Why Do Golf Courses Have Dress Codes in 2024?

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Golf has gained over 2 million beginners every year, for the past 8 years running.

With global entertainment venues like TopGolf bringing an unprecedented amount of exposure, the sport has the opportunity to explode in popularity.

But, why do golf courses still have dress codes?

Not only do beginners have to invest in equipment, but they’re also forced to buy new clothes to play a round. So, is this limiting the growth of the sport?

In this article, you’ll learn why some golf courses have dress codes, and why others are relaxing their requirements to make the game more accessible.

Why Do Golf Courses Have Dress Codes?

Golf courses have dress codes as it’s a game steeped in tradition, dating back to the sport’s official inception in 18th-century Scotland. However, every golf course has its own rules on dress code. Usually, the dress code seeks to achieve a sense of professionalism, maintaining the reputation of the club.

golfer taking a swing

The Origin of the Golf Dress Code

Golf was first created on the eastern coast of 15th-century Scotland when local players would hit a pebble over sand dunes using a bent stick, according to Historic UK.

Although, golf didn’t become an official sport until 1744 when the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith formed the first-ever club and created an annual competition with prizes.

Given its location in the cold, wet, and wind-swept Scottish climate, the original golf dress code was composed of formal suits with thick tweed jackets.

Safe to say, modern golf attire has evolved significantly!

With professional golfers required to perform at a higher level of athleticism, golf attire has become more lightweight, comfortable, and appealing to wear.

However, dress codes remain in place at many golf courses to embody a sense of elegance and professionalism, respecting the origins of the game.

the origin of the golf dress code
An early 19th-century depiction of golf on St Andrews Links, Scotland.

Do Public Golf Courses Have Dress Codes?

Most public golf courses have dress codes. However, the dress codes are often much less strict than those issued at country clubs and premium venues.

Often, you’ll comply with most dress codes at golf courses around the world with a pair of black or khaki chinos, along with a sport polo.

For instance, Barona Creek Golf Club lists the following simple dress code:

  • Men: Shirt with a collar. Shorts are fine, Bermuda length.
  • Women: Sleeveless shirts must have a collar. Shirts with sleeves can be crew neck style. No t-shirts.

With regard to shoes, soft spikes or tennis shoes are ideal and are accepted anywhere.

Ultimately, the safest thing to do is to have a presentable golf outfit that is likely to be accepted at any golf course — regardless of whether it’s a public course.

do public golf courses have dress codes

Are Collared Shirts Required at Golf Courses?

Often, collared shirts are required at golf courses for both men and women. This is because they bring a level of consistency and professionalism to the game.

Some golf dress codes are more lenient for ladies, occasionally allowing tops without collars. Although, you should check with the club beforehand as it can depend.

Usually, you should expect to have to wear a collared shirt at the course. Fortunately, many collared sports polos are lightweight and breathable, while looking smart.

My favorite golf top is the Adidas Primegreen Polo Shirt. It’s a simple, breathable, and lightweight polo, which also features UPF+30 protection for sunny days.

And don’t worry — for those cold or rainy days on the golf course, you’re not expected to have a collared sweater or jacket. Standard sports sweaters are generally accepted, as are weatherproof jackets like this Adidas Rain Jacket.

are collared shirts required at golf courses

Why Can’t You Wear Jeans on a Golf Course?

Usually, jeans aren’t allowed on golf courses because they look too casual. Golf attire is designed to look professional, as it maintains the reputation of the club.

While jeans aren’t permitted in most cases, you are allowed to wear chinos. Although, I highly recommend you invest in a pair of these Adidas Primegreen Golf Pants. They’re made with a super comfortable and breathable stretch material while looking smart.

Nevertheless, some golf courses have opted for a more casual dress code approach in order to attract more newcomers to the sport.

For instance, Barona Creek Golf Club allows denim pants or shorts as long as they are in good condition, without rips, tears, holes, stains, or excessive fading.

If unsure, give the club a call beforehand to check their individual dress code policies.

why can't you wear jeans on a golf course


To conclude, many golf courses have dress codes as a means of recognizing the tradition and history of the sport, while maintaining a sense of professionalism.

Usually, golf dress codes are fairly simple:

  • Men: Shirt with a collar. Shorts are fine, Bermuda length.
  • Women: Sleeveless shirts must have a collar. Shirts with sleeves can be crew neck style. No t-shirts.

If you’re in any doubt, contact the club beforehand. Remember, dress codes are simply there to prevent golfers from turning up in excessively casual gear.

Ultimately, you should try and put together an outfit that will be suitable for any golf course. This gives you one less thing to worry about when turning up at a new club.

Besides — look good, play good!

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Hailing from the South West of England, Jake has been playing golf for over a decade. He founded Pitchmarks with the aim of helping everyday golfers like himself learn more about the game, through instructional content and honest gear reviews. He has a degree in Architecture and a passion for golf course design, along with a lofty goal to play the world's top 100 courses.