Having been brought up as part of a golfing family (my dad started to take me to the golf club and driving range when I was about 9 or 10) I’ve always known where I stood with the dress code in golf. Although I don’t always agree with it (which is another matter for another day) I’ve always understood it and known what types of clothes would be acceptable on the course and in the clubhouse.
Now I’m getting to the age where a lot of my previously non-golfing friends are starting to take the game up and the first question they always ask before heading to their first golf course is – what should I wear?
If you’re not from a golfing background, then knowing what attire to play golf in can be quite a challenge. Golf, for better or worse, has a long history of traditions and the dress code is one of them.
The problem is, some golf courses are more strict with the dress code than others. So if you’re playing a new course or your first ever course, that leaves you open to potentially not complying with the club’s dress code. This could mean that they refuse to let you out on the course, or you end up with an expensive bill scrambling the appropriate attire in the pro shop before the round. Both will ruin your day and golfing experience.
To save you from this fate, we recommend two things:
- Check with the golf club before your round – If you’re not sure what will be and won’t be accepted, check the golf clubs website ahead of your game or give them a call and ask. This will save you a lot of doubt and potentially buying things you didn’t need.
- Play it safe – If in doubt follow the basic guidelines below and you can’t go wrong. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We’ve created a guide of some items to wear while you are golfing. If you stick to this guide, you cannot go too wrong with your wardrobe.
Collared Golf Shirts
Polo shirts are the standard items of clothing for all golfers. You can wear short sleeve or long sleeve polo shirts, or even a button up shirt, but the most important thing to remember is that you should always wear a shirt or polo shirt with a collar.
T-shirts without a collar are unfortunately a no-go at most golf clubs. You should also avoid any polo shirts with football badges, rugby crests or any other large logos not designed for golf.
When picking a shirt or polo shirt, you should consider the weather conditions – after all a round of golf will take you 4 hours on average. If it’s a warm day, it is advisable to wear a short-sleeved shirt and pick a lighter colour that reflects the sun a little. However, whatever the weather, make sure that the shirt you wear is made from a breathable fabric, which will help keep you comfortable and cool.
Generally your shirt should also be tucked in.
Trousers or Shorts
To look smart, it is advised that you wear some golf trousers or smart chinos. Make sure that these are not too thick, as you do not want to feel too hot while you’re out on the course. You’ll also want some trousers that give you a bit of movement to swing the club correctly.
In terms of colour, you are free to choose what you want. Colours such as navy, gray, and khaki are quite popular. A lot of golfers will want to wear white trousers (like the pros do). Bear in mind, however, that white trousers tend to stain easily, especially from grass or mud. And if you’re a beginner it’s likely you’ll be in the rough a fair bit so if you do wear white, be prepared to give them a thorough wash!
At most clubs you can also wear shorts and you’ll be happy you did so if it’s a hot day. However, once again, you should wear smart shorts and they should generally be knee length. Drawstring, cargo, combat or sports style shorts will probably not be accepted.
Jeans (whether shorts of full length) are not accepted at most golf courses in the country and only the more relaxed clubs will allow you to wear them in the clubhouse after your round. To play it safe, avoid them full stop.
When it comes to shoes, you’ll need to have a pair of golf shoes.
It can be confusing to find the right pair since there are so many options on the market. While golf shoes with steel spikes are often worn by professional golf players, most courses have now banned them. The steel spikes can damage the greens and also be dangerous in frosty conditions so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Golf courses now prefer soft spiked shoes. These spikes can be made from plastic or rubber and are, therefore, less dangerous to you and the course. These are often also cheaper than steel spiked shoes.
You can also get shoes without any spikes – spikeless golf shoes. You should, however, make sure that these shoes give you good footing and plenty of grip.
Generally it’s worthwhile investing in a pair of good golf shoes. If you’re unsure where to start, check out our guide to the best golf shoes for every budget.
Never wear sandals or flip-flops to play golf, as these will not be safe for your feet and will be turned away by most clubs on the course and in the clubhouse.
Hats are worn by most professionals as they are great sponsorship opportunities and companies pay them big money to plaster their logo on the front of them. As a result, a lot of amateurs also wear caps on the course, imitating the pros but without the paycheck!
Not only are hats stylish accessories, but they can also protect you from the weather. Whether you wear one to keep your head a little warmer or to provide you with shade, hats can be really useful on the course to block the sunlight that would otherwise be in your eyes.
For this reason many golfers like to wear hats when they plan. Just make sure you don’t wear it backwards as this is also frowned upon.
In winter you can also wear beanies or woolly hats to keep warm.
When playing golf early in the morning or in cooler climates, you’ll want to wear additional layers to your polo shirt. Here the rules are a little more relaxed and if you want to layer up you can wear wolly style jumpers, sports style quarter zips, gillets or full zip mid-layers.
Ideally you’ll want something comfortable and warm. The sportier style clothing is more popular these days as the fabrics are engineered to be windproof, shower-proof and breathable. Jumpers made of wool whilst keeping you warm, won’t help much in the wind or rain.
Whatever you choose, stick to golf brands or to the same principles throughout this article (no football badges, big logos, cargo or denim style clothing) and you should be fine.
If it is raining, you’ll also want to invest in some golf waterproofs or at least carry some waterproof clothing on the course. Make sure you’re using something that is lightweight. A lightweight jacket will not hinder your mobility whilst swinging unlike heavier coats, and they’ll also be easier to carry in your golf bag.
I doubted whether to include this as a section in this article or not, but I was once told to buy new socks before teeing off as mine weren’t acceptable – pathetic I know!
If you’re wearing shorts, some clubs may not like you wearing ankle socks. I’d like to think these clubs are few and far between, but you never know. If you want to play it super safe, wear some white sports socks that pull up above the ankles and you’ll definitely have no issues. If not, and you’re playing at a picky course, it’s not the end of the world if you have to buy some in the pro shop for £5 before your round.
Other than that, on wet or cold days, you’ll want to put on thick socks that will keep your feet toasty.
Aside from hats or caps, there will be other accessories that you might be interested in wearing.
On sunny days, you may want to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses will protect your eyes and allow you to see better, albeit some sunglasses can play with your distance perception and can actually make it difficult to play golf in. We’ve pulled together a list of the best golf sunglasses which will help if your current pair aren’t quite up to scratch.
Most golfers will also wear a glove. Traditionally they are only worn on one hand (your lead hand) and they help grip the club. Check out this post if you’re interested in knowing more about golf gloves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you wear jeans when you go golfing?
It is advised that you do not wear jeans while golfing. Most clubs will not allow jeans.
Not only that, but jeans won’t be very comfortable to wear while you are doing exercise, they will probably make you feel too hot and uncomfortable so should be avoided for that reason alone.
Should you tuck your shirt in for golf?
Traditionally, you should tuck your golf shirt into your pants. This will make you look more formal and smart. Some more established and up-market golf courses may even require you to tuck your shirt in. However, if you are going to a more informal course, you should be okay to leave your shirt untucked.
What should women wear to play golf?
This list applies to both men and women. Women can wear all of the items listed above and should roughly stick to the same traditions. However, instead of wearing trousers or shorts, women can also wear skirts to play golf.
For more information check out our guide on what to wear golfing for women.