Relax the dress code?

Some private golf clubs have pretty rigid rules when it comes to how one can dress. Many allow shorts, but not just any shorts. One club requires that they be “no shorter than 4 inches above the center of the back of the knee.” Another allows them as long as they have “a manufactured hem.” Many ban cargo-style shorts, even if they meet those stringent length and hem requirements. One permits them, that is if they have a crease and are made of “fine fabric.”

Another club says that if you wear pants with belt loops, you must also wear a belt. Nearly all require collared shirts, and they have to be tucked in, unless they are, as one club said, the “tropical style, buttoned down” kind. You’re welcome to wear a cap or visor as long as it is pointed forward. And don’t think about playing golf barefoot, even at Barefoot Resort & Golf in Myrtle Beach, S.C. It’s not allowed.

Got all of that?

Some worry that golf is still a bit too stuffy, even when many in the industry have been working to make it more welcoming and less pretentious in hopes of growing the game. Your church is likely less strict about how you dress than many private golf clubs. For instance, many still ban jeans — even if they are $1,380 Italian-made distressed skinny moto jeans. 

Could such strident codes be hurting clubs? Should they think about relaxing them, particularly when golf needs an injection of new blood?

TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., did so more than a decade ago, when it allowed jeans in the clubhouse after members voted in favor of the move.

“It has been a huge, positive impact for our club,” said General Manager Alan Cull, who believes it’s helped grow and retain membership. “I had people come up to me and say, ‘I work all day in a suit, and the last thing I want to do is dress up in a suit and come to the club to get a cheeseburger.’”

However, the move has not been welcomed by all. Some believe the look is too informal, he said. But those members have little choice but to accept it, he said, given the transformation of the private club. His, like many, are welcoming to families, and it can be vibrant and noisy.

Read the rest of the story in the free Nov/Dec digital issue of Golf Inc. Magazine here. 

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