Golf's dress code debate is back with a bang. This time we’re talking about golfers wearing hoodies, instead of shooting 69s.
Where’s Denis Pugh when you need him?
Opinion seems to be split on BMW Championship leader Tyrrell Hatton wearing a hoodie. Some seem to think he’s committed the ultimate sin. You’d have thought he’d walked out on the Wentworth West course in just a thong.
Pugh, who’s coached Colin Montgomerie and Francesco Molinari among others, was a champion of banishing dress codes when he was active on Twitter. He took a bashing for it. So much so he’s not now on the platform. Shame, because I would love to have heard his thoughts about those saying Hatton was out of line.
As I wrote in May, the world didn’t come to an end when David Duval wore a collarless shirt at the start of the noughties. Allowing European Tour players to wear shorts in practice rounds didn’t stop golf fans from attending European Tour practice rounds.
It’s been four years since Darren Clarke petitioned the European Tour to allow his players to wear shorts during the 2016 EurAsia Cup because of the stifling heat of Kuala Lumpur. Yet four years on its normal for Euro Tour players to practise in shorts but not wear them in tournament rounds. Other tours have followed suit. Even the traditionally conservative R&A decreed last year that players could wear shorts in practice rounds. Quite why men can’t wear shorts in competitive rounds as the top women do is beyond me. There’s no valid reason other than centuries of tradition.
Golf’s ridiculous dress code is why some are venting about Hatton wearing a hoodie. Those objecting are probably the same ones who complained when clubs finally relented and let members wear ankle stocks instead of knee length ones.
How many prospective players has our game lost because of silly dress code rules? Hard to say, but here’ a true story, told to me by the then club secretary, that caused a club on England’s South coast to change tack on its dress code.
A party of 20 Swedish men were on a golf trip to England and phoned the club to enquire about tee times. Everything was going well until the secretary told them about the club’s dress code on shorts, which mandated knee-length socks. That was the deal breaker. The Swedes decided they didn’t want to pack football socks and went elsewhere.
The club’s dress code rule cost it valuable visitor fees. The secretary in question had been trying for years to get the club to relax its dress code. Guess what? When he told the committee the club had lost business, the committee relented and decided to allow members and visitors to play in ankle socks.
One isolated incident yes, but how many potential members/customers/golf equipment buyers did the game lose because people were turned off by having to wear long socks, jackets and ties just to enter club houses, not being allowed to wear trainers, etc.
Grow the game is the oft repeated mantra we’ve been hearing for years. We’re not going to do that if we don’t appeal to a wider demographic, especially younger players who want to dress as casually as possible. This summer, Catriona Matthew’s daughter was asked to leave the clubhouse of the club she’s a member of because she wasn’t dressed in appropriate shorts.
You just couldn’t make this sort of stuff up.
As coach Jonathan Yarwood tweeted:
“Dear Golf, it’s 2020 not 1920. Yes, that’s a hoodie and it’s a modern item of clothing that is worn by a younger demographic. A demographic you need to attract in order to grow and survive. It’s progress. You can’t afford to be exclusive any more, be inclusive. Embrace change.”
I totally agree. Pretty sure Pugh does too. It’s time to consign golf’s dress code to the Victorian era.
To paraphrase David Cameron, it's time to hug a golf hoodie.
#JustSaying: “We should be allowed to wear shorts. God almighty, women are allowed to wear them, and we’ve got better legs than they do.” Greg Norman