Unlike a lot of sports, your golf attire might get just as much, if not more, attention than your actual golf game.
They say clothes make the person but dressing up in the right outfit won’t make you a golfer. Still, if you’ve put in the time to learn the game, you should probably consider what it takes to dress the part. Now, we here at The Lux Authority are firmly in the camp that you should wear whatever makes you most comfortable, especially when doing something leisurely. However, many golf clubs have dress codes and, especially if you are playing with colleagues or clients, you’ll probably want to wear the right golf attire.
But what is the right golf attire? We all have our own ideas of what golfers are supposed to wear on the links. Whether you want to look like the dudes from Entourage or the dudes from the Three Stooges, we’ve got an explainer that will help you get the right duds for the game. You will want to combine fashion with function. Not only will you look good on the course, you'll feel good, too.
The Evolution of Golf Attire.
While the history of golf is a long one, the most relevant bits start in Scotland where the modern version of the game comes from. Originally, people simply wore what they needed to wear in order to endure the elements in the Scottish countryside. They wore short pants, known as knickerbockers, that ended below the knee. They wore heavy tweed jackets and shirts with starched collars. They also donned tweed caps, neckties, and study shoes. It evolved over time, but this look formed the foundation of what we now think of as classic golf attire.
Over the years, golf attire changed with the times, though it’s always been the most formal of sports. There were small changes, knickers got longer and flannel replaced tweed as the fabric of choice. A heat wave hit the U.S. Open in 1933 and many golfers shed the formal wear. Over the next few decades, more casual looks became acceptable. Still, golfers today wear collared shirts, slacks, and shoes specifically designed for golf but resemble loafers more than sneakers.
Is Proper Golf Attire Really Important?
In the grand scheme of things, proper golf attire is not that important. What you wear to the course largely depends on your own comfort and style. However, sometimes the golf club has a dress code. Perhaps your golf outing is more business than pleasure? Or, maybe, you just want to make a good impression on the course. In these cases, wearing proper golf attire is not just important, it’s essential.
It would be nice if people were judged only on their character or skills, but we humans are visual creatures and first impressions are usually just visual. So, if you are meeting a boss or a client on the links, showing up in proper golf attire is vital to that. It shows both that you respect the game and you take yourself seriously. It shows that you know what you’re doing and appropriate social norms. And, if you’re lucky, you can find golf attire that still makes stylish and fashionable statements.
What If Golf Attire Isn’t Your Style?
Some folks? Their idea of “formal” is putting together a nice blazer and jeans combo. So, they might look at the polo shirts and khaki pants favored by golfers and gag from their bland lameness. First, there is nothing wrong with a good polo and khakis combo, whether you are on the golf course or if that’s the uniform for the retail store where your kids work. It’s not ostentatious, but it’s comfortable and looks fine. Second, those in the business of making golf attire have plenty of options for you to chose from.
From Nike to Titleist to Foray to Tellinger’s, there are countless brands who make golf attire that put their own stylish spin on the classic look. Unless you hand-make your clothes, buying golf attire is just like buying your work or leisure clothes. You shop around until you find pieces or brands that you like. You’re not going to get away with a T-shirt and jeans and flip-flops on the course. Yet, with a little patience and effort, you can feel comfortable both in how your clothes fit and how they look. Classic rules say only a single item of clothing should be a bright color or otherwise bold, but it’s a matter of personal taste.
The Best Golf Attire for Men and Women
Thankfully, the dark days of when golf was a sport limited to only people of certain genders or backgrounds is over. It’s a game anyone can play, so long as they have the right shoes, the right gear, and a little know-how. So, for our list below, we are going to include examples of clothing for everyone.
As any fashion-forward person can tell you, the best outfits always start with the shoes. Like football or baseball, golf shoes are usually spiked on the bottom. Traditionally, these were metal spikes but many modern clubs don’t allow these as they damage the course. Today’s golf shoes are made with softer, plastic spikes. Only rarely do golf courses require these shoes, and unless you are a serious golfer you can likely go with sneakers. Boots and other hard-soled footwear is usually not allowed on the course. As with any athletic shoe, you will want to pay attention to comfort and performance.
Pants, Skirts, and even Kilts!
The only true difference when it comes to golf attire for men and women is what they wear on the lower halves of their bodies. Men, typically, wear full-length slacks in a solid, neutral color. Women have more options, as they can wear slacks or a skirt.
Despite all the progress over the past century, some golf course dress codes still require that women’s skirts be a certain length above the knee. On more liberal courses, golfers of any gender can wear shorts as they play. Of course, there is another option.
Since golf has its roots in Scotland, it is not uncommon to see people wearing a kilt on the course. A kilt, a plaid skirt with a deeper meaning in many cases, is a traditional Scottish garment, so that makes it proper golf attire by default. You will still have to wear the right shirt, socks, and shoes.
Also, it should be noted here that most courses require a belt and that you keep your shirt tucked in. Any belt will do, but if you really want to wear proper golf attire, make sure it matches your shoes.
The only real rule when it comes to golf shirts is that that they have a collar and some kind of sleeves. Some courses require men wear long-sleeved shirts with at least three buttons. Women golfers can get away with a sleeveless top on most courses. The trade-off is usually a draconian rule about “not exposing” their “midriff” while swinging. If the course is the kind to get uptight about golf attire, the shirt or shoes is usually the main focus. Still, thanks to modern fashion merging with technology, you will want to wear a proper golf shirt. Many stylish and comfortable shirts are made with moisture-wicking fabric designed to keep you cool and dry on hot days on the course.
Socks and So On
When it comes to proper golf attire, unless you are wearing knickers or a kilt, any pair of socks will do. There are socks especially designed to be golf attire, however. These socks are also made from moisture-wicking fabrics and can have extra support in the toe, heel, and arch areas for all the walking people do on the course. When wearing shorts, you can go old school and yank the socks up to your calves like you would with a kilt, but that does seem to defeat the purpose of shorts. Instead, wear socks that lay close to the top of the shoe.
Jackets and Sweaters
Golf is a sport best played in the warm weather, like spring and summer, but it doesn’t only have to be played in those seasons. As active as golfing is, there are still times when you are standing around not being active. When it’s a colder day, you will want to have layers that you can take off or put on as you need to. Pullover sweaters or sweater-vests are good for days with a chill in the air. When there is precipitation or a sharp breeze, you might want to go with a water-resistant jacket or windbreaker. The most important thing to remember is that layers are key. If the temperature rises or falls while you’re on the course, you don’t want to be caught unawares.
Today, most golfers wear brimmed hats to help keep the sun out of their eyes. Baseball caps are the most common type you will see on the course, but really any brimmed hat will do. There are people who wear fedoras, pork pie hats, and classic flat caps based on your own style. Women golfers can wear any hat they chose, as well, though you will want to keep it practical for the activity. Hats aren’t necessary, of course, but if you are bothered by the sun you might want to keep one handy. If you find yourself lamenting the limited nature of golf attire style, a good hat might be just what you need to really make the look your own.
The golf glove is more a tool of the game than a part of the outfit, but technically you do wear it on your body. For some reason, a person wearing only a single glove has always been a little cool and dangerous. Of course, on the golf course, there is a clear function for that. Usually worn on your “lead hand” – meaning the non-dominant hand – it helps maintain a good grip and reduce callouses. Some golfers, typically women, wear two gloves, but for the most part people go with the single-glove look.
The best golf attire blends performance and style in such a way that you feel as good as you look while wearing it.
Fashion is a form of self-expression that’s basically an art form, but the clothes you wear while golfing are meant to do more than look good. Proper golf attire is both athletic wear and comports to the style demanded by your golf club. More importantly, especially when golfing for business rather than pleasure, it can also help you make a good impression on the people you’re with. You will look like you know what you are doing and what is appropriate. Who knows? The right golf attire might help you secure the deal or promotion of a lifetime.
We hope you enjoyed our tips about the proper golf attire and the product suggestions. Just remember that shopping for golf attire is just like shopping for any other clothing. There are just a few more things to consider than style.
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