Ok, I admit it: I HATE dress codes. That’s not to say that I, a natural scruff who has learned to scrub up well enough if the occasion demands, disapprove of all dress codes but when it comes to golf and dress codes, my blood starts to boil. I love this game but sometimes the people who play it do it – and themselves – no favours.
The last time my club revised the “dress standards” I was on the sub-committee but my influence was minimal after I suggested that we abolish the dress code for a year and wait for the sky to fall in….No one else was willing to take the risk, preferring instead to devote a large chunk (that nearly came out as junk!) of their time to devising an up-to-date list (denim allowed but no stonewashed or torn jeans, no matter how expensive the label or how stylish the wearer) that is long, comprehensive and, frankly, smacks of control-freakery.
It’s probably preferable that most of us wear clothes on the course but, honestly, what is it with all this micro-managing? This obsession with the minutiae of socks (length, colour), collars (more or less the sine qua non if you wish to play golf at most clubs), flip-flops (not plastic or rubber, so vegans beware), shorts (tailored, not baggy, sports or beach). All men must wear their shirts tucked in – a hard ask for a lot of them, especially in the heatwave conditions the other week – and of course the shirts must have sleeves. Women are permitted to wear shirts outside their waistband only if said shirt was designed to be worn in that manner and we are allowed to go sleeveless, even if our upper arms have given up the unequal struggle against gravity.
One must, I suppose, be grateful for small mercies.
Like Maureen, who gets even hotter under the (apparently obligatory) collar on this subject than I do, I think that the only thing that really matters is that people behave civilly on the golf course and in the clubhouse. And that has very little to do with what someone is wearing or how many tattoos they have. I’d replace the pompous, long-winded dress code notices with large-print notices quoting the etiquette section from the Rules of Golf. Adhere to those, repair pitch marks, rake the bunkers – and leave the rakes somewhere sensible, NOT plonk in front of the bunkers whatever you do – and show a bit more courtesy to your fellow golfers instead of wasting your time finding fault with the attire of others. Celebrate diversity in golf instead of insisting on your own version of uniformity. Park your preconceptions and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
When I was ladies’ captain (they were desperate), I toyed with the idea of having a “bring your goth grandchild to golf day” but we couldn’t round up enough goths to make a go of it. I’m sorry about that. And I’m sorry I couldn’t invite the two lads who played behind Dai and me in Tahiti. Dai was in his shorts (tailored), long socks (admittedly sensible, for the protection of pale calves) and collared shirt (don’t believe he owned a tee shirt). Behind us were two good-looking lads giving this game of golf a go, hitting the ball miles, not necessarily in the right direction. They were wearing singlets, shorts (beach variety) and flip-flops and they looked more at home than we did.
Dai and some of his mates were once thrown off the course at Boldmere (a Birmingham muni) because one of them was wearing wellies – it was very wet – and the pro objected to this desecration of his sacred turf. Actually, what he really objected to was the racket they made on the 1st tee when the wellie wearer, later our man in Venezuela (or somewhere South American) but no golfer, took his opening swipe and the ball, following a hitherto unknown golfing trajectory, ended up in one of his wellies. Collapse – and ultimate dismissal – of all parties.
I have friends – including at least one late-to-golf brother-in-law – who couldn’t disagree with me more on this subject – and will no doubt be appalled that the speaker of the House of Commons has just said that it’s no longer essential for MPs to wear ties (women of the House rejoice). A sign of standards slipping (order, order) or just a recognition of changing times?
There’s nothing welcoming or encouraging about the Talibanesque “no this, no that, no the other” approach of the typical golf dress code and who’s the real loser if a family coming home from a day out – or the supermarket – keeps on driving past the golf club because they’re wearing jeans, trainers and tee shirts?