Golf’s dress code has come under scrutiny yet again as Oulton Hall coach Thomas Devine defends junior golfers playing in hoodies and tracksuit bottoms – and he’s not alone.
By Charlotte Ibbetson
Not too far behind Brexit, golf’s dress code is fast-becoming one of the most talked-about topics in recent months. We’re closing the gap on gender disparity, introducing new, more inclusive formats and even using AI to propel golf into the 21st century, yet we just can’t seem to shake the antiquated dress code that does nothing but slow it all down.
Last week, Oulton Hall coach Thomas Devine came under fire for ignoring the sport's dress code and allowing his students to play in tracksuit bottoms and hoodies. Director of the club’s FUEL golf (FUture ELite) programme, Devine proudly posted a picture on Twitter of some of his young students donned in comfy clothes, commenting, “it's the playing that's important.”
And of course, it is.
Whether it’s juniors, men or women, surely the first hurdle of getting more people into golf is making them feel comfortable and enjoying the game? If the stuffy dress code is a barrier to that, then we need to do something about it. I think there is a time and a place for golf’s dress code, it just needs shaking up and making more relevant.
It’s a sentiment that is fully-supported within the industry. Former Ladies European Tour star-turned-TV presenter, Henni Zuel, retweeted the picture commenting: “This! I fully support this and am a firm believer in getting rid of dress codes.” In fact, a few years ago, Meghan MacLaren’s dad told us that had LET winner Meghan not been able to play golf in her beloved Newcastle football strip as a junior, she might not have ever got into the game at all.
For me, the issue lies within the fact that we, as an industry, seem to have blurred the lines between standards and traditions. Yes, it’s reasonable to expect people to look smart on the golf course, but why should they feel uncomfortable just because of what we’ve been forced to wear in the past?
Scrapping the dress code, or at least adapting it, isn’t even just about comfort or ease. There’s also the issue of cost; Golf is an expensive sport without having to buy a whole new wardrobe as well. If a beginner chooses to come to the driving range in a pair of leggings before investing in a new pair of golf trousers, what is the problem if it means they’re more likely to take up the game?
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