Grow the game. Reach a younger audience. Make golf accessible to more than just those fortunate enough to have the money and means for our beloved game. All the sayings from the industry leaders, players, executives, and media. How do we do this? ….clearly no one has pinpointed the solution but many have come up with cost saving and time saving ideas that still haven’t stirred up the rumblings of a golfing revolution.
Here’s my simple thought: Although golf is founded on rules, etiquette, and traditions what’s stopping us from altering one of the most simple and cost effective policies, the dress code? In my humble opinion, this will not only ease the exclusivity golf promotes but can also fuel industry economic growth. Here’s why….
In order to play at the majority of courses a golfer must meet the policy expectations of golf attire. A tucked in shirt with a collar, specified length of shorts or skirts, and proper shoes are the baseline requirements. Does the tucked in shirt improve your golf game? No. Does a shirt with a collar help you putt better? No. Does the length of your shorts define the distance you get off the tee? No, and women have proved this on the LPGA tour as many of you have probably noticed the shortening of the skirts and shorts. Do industry standard golf shoes lower your score? Maybe. Yes, they can help but then why were spikeless shoes brought to market?
Amateur golfers are the target consumer and you’re asking us to shell over $50+ just for one shirt… and that’s just the top half of the needed attire. An entire outfit (top, bottom, shoes, hat) could easily run a golfer $200. Really.
How about we loosen up the golf dress code, not turn it on its head but relax the policy a little. What is the harm in a t-shirt? What is the harm in women wearing a shorter skirt or tank top? What is the harm in wear running shoes versus spiked golf shoes? Nothing. If the likes of Puma and Nike are adding a “younger” look to their color schemes and patterns, why not add more items to their line at lower prices? We’re going to buy it and wear it. We’ll probably buy more of it, hence the golf industry economic growth. Lowering expectations of golf dress codes also helps bring in the younger audience. They so desperately want to look cool and unlike their parents or grandparents. Hell, I want to look cool too! Do you think kids really want to tuck in their shirt? Asking them to do so, for most, is like forcing them to eat all their peas. Not gonna happen so instead they go snack on something else… or in our case, just give up on golf entirely.
Here’s what needs to happen though to inspire the change… the PGA Tour officials will need to relax their player standards. Could you imagine seeing the likes of Rory or Rickie wearing a t-shirt during a round? How about Jordan Spieth? I’ve seen their Instagram accounts… they already do relax their golf attire during social play and they have more golf apparel then they know what to do with it.
So, final thoughts… is the golf dress code still necessary? I think not. Don’t do away with the traditional golf apparel but add in some new, younger, more relaxed options. Have you ever been over to play at Torrey Pines? It’s a municipal course believe it or not that carries NO golf dress code policy. Of course they appreciate their players wearing a “golf look” but they aren’t going to stop someone from playing in jeans or a t-shirt… and out of towners pay big bucks to play there!
Golf equipment will always carry a cost. Tee times will always carry a cost (although adding more 9 hole rates would help ease the burden). Why not lower expectations (within reason) and make apparel more cost effective for the consumer?
Just my two cents…