GOLF IS A GAME that celebrates precision, premeditation, and tradition. Although, these characteristics don’t only describe the talents of golfers themselves and the courses they play on, but also the apparel they opt for. That’s because golf is about much more than knocking a ball into a hole. It’s about embracing a sport that is steeped in history and elegant in its very nature in a display of sartorial finesse. As golfers stride across undulating fairways, their attire speaks volumes about their respect for the game and its heritage.
That can all make for quite an intimidating barrier to involvement for golfing newcomers—but be assured, even the older blokes in the clubhouse are forced to adhere to meticulous dress codes. We’d love to tell you that how you dress for golf doesn’t matter, but it does. Many clubs have strict dress codes, and even if you’re only teeing off with a few mates, not looking the part can rub people the wrong way—or worse, throw off your game.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice just starting your golfing career, understanding the nuances of golf clothing is essential for both performance and etiquette. Here’s your comprehensive guide to dressing for success on the links.
How should you dress for golf?
Traditionally, golf attire is refined and sophisticated while maintaining functionality. Crafting an outfit that meets such requirements is easier said than done, and that’s without taking into account the dress code of any particular club. So, before delving into the specifics of golf attire, it’s imperative to understand dress codes.
While rules may vary slightly from one club to another, there are overarching principles that govern proper golf attire. Most dress codes call for neat and casual apparel. Shorts, while they are occasionally allowed at some courses, should never be too far above the knee. Wearing shoes at all times is also a requirement.
Now that you know the basics, we can dive into each element of your golf outfit, with an emphasis on adhering to dress codes.
Collared shirts are a non-negotiable staple on the golf course. Polo shirts are the gold standard here, offering a smart and tailored look while allowing for ease of movement during swings—the perfect balance between style and functionality. Prioritise breathable fabrics like cotton or polyester blends to stay comfortable in potentially stuffy weather conditions. And avoid wearing shirts with bold graphics as you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself. Subtle prints with muted and pastel colours are your best bet. Ideally, you’ll blend in rather than stand out.
Golf shorts or trousers are the preferred choice for lower body golf attire, flat-front or pleated khaki pants and shorts are your friend here. In either a long or short legged scenario, your bottoms should be well-fitted while allowing for ease of movement. Remember to steer clear of denim (jeans are unfortunately frowned upon on the course), cargo pants and excessively short shorts.
If you’re planning on frequently traversing fairways and negotiating greens, investing in a reliable pair of golf shoes will be money well spent. Soft spikes or cleats on the underside of these shoes provide traction and stability during swings and walks across the course. Don’t go too heavy on the spikes though, they can damage the green. Look for shoes with waterproofing and breathable materials to keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout your round.
Socks are one component of golfwear that you have some leeway with. While they should be at least long enough to cover your ankles, if you’re wearing long pants, who’s going to know if you get a little experimental?
While not mandatory, hats or visors serve a dual purpose on the golf course by shielding your eyes from the sun and, ideally, completing your ensemble. During the warmer months, the sun on the golf course can have particular bite, so a wide-brimmed hat (and some sunscreen) will keep you protected. Plus, all the pro golfers wear visors, so you’ll at least look like you know what you’re doing.
Depending on the weather conditions, outerwear such as windbreakers or sweaters may be necessary. Choose lightweight fabrics that provide warmth without restricting movement. A small asterisk here, not all clubs allow types of outerwear like baggier sweaters and jumpers, play it safe and keep it reasonably tight fitting, lest you end up with an infringement notice from the club.
Dos and don’ts to follow when dressing for golf
Do: Layer strategically
Master the art of layering by combining moisture-wicking base layers with lightweight outerwear. This ensures optimal temperature regulation throughout your round, allowing you to focus on your game without distractions.
Don’t: Wear loud patterns
While it’s fun to express your personality through clothing, it’s best to avoid overly bright or distracting patterns on the golf course. Opt for classic solids or subtle prints for a timeless look.
Do: Accessorise thoughtfully
Pay attention to the finer details by accessorising with belts, gloves, and sunglasses. Coordinate accessories with your outfit to create a cohesive look that exudes confidence rather than pretentiousness—a veritable plague at many clubs. A dab of sunscreen won’t go amiss either, as you’re going to be spending plenty of time in the sun.
Don’t: Disrespect tradition by ignoring the dress code
Above all, respect the tradition and heritage of the game by adhering to established dress codes and etiquette guidelines. By doing so, you not only honour the spirit of golf but also contribute to the reputation of the sport. Before heading to the course, familiarise yourself with the dress requirements to avoid any embarrassment or inconvenience.
Do: Tuck in your shirt!
This one is starting to slip out of popular use as dress codes become more lax, but traditionally, shirts should be tucked in while on the course. Nothing says neat and polished like a tucked shirt.
Don’t: Skimp on quality
Quality should always take priority over quantity when it comes to golf clothing. Invest in well-crafted pieces that are designed to withstand the various rigours of the golf course (yes, there are a few) while maintaining their integrity wash after wash.
5 easy additions to your golf wardrobe
RLX Ralph Lauren Tour Pique Polo Shirt
As we mentioned earlier, polos are the gold standard of golf shirts, and few make them better than the folks at Ralph Lauren. Remember that muted and pastel colours should always be your first choice.
Cross Storm Windproof Golf Jacket
It can get pretty chilly out on the links, especially if you’re golfing out of season in the middle of winter. To prevent frostbite—ok, that’s an exaggeration, but the cold can affect your game—a warming jacket or windbreaker is a must.
Under Armour Drive Golf Joggers
These golf joggers epitomise the neat and casual aesthetic. Boasting a sophisticated look and just the right amount of breathability, these pants are ideal for golfers of all levels. And you can’t go wrong with khaki.
Puma 101 South Golf Shorts
For when you simply can’t stomach the idea of donning pants in blistering heat, but can’t resist getting a golfing fix, classy shorts like these ones from Puma are your saviour.
HS Eyewear Stinger 3.0
You can’t go wrong with a pair of classic matte black sunglasses, which are doubly effective in completing your ensemble and protecting you from the sun.