Something in the golf world news that particularly caught our interest this month was the story of a Canadian woman who has filed a human rights complaint after being fired from her job at a golf club for refusing to wear a bra. As if the debate surrounding dress codes wasn't already complex enough, the story might have just given us a new perspective on the topic.
By Charlotte Ibbetson
An article I wrote a few weeks ago, ‘Do Golf Clubs Really Still Need a Dress Code?’, sparked a wide-spread debate amongst our readers, to say the least. Feedback on the matter ranged from mildly interested statements of “I don’t really mind”, to those who felt so strongly that we feared they’d turn up at the office with pitchforks and flaming torches for the mere mention of ditching the sacred code.
Then, I spotted in the news a story about a Canadian woman who has filed a human rights complaint after being fired from her job at a golf club for refusing to wear a bra. With a plethora of comments from both men and women (my personal favourite was “Let them swing freely”!!), one thing that did keep coming up was the fact that this was just totally unacceptable at a golf club, suggesting that if it were anywhere else it would be a different subject altogether.
Bra on or bra off, the story made me realise that the topic of what is acceptable to wear at a golf club and what is not is anything but black and white (or lacey).
I do have to admit that, after playing golf last weekend, I feel that I myself have taken a slight change in direction on the issue of dress codes- not quite a U-turn but more of a zig-zag step backwards.
Turning up at the first tee (wearing my regulation-length skort and collared polo), I was greeted by two men, both of whom had their shirts untucked (at one of the Middle East’s most prestigious golf clubs, I’d like to just add) and just looked generally scruffy. As the normal fairway chit chat progressed throughout our round, I mentioned that I had written something about dress codes recently, as I genuinely was interested in what they’d have to say. To my surprise, my statement was met with comments from them both that a dress code should absolutely be in place, and that golf wouldn’t be golf without it.
I stared back in disbelief, trying not to make it too obvious when my mouth fell open. These men stood in front of me, with their shirts untucked and looking visibly dishevelled, preaching the importance of properly upholding a dress code. Clearly, they thought that wearing white socks and a collared shirt, they could merrily play their game safe in the knowledge that they had ticked those ancient dress code boxes.
Well, they hadn’t. But yet they also weren’t really wearing anything that particularly disobeyed the rules.
Which bought me to my latest revelation. Do I think that changing the dress code will help modernise golf and encourage more people into the game? Absolutely. But at the same time, I also think that golf is a sport that carries with it a rather charming tradition and heritage that should be respected, at the very least by turning up at the course looking smart.
For me, I think the problem lies somewhere between respecting that tradition and working out a universal way for people to understand what smart really means. But for now, let the great debate continue.
And as for the bra, well, the jury is still out on that one…