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Do Strict Dress Codes Have a Place in Modern Day Golf?


ress codes are one of the most contentious issues in golf clubs, Its hard to believe that dress code are still in 2014 very much a part of the traditional elitist image of golf, many only slightly relaxed from over a century ago!

Most private members clubs have some form of attire policy (in varying degrees of strictness admittedly) as to what attire is suitable. In our humble opinion a good rule of thumb is the price of the course you plan to play. The higher the greens fees, the more likely there is to be a dress code for golfers (sad but true). So why is this? Is it a misguided sense of elitism? An attempt to portray an aspirational club image, or merely a means to justify high fees? We posed this question to our readers and the most common replies were: “etiquette”, “standards” or simply “that’s the way it is”. According to a survey 91% of 1,273 Prestige Golf readers (all members of UK golf clubs) believe that a relaxed dress code at their clubhouse would either have no effect or better still a positive effect on how much time they spent in the clubhouse. In contrast a miniscule 11 per cent said it would have a detrimental effect. So why in 2014 do golf clubs still have these dated rules in place? Colin Montgomerie recently stated that golf has an elitist feel to it and that barriers need to be broken down. Mike O’Connell, manager of Hoebridge Golf Club, added that dress codes “restrict entry into the game”. The manager of Lincoln Golf Club added: “We are in the hospitality business and must give punters what they want. Otherwise golf clubs are failing themselves and their members.” Last summer Golf Monthly, ran an interesting article on the attire issue. The vast majority think rules on clothing are still relevant today, but more than three quarters of golfers believe jeans should be allowed in the clubhouse bar. In a similar poll conducted a decade earlier - an overwhelming majority opposed denim in the clubhouse.

“Allowing jeans in the clubhouse would be a no-brainer for me. I, and all of the people I golf with, wear jeans 99 percent of the time. As such, I am never likely to drop into the club for a quick drink or a bite to eat because I am never going to be suitably dressed when I am passing the club. Equally, when I have finished playing, my wife is never likely to drop in for some food with me because she only wears jeans, so is never going to be suitably dressed”

If a golf club is concerned about its financial future and has a dress code, then it is probably only a matter of time before it has to change. Mark Steel recently wrote ‘far more people would play golf if the game wasn’t ruined by stuck-up condescending suburban snobs who insist on jackets and ties being worn in the bar to ‘protect standards’’. Tradition is important, but not as much as the future. With the issue constantly evolving, our advice to club managers - cost analysis is needed to keep up to date with the modern golfer.

Prestige Golf


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