
  • Deliberately playing away from the hole and then towards the hole to assist the player’s partner (such as helping the player’s partner learn the break on the putting green).
  • Deliberately not playing in accordance with the Rules and potentially gaining a significant advantage by doing so, despite incurring a penalty for a breach of the relevant Rule.
  • Repeatedly using vulgar or offensive language.
  • Using a handicap that has been established for the purpose of providing an unfair advantage or using the round being played to establish such a handicap.

Examples of actions by a player that, although involving misconduct, are unlikely to be considered serious misconduct include:

  • Slamming a club to the ground, damaging the club and causing minor damage to the turf.
  • Throwing a club towards a golf bag that unintentionally hits another person.
  • Carelessly distracting another player making a stroke

Because digital media poses a problem some Golf Clubs include clauses in their Club Rules that provide for a Social Media Policy as well.

A suggested Social Media Policy can be seen by clicking here.

A suggested Code of Conduct Policy can be seen by clicking here.