Ok, so here we go – my own personal rant and rail against some of the people who play this sport that I love and which has given me a great life.  This has been a slow burn of a rant encompassing decades of staying mum, saying nowt and not wishing to upset anyone.  No longer!  Put it down to the soaring summer temperatures if you like, but really it’s more to do with the fact that I cannot believe the amount of time wasted and number of people upset by the ludicrous dress rules that litter the golf clubs around the country.

Why must golf be the preserve of those with a certain kind of wardrobe?

Let me point out that we do actually live in the 21st century so let’s scotch the “upholding tradition” nonsense.  If we were, indeed, “upholding tradition” the women would be playing in long skirts and blouses with leg ‘o mutton sleeves and the men in plus fours and jackets.  Sports clothing is much more technical nowadays, with a closer fit for freedom of movement and comfort.  It is designed with you playing your sport in mind.  But wait, is golf a sport?  No, it can’t be – numerous clubs don’t allow you to wear trainers in the clubhouse.  Hmm, tricky that, because if you go to America, you’ll see nothing but trainers worn in the golf clubs.

Right, let’s deal with the other patronising argument of those who are the authors of these ridiculous dress rules – the “we-must-keep-up-standards” brigade.  Piffle!  I am waiting for someone to tell me what wonderful qualities a collar on your shirt imbues you with – and what on earth does a tee shirt do that turns you into a poor excuse of a human being, an undesirable, no less?  The ONLY standards that the game must strive to hold on to are those of behaviour and is it too much to ask that we all try to be nice to each other?  I have witnessed appalling behaviour on the course from those who would be deemed to be properly dressed – some standards they uphold!

Any time you start listing articles of clothing and itemising acceptable and unacceptable garments you are gunning for trouble.  Just what is the obsession with forcing conformity on us all and just what are these custodians of our wardrobes afraid of?  You know, not many folk look in the mirror in the morning and think, “Right, it’s the monthly medal today.  How can I make the very worst of myself?”

And do not get me started on socks!  What length?  What colour?  Men can’t wear sports socks (footsies) with shorts?  Oh dear, oh dear!

I am not going to name names or clubs (unless you really want me to) but here is a selection of what I have come across as I criss cross the country:

  •  One club had THREE committee meetings to decide if one of their women members could wear coloured socks as opposed to the recommended white.
  • One of my pupils came to me for a lesson in a round-necked cashmere jumper – very classy.  She said she’d have to return home to change before going to her golf club.  No collar, you see.  I thought it interesting she thought it was good enough to come to me for a lesson in!  I was teasing her, of course, but she went home and changed.
  • Some young (good) golfers were working on their putting on the practice green.  The older members on the terrace decided they’d need a “quiet word” with one lad who was wearing a tee shirt.  Said young lad could beat any of them – politely and courteously – with one hand behind his back.

Footwear, sockwear, length of shorts, type of trousers, shirts inside or out, collar or no, hatwear – we are bedecked with rules, rules, rules.  All for a sport that is supposed to fill our leisure time with fun and friendships.  At its best this is controlling, at its worst it’s not far short of bullying.  And what is the point of it all?  Take a look around the world – we have far bigger problems than if someone wears flip-flops into the clubhouse – and do you know how expensive some flip-flops are?  And golf certainly has eminently more pressing concerns.

As it stands, the very best women players in the world wouldn’t get across the thresholds of most clubs in the UK.  That can’t be right.

But, in case you think I’m just having a tilt at the home clubs, I ‘m posting a picture of my good friend Karen Stupples’ 9-year old son, Logan.  Karen, as you will recall, won the Women’s British Open in 2004 and is now a commentator with The Golf Channel and based in the States.  This is what Logan was wearing when denied access to a public golf facility near their home.

Some eejit of a jobsworth presumably saw only a tee shirt without a collar.  I see a well-turned out lad with a lovely golf swing in a shirt that’s a striking shade of blue.  I see a young lad who should be welcomed into our sport.

What do you see?