Golf Dress Code: What Should You Wear For Golf?

golf dress code

Golf is a sport steeped in tradition, and its dress code is no exception. The golf course dress code has evolved over the years to reflect the sport’s values of respect, professionalism, and decorum. This article explores the elements of golf attire, the reasons behind these standards, and the variations found across different clubs and regions.

Historical Context

The origins of the golf course dress code can be traced back to the early days of the sport in Scotland. In the 19th century, golfers often played in everyday clothes, which for men included suits and ties, and for women, long skirts and blouses.

As the sport gained popularity and formalized clubs were established, dress codes became more defined. These early dress codes aimed to maintain a certain level of propriety and class, reflecting the sport’s association with the upper echelons of society.

Modern Dress Code Standards

Today, the dress code for golfers typically includes the following elements:

For Men:

  • Tops: T-shirts are not allowed. Collared shirts, usually polo shirts, are a must. Traditional button-downs are rare, although I have seen it on the golf course. Another stylish option is the mock turtleneck, popularized by Tiger Woods, offering a modern alternative to polo shirts.
  • Shorts: Tailored chino/golf shorts are acceptable. Cargo shorts and athletic shorts are usually prohibited. However, I have seen cargo shorts on the course because they are very similar to chino shorts and offer more functionality with their extra pockets. I’ve found that most courses will allow them, but not all.
  • Pants: Long pants such as chinos, khakis, and golf pants are acceptable. Golf jogger pants are also in fashion nowadays, but jeans are always prohibited.
  • Footwear: Golf shoes with soft spikes are standard. Most clubs may allow sneakers, but flip-flops and sandals are a no-go. However, footwear may provide more performance benefits than adhereing to the golf course dress code. Because without appropriate footwear, you might slip while swinging, which won’t benefit you at all.
  • Headwear: Caps and visors are common, but they should be worn with the brim facing forward. Bucket hats have become increasingly popular as they provide protection from the sun at all angles.

For Women:

  • Shirts: Collared shirts or tops with sleeves. Sleeveless tops are acceptable if they have a collar. T-shirts and tank tops are not allowed.
  • Bottoms: Skirts, skorts, shorts, or pants. These should be of an appropriate length, usually reaching at least mid-thigh.
  • Footwear: Golf shoes or athletic shoes are required. Like men, women should avoid sandals and flip-flops.
  • Headwear: Caps, visors, and sun hats are typical, with the same forward-facing rule applying.

Reasons Behind the Dress Code

The golf course dress code serves several purposes:

  1. Respect for Tradition: Golf is a sport with a rich history, and the dress code is a nod to its traditions and origins.
  2. Professionalism: Dressing appropriately on the course promotes a sense of professionalism and seriousness about the game.
  3. Etiquette: Proper attire is a sign of respect for fellow golfers and the club itself. It helps maintain the decorum and atmosphere of the course.
  4. Practicality: Golf attire is designed to be comfortable and functional, allowing for ease of movement and protection from the elements.

Variations and Exceptions

While most golf clubs adhere to similar dress code standards, there can be variations depending on the region, the type of club (public vs. private), and special events. For instance:

  • Private Clubs: These often have stricter dress codes and may require specific brands or styles of clothing.
  • Public Courses: Dress codes at public courses tend to be more relaxed, though they still uphold basic standards.
  • Tournaments and Events: Professional tournaments may have their own dress codes, and theme events or charity outings might relax the rules temporarily.


The golf course dress code is more than just a set of rules; it’s a reflection of the sport’s heritage and values. By adhering to these standards, golfers show respect for the game, their fellow players, and the venues that host them. As the sport continues to evolve, so too will its dress code, blending tradition with modernity to ensure that golf remains a stylish and respected pursuit for generations to come.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newcomer to the game, understanding and adhering to the golf course dress code is an essential part of the experience. So, next time you head out to the links, make sure you’re dressed for success – both on and off the course.

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