Is it time for clubs to scrap dress codes?

Average: 4.8 (4 votes)
One of the consistent themes heard at the recent Golf Inc. Conference in La Quinta, Calif., was the need to make golf fun again. Speaker after speaker warned that clubs holding rigidly to “you-must-do-this-but-you-can’t-do-that” policies are going to pay a steep price in the long run.
Does it still make sense to ban cell phone use? Why does someone need to wear a coat and tie to sit down and eat a hamburger? Lifestyles of the American public are changing and clubs that put too many frivolous restrictions on members or guests are just going to drive away potential customers.  
The most obvious target of these no-fun critics is dress codes at clubs, specifically those that ban jeans, either on the course or in dining rooms. Longtime golf industry executive Tom Frost cautioned attendees at the Golf Inc. Conference that the industry is excluding an entire generation by not permitting golfers to wear jeans. Attorney and session moderator Randy Addison described an uncomfortable situation in which he and his wife were asked to leave a club’s otherwise-empty dining room in the middle of the afternoon simply because she was wearing jeans. 
It’s a controversial topic at many clubs. Some do relax the rules to allow “casual nights.” But traditionalist members don’t always understand why policies need to change.
Should golf clubs scrap the strict dress codes to allow more casual attire such as jeans? Is it practical to require coats and ties in dining rooms today? If you know of clubs that have moved away from such policies, how have they managed it without alienating long-time members? We’d like to hear your opinions.  


I don't think dress codes are bad at all. In fact, I think they are necessary to maintain some decorum at clubs. However, I think they should keep up with trends. Jeans have become very fashionable these days & do not look like the "dungarees" of yesteryear. Now, I don't think jeans or t-shirts have a place on the course, but see no issue with them in the 19th hole grille.

the industry is excluding an entire generation by not permitting golfers to wear jeans. I could not agree more. Any sport/industry has to move with the times. It is behaviour which counts on the course - not what you wear. How about Poulters pink pants - are they banned ?

I think proper dress code at high end courses is necessary or you'll have these kids that wear their pants real low with their underwear sticking out playing at your course. I think we have been too easy on dress code in public allowing the anything goes policy. What ever happened to modesty. You see it in girls and boys. KEEP THE DRESS CODE ENFORCED...I LIKE IT.

As long at Golf Inc continues to promote architects and courses that waste money while designing for egos and real estate dollars, golf will not be made more fun. Dress barely matters. The course needs to be fun - and most modern ones aren't. Cheers

WHile I certainly like the fact that my 19 year old son look smore like a gentleman on the golf course, the game is certainly discouraging participation by holding on to these rules. It comes down to a question of what is more important, tradition or growth? The answer is not the same everywhere and this debate will rage for a long time. As someone who appreciates some of the tradition, but wears cargo shorts when able, I can see both sides of the issue. The bottom line is that if you need more players or members the rules will be relaxed. If you don't need those players/members you can hold fast. Since few clubs can afford to hold fast, I suspect the rules will gradually be relaxed around the game. We need the next generation for survival.

I think many clubs are moving away from overly strict policies and becoming more accomodating especially for families. But at the end of the day, clubs are still special places and not TGIFridays or the local pub. Is it really that difficult to throw on a pair of khackis and nice shirt? What's next sweatsuits?

The question for me is, "What am I paying for?" I have no issue with a casual look at the local muni but when it comes to high-end clubs, like the one I belong to, a sloppy look is an eyesore. Just look at Ryan Moore this week at the HSBC in Shanghai. He stands out but not for his solid play. He looks ready for the frisbee golf course, not the links. Really bad form. Looking nice hurts no one and everyone respects a polished look.

It sounds like most people don't get the point Golf Inc is making -- there's a whole generation that who's titans of industry will have never worn a jacket and tie, and rarely worn slacks even. They aren't advocating (necessarily) for the total removal of dress codes, rather that they be completely rewritten to allow for whatever the coming generation believes acceptable (at the high $$ end). The '20s and '50s are long gone, Silicon Valley and its titans are the supreme example -- Steve jobs wears a black shirt and jeans. As for the pants around the knees -- that would be a certain client that is obviously not served, and clubs are missing an opportunity. Also, the fact that people think pants around the knees is how the wealthy of that generation dress is further indication of the disconnect between the generations.

As I understand it, golf is an English sport. Jeans and tees are products of American cotton production. The English bast***s hated the fact that we became cotton producers, a field in which they had enviable control. To show their dissent, jeans and tees were not allowed on golf courses. It is laughable that the majority of US golf courses still blindly adhere to this policy which on a bigger scale appears to be a slap in the face to our GREAT AMRICAN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.

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