George Graham

Snobbery on the Links

The LPGA has imposed a new dress code that reeks of Victorian-era sexism and exposes the lingering snobbery in golf.

You might think that in the 21st century athletes could wear whatever they need in order to play their best. If they are bothered by a collar, for example, you might think they could just lose it (as Michelle Wie is doing in the accompanying photo).

But, according to a news item quoting Golf Digest Magazine:

LPGA Player President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman sent out an email to golfers on July 2 informing them that the dress code would be changing as of Monday, July 17. Goetze-Ackerman ticked off the items the women would no longer be able to wear on the green, including plunging necklines, joggers, leggings by themselves (they can be worn under shorts or skirts), and racerback tops without collars. “No collar = no racerback,” is the parenthetical used in the email.

According to the news item, the email adds (insultingly, in my opinion):

Skirts, skorts, and shorts must now be “long enough to not see your bottom area (even if covered by under shorts) at any time, standing or bent over.”

Obviously, the LPGA player president hasn’t watched tennis lately.  Women who play professional tennis don’t let outmoded prudery cramp their style. And I don’t think any normal person – male or female –  entertains prurient thoughts while watching those pros display their incredible skill.

Of course, England is still… well… English.

According to the news item:

Last week, Wimbledon enforced its all-white dress code so strictly that the tournament made a male tennis player Jurij Rodionov change his blue underwear.

The new LPGA dress code is even sillier. It even bans jeans.

I rarely wear jeans but I resigned from a golf club in Canada once when they banned jeans on the course. And – while I usually wear a collared shirt – any club that tells me I have to wear a collar isn’t going to get my greens fees.

Golf is in enough trouble without the addition of silly dress codes. There are no stars, just a lot of golfers who can hit the ball 300 yards or more off the tee. And yes, the women can hit their drives that far nowadays. Without a collar. And in jeans. Or joggers (whatever those are).

In the men’s game, there’s nobody like Tiger. Or Jack. Or Palmer, Trevino and Player. Those golfers were virtuoso performers. You marveled at their finesse. And their consistency.

The women’s game is suffering from the absence of American stars. Nearly all of today’s best LPGA performers are from Asia. I suppose that does a lot for the game’s popularity overseas, but it doesn’t do much to win fans at home.

TV audiences are dwindling. And the public is abandoning recreational golf.  It’s not just that Tiger is missing. It’s also the game’s stuffy image that turns off today’s youngsters.

The last thing the sport needs now is a snobby dress code.

Read the news item

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for