An Introduction to Men’s Golf Attire

Men’s golf attire has come a long way since the time of thick tweed jackets, ties and woollen plus fours. Today, walk onto even the most exclusive course and you’ll likely see bright colours and modern fabrics in far less formal combinations than you might expect. As with all sportswear these days fabrics have become much more functional than in the past, helping to wick away moisture from the skin, keeping you cool in the heat and warm in the cold as well as dry in the rain. Whilst golf wear is still relatively formal compared to most other sporting outfits and most clubs do still have a strict dress code, golf attire today can be incredibly stylish and comfortable, as well as having functional benefits that can really improve your game.

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The most common rules that golf clubs tend to implement are not actually as restrictive as you might imagine; the most commonly banned items of clothing are collarless or sleeveless shirts, or sports shirts, shorts that are too long or too short, or that have large outside pockets like cargo shorts, shoes that aren’t designed specifically for golf and some materials such as denim. The reason for these rules is to help preserve the traditions and etiquette of the game. The decorum of golf is a large part of the sport’s identity and whilst many clubs have relaxed a lot of their rules in recent years and clothing manufacturers have increasingly been catering to players who want to be more expressive and stylish, dress codes at golf clubs aren’t going away anytime soon. If you’re unsure about the rules always check with somebody at the club before you arrive to make sure you’re allowed to play and you don’t end up having to change before your tee time!

As far as footwear goes, traditionally most golf shoes are leather or a synthetic material that’s similar and are in the style of brogues or saddled formal shoes. Nowadays though, more and more brands are offering golf shoes that look a lot like other sports shoes and if it weren’t for the spikes it would be hard to tell they’re golf shoes at all. The standard spike options are metal or rubber and there are many options so depending on the season, terrain and weather you can always make sure to have the best grip when you play. And remember, just like with bowling shoes, these special shoes are a great way to improve your game.

The most important thing when choosing your golf shoes is to find a pair that are comfortable. You’re going to be walking a long way in them and wearing them for a long time. It’s also always a good idea to break in new shoes before playing your first round in them. Blisters are not pleasant to play golf with.

That brings us to socks. Socks are usually compulsory and some clubs will have rules concerning length, especially when playing in shorts, so don’t be afraid to ask. As with shoes, make sure your socks are comfortable and well fitting. Specialist golf socks often have some extra padding for all those hours of walking around and offer better breathability than regular cotton socks to keep your feet cool and comfortable.

As for trousers or shorts, a conservative cut is usually best, that means chinos or khakis for your golf pants and certainly no denim. You want to be comfortable during your swing so make sure the waistline fits you well and isn’t too loose or constricting. For shorts the length should be close to the knees, so nothing too short and revealing and similarly nothing too baggy as this can look extremely informal. patterns and colours are usually fine but if you’re opting for garish bottoms it’s a good idea to be more conservative on top and go for a plain top. This is a good rule in general and not just on the golf course! Plus fours or ‘knickers’ are very rare these days but if you’d like to wear them it’s best to check ahead with individual courses.

Now onto the top half. The most common golfing attire is by far the polo shirt. All shirts should be collared and tucked in but many courses also now allow polo neck shirts too. Materials have come a long way and so many shirts are far more breathable and lightweight than in previous years. Again, comfort is very important as you’ll be swinging and walking a lot. For men, sleeveless tops a big no-no as well as hooded tops and sports shirts as these are too informal for a golf setting. Often it’s a good idea to wear layers and give yourself some flexibility as the weather can change a lot in a three or four hour round. As with other areas of golfing attire, fashion is increasingly important to players and golf wear manufacturers are better than ever at offering a mix of style and functionality to suit your needs.

Wet weather gear and winter outerwear can be a lifesaver out on the golf course and the right waterproofs can really help you keep your score down when the heavens open. A good umbrella is as much for your bag as for you, after all you can’t hold it while playing a shot, so it’s vital to keep a good quality, lightweight waterproof jacket and usually some over-trousers in your bag if there’s a chance of rain. The quality of these items is far better than it was even ten or twenty years ago and today a good set of waterproofs is not hard to find, on any budget. As with the rest of your outfit the fit is key here as anything that is too loose or too tight will hamper you when swinging, which makes them practically useless.

Finally headwear. Hats can be very useful on the course to keep the sun off of your face  and out of your eyes(if you’re not wearing golf sunglasses) as well as to help you keep cool. The most common hat is a baseball style cap or a visor but other hats are usually acceptable with the exception of trucker caps or anything too informal. Again if you have any doubts it’s best to ask someone before you begin.

Golfers golfing by skeeze/Pixabay CC0 license

Samuel O'Brien

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