Do Golf Courses Have Dress Codes?

Proper Golf Attire to Meet the Dress Code Most (Not All) Golf Courses Have

Golfers in collared shirts and golf shorts usually meet strict dress codes
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Many golf courses do have dress codes. But not all of them. Many municipal golf courses do not have dress codes—except, of course, in the sense that you must be dressed! (No shirt, no service.)

Dress codes vary in strictness depending on the policies of the golf course that you are playing. A good indicator of whether there is a dress code is the price of the course you plan to play. The higher the green fees, the more likely there is to be a dress code for golfers.

In general, a collared shirt and Dockers-style shorts or slacks will get you onto most golf courses (additionally, golf skirts or skorts for women). Many lower-priced courses also permit denim shorts or blue jeans.

But most upscale courses require collared shirts and have a no-denim rule. A very small number of (mostly private luxury) courses even have no-shorts rules, requiring golf slacks.

Don't let that scare you off from golf, though: If you want to play golf in gym shorts and a tank top, there is probably a golf course in your area where you can do that. Ask your friends who golf or make some calls.

(Also note that some upscale golf courses are beginning to experiment by going without dress codes as a way of appealing to a wider range of golfers—as a way of increasing business, in other words. Strict dress codes are less common than they used to be, but still common in the sometimes stuffy world of golf.)

Does the Course That You're Playing Have a Dress Code?

How do you know whether you need to dress in slacks, or buy a nice pair of shorts, and wear a shirt with a collar, or, if you're female, whether a sleeveless golf top is acceptable? If you're planning on playing a golf course you've never been to before, and you're unsure of its dress code, call ahead. Don't assume—always call ahead. Golf courses will turn away golfers who show up without meeting the dress code if there is one in place (or you can choose to buy expensive pro shop golf apparel in order to bring yourself up to the course's standards).

Also, never assume that just because you've seen a professional golfer wearing a particular piece of clothing that the same clothing on you will pass muster at all golf courses. Again: call ahead and ask if you have any uncertainty. Otherwise, you might show up only to be told, "sorry, Tiger Woods can wear mock turtlenecks on the PGA Tour, but here you have to have a collar on your shirt." Or, "sorry, John Daly can wear those ridiculous pants on the PGA Tour, but you can't wear them here."

We know, a collar on a shirt doesn't sound like much, but if the course requires collars and you show up in a t-shirt, you'll either be buying a collared shirt in the pro shop or heading home.

So: Know before you go. Call ahead if you have to. Or check the course's website; many include information about what they define as proper golf attire.

What About Golf Shoes?

Most golf courses have outlawed metal spikes. Make sure you're wearing golf shoes with soft spikes or other non-metal golf cleats; or wear a soft-soled shoe of some other type (tennis shoes, for example—never anything with a hard heel). The higher up you go in green fees, the more likely a course will be to require its customers to wear golf-specific shoes.

Take a Look at Current Golf Apparel Options

To recap: Yes, many golf courses—especially non-municipal courses—do have golf dress codes. If you wear a shirt with a collar and Dockers-style pants or shorts, you'll meet the dress code of 95-percent of courses. But always call ahead before playing a new course and ask for the specifics.

Want to see what golfers are wearing these days? A good way to get a sense of the current trends in golf fashion is to browse the websites of a major golf retailers. You'll see the many different options, some traditional, some more daring or more colorful or designed to appeal to a younger, edgier fashion sense that golf apparel companies are now making. You'll also familiarize yourself with the brands and the prices for which they sell. TGW, Golf Galaxy, PGA Tour Superstore and Global Golf are of few of the major online retailers. Big-box sporting goods stores such as Dick's Sporting Goods and Academy, as well as Amazon and Walmart, are other options for browsing.