If you’re headed out to the golf course for the first time, you’re probably concerned with having a good swing, having the right golf gear, or not looking like a total doofus your first time out.
But there’s one other thing you need to worry about. In fact, this is arguably the most important because, if you get this wrong, the golf course won’t let you play.
You need to meet the golf course’s dress code.
The thing is, the golf course doesn’t care about your swing or if you suck at golf. Nor do they care if you have the right gear.
But if you show up wearing the wrong clothes, they’ll either ask you to buy what you need from their pro shop or to go home.
It goes without saying that golf courses take their dress codes seriously.
Why Golf Clubs Have Dress Codes
Why do golf courses have dress codes? The answer is simple.
Wearing proper attire is a mark of respect. Golf is a gentlemen’s and ladies’ game that’s played respectfully.
Golf has had a dress code for decades. It’s one of the oldest traditions of the game and it’s unlikely to change, regardless of the many golfers who feel that golf courses should do away with them. The dress code will never go away – not entirely.
Some people view this as “uppity” or pretentious. And some people who enforce these rules or look down at those who don’t want to adhere to them certainly fit those descriptions.
Ultimately, though, it’s about showing up to the golf course in a clean and presentable manner, and not looking like a mess.
When you wear proper attire to the golf course, you’re practicing good golf course etiquette.
Proper Attire for Private Golf Courses and Country Clubs
It will be easier to tell you what the dress code is for private golf courses and country clubs by first telling what you can not wear.
Clothing Not Allowed on the Golf Course
- denim / blue jeans
- basketball shorts
- sports jerseys
- flip flops
- anything with massive advertising
- anything with foul language
- 3/4 length shorts
- shoes with steel spikes
- backwards caps
- caps in the clubhouse/bar
- tank tops
- cut offs
- swim shorts
- tennis shorts
- long sleeve or baggy short sleeved shirts
- anything that shows too much cleavage
- anything oversized or too baggy
It doesn’t leave a whole lot else, does it? Here’s what most golf courses and clubs expect their patrons and members to wear.
Acceptable Golf Attire for Men
- collared polo shirt
- shirts with mock collars
- shorts or slacks with belt loops
Guys may not have to tuck in their shirts, but that’s only if your shirt was made to wear untucked. Otherwise you’ll want to tuck your shirt in to avoid looking messy.
Proper Golf Attire for Women
- golf shorts
- golf specific t-shirts
Dresses, skirts, and shorts must not be any shorter than 5-6 inches above the knee, though the specific rules will vary from one golf course to the next.
Attire and Accessories for Everyone
- soft spike golf shoes
- spikeless golf shoes
- trainers are often okay
- belt and socks
- hat or cap
- baseball caps
- cowboy hats
- bucket hats
- wide brim hats
- golf glove
- socks near or up to your ankles
When it comes to winter golf attire, many types of attire are acceptable so long as they fit well, and the collar of your shirt is tucked into your jacket or seater.
The Exact Dress Code Will Vary
There are many caveats or nuances to the dress codes above.
For example, many golf courses allow trainers, but not all of them. Some golf course will also turn you away for wearing black socks instead of white if you’re wearing shorts, whereas other courses don’t care so long as your socks match your outfit. The length your socks must be will also vary.
Many courses and clubs will have strict rules in place too, such as letting your guests know about the rules and ensuring they comply with them.
Another rule some courses have is that you can’t change your clothes in the parking lot, or that they reserve the right to request you wear specific attire in certain areas of their property.
And some golf courses will ask that you wear business (casual) attire on the golf course. Imagine that – taking a full swing or hitting a bunker shot in a full suit. But that’s how it is at some courses.
The bottom line – many golf courses, especially private courses, country clubs, and anything you might consider “high end” will likely have a dress code. You’ll want to know what it is before you head over to play.
This guide is a good start. However, I suggest you also check out the golf course’s website or call ahead to make sure you’re dressed properly.
Dress Code for Public Golf Courses, Driving Ranges, Top Golf, etc.
The dress code for public municipal (muni) courses, driving ranges, and places like Top Golf are usually more relaxed.
For example, at several of my local par 3 courses, there is hardly a dress code. At most they ask that you don’t wear tank tops or flip flops. But everything else, including blue jeans, is okay.
Top Golf, in my experience, is the same. I wore jeans and a hoodie/t-shirt the only time I went.
And the driving range I go to doesn’t mine if you show up in jeans, sweat pants, shorts, or whatever else you might want to wear. And this is a golf course that otherwise has a dress code if you plan to play on their golf course.
I’ve worn sneakers every single time too (Vans).
Again, keep in mind that this will vary from course to the next. Some courses and clubs will want you to wear more traditional golf attire, like polo shirts, slacks, and skirts. So, when in doubt, give them a call – just to be on the safe side.
Dress Code FAQ
Can you wear flip flops when golfing?
Most golf courses prohibit it. But even if they allowed it, trying to swing a golf club in flip flops would be uncomfortable and difficult to do. I highly doubt you’d enjoy yourself.
Why don’t pro golfers wear shorts?
The PGA Tour has rules against professional golfers wearing shorts, even in blazing hot heat. In fact, it was only in the last few years that they started allowing caddies to wear shorts.
Can you wear your hat backward while playing golf?
Some golf courses might allow it. Of course, once you’re playing, they’d have to catch you. But you can ask to be sure if you’re really concerned.
That said, the reason many golfers wear caps/hats in the first place isn’t to look “cool,” but to keep the sun off their face and out of their eyes while they play.
Do you need spikes on your golf shoes?
Not necessarily. Many golfers don’t wear (plastic) spiked shoes because they can be uncomfortable to wear for an entire round.
If that’s not an issue, you might consider wearing them if you want more traction while you play. This might be helpful if you live in wet areas or you’re playing during the winter.
Can you wear a Hawaiian shirt to play golf?
Some golf courses allow it, others don’t. You’ll want to check with the golf course before you head out to play.
Do you have to wear golf clothes?
This depends on where you play. If you play at a private golf course, country club, or otherwise higher end course, I’ll all but guarantee you’ll need to wear proper golf attire. This dress code will vary from course to course, though, but the lists of clothes above is a good starting point.
Why are metal spikes banned?
Golf courses don’t want you tearing up their course. But there are alternatives – golf shoes with plastic spikes or spikeless golf shoes that look similar to trainers.
What should beginners (men or women) wear to their first time to the golf course?
Beginners – men or women – are held to the same standard as everyone else. If the golf course has a dress code, you’re expected to follow it or else they won’t let you play.