What Should You Wear Golfing? Do’s and Don’ts for Men & Women


I recently played golf with an old friend of mine who had not played for 15 years or so. As we checked in with each other the day before to finalise arrangements he asked me what he should wear and whether any rules had changed. Having played golf regularly since I was 5 I must confess I had not consciously thought about this for a long time!

So, I did some brief research just to check I wasn’t going to embarrass us both by telling him the wrong thing!

What should men and women wear golfing? Male golfers should wear a collared polo shirt, long trousers or shorts to above the knee. Women golfers can wear collared polo shirts, sleeved or sleeveless blouses, with trousers, knee length skirts or shorts, capri pants or skorts. Socks and soft spike or spikeless golf shoes are also needed.

Now I know what you are thinking. I’ve seen golfers at different courses and on the TV and they have been wearing all sorts of things definitely not on that list.

That is undoubtedly true, and the reality is what you can wear very much can depend on where you are playing and what the rules of that venue are.

If you follow the main do’s and don’t below though you are unlikely to go wrong on almost any golf course and may indeed set a new golfing fashion trend without even meaning to!

The Key Do’s and Don’ts of What to Wear Golfing

The main thing to think about when considering what to wear on a golf course is whether or not you look presentable and relatively smart.

If you do it is likely you are not going to go far wrong but just to make sure here is a table of the key do’s and don’t for male golfers.

MEN GOLFERSDO’SDON’TS
Upper body1. Collared polo shirt – long or short sleeve – or turtleneck. And it is etiquette to tuck it in.
2. A vest, sweater, light jacket or wind shirt are all options if more layers are needed.
No T-shirts or sports jerseys.
No tracksuit tops.
No big banner or foul language advertisements on back or front.
No denim jackets or sweatshirts.
Lower body1. Smart long trousers or slacks with belt loops – e.g. Chinos or khaki. You don’t have to wear a belt but it typically makes you look smarter.
2. Shorts which fall just above your kneecaps.
Avoid jeans unless you know they are acceptable at the venue you are playing at.
No tracksuit trousers.
No three-quarter length shorts. With shorts, too long is considered sloppy.
No drawstring, soccer or running shorts.
Avoid gym shorts, cargo shorts, short shorts, or cut-offs.
Footwear1. Socks with trousers – Almost any standard sock is acceptable. You don’t want to notice your socks – i.e. don’t tuck your socks into your trousers!
2. Socks with shorts – wear socks, usually white, that go up to just below your ankle – i.e. low or no-show socks. Beware some courses (very few thankfully!) require long knee-high socks with shorts.
3. Shoes – Soft spike or spikeless golf shoes are best. If you do not have golf shoes a smart pair of sneakers or trainers will do but double-check with the course first.
No flip flops, thongs or sandals.
Avoid steel spike golf shoes. It is unlikely many golf courses will allow them due to the damage they do to greens but they can also be sore to wear after lots of walking.
Avoid work shoes with a heel as it can make an impression on the green and cause a mark that could throw a putt off-line.
HeadwearBaseball caps, visors and even cowboy or straw hats are all acceptable. No backwards caps
Avoid sombreros or large hats. They will not help you swing very well!
Extras1. Golf gloves – these are not required but golfers can find these help them grip the club better. Right-handed players wear gloves on the left hand and left-handed players wear gloves on the right hand.
2. Jewellery – wear tighter fitting, comfortable and durable jewellery. Bracelets, necklases or watches can all be worn but avoid expensive pieces as they can get damaged as you play.
3. And last but not least a golf bag. It is unlikely a golf course will allow you to carry a few clubs in your hand.
Avoid large and very noticeable jewellery. Do not wear large necklace chains outside your polo shirt for example. You won’t be able to swing very well for a start if you do!

For women golfers, the basic rules are pretty much the same and once again as long as you look smart you are likely to be ok.

There are some differences though based on additional clothing options female golfers have so here is a comprehensive list of the do’s and don’ts.

WOMEN GOLFERSDO’SDON’TS
Upper body1. Sleeved or sleeveless blouses with collars.
2. Collared polo shirt – long or short sleeve – or turtleneck.
2. A vest, sweater, light jacket or wind shirt are all options if more layers are needed
No T-shirts, halters, tank tops or sports jerseys.
No tracksuit tops.
No big banner or foul language advertisements on back or front.
No denim jackets or sweatshirts.
Lower body1. Capri pants, skorts (a combination of a skirt and shorts), or culottes are all acceptable.
2. Skirts where the bottom of the skirt doesn’t rise too far above the knee.
3. Smart long trousers or slacks with belt loops – e.g. Chinos or khaki.
3. Shorts again which are around knee length.
No sun dresses, sweat pants or tracksuit trousers.
No mini-skirts.
Avoid jeans unless you know they are acceptable at the venue you are playing at.
Avoid gym shorts, cargo shorts, short shorts, or cut-offs.
No drawstring, soccer or running shorts.
No leggings.
Footwear1. Socks – With shorts, skirts, capri pants or skorts, low (or no-show) socks are the most popular.
2. Socks with trousers – Almost any standard sock is acceptable.
3. Shoes – Soft spike or spikeless golf shoes are best. If you do not have golf shoes a smart pair of sneakers or trainers will do but double-check with the course first.
No flip flops, thongs or sandals.
Avoid steel spike golf shoes. It is unlikely many golfers will allow them due to the damage they do to golf greens but they can also be sore to wear after lots of walking.
Avoid work shoes with a heel as it can make an impression on the green and cause a mark that could throw a putt off-line.
HeadwearBaseball caps, visors and hats are all acceptable. No backwards caps
Avoid large hats. They will not help you swing very well!
Extras1. Golf gloves – these are not required but golfers can find these help them grip the club better. Right-handed players wear gloves on the left hand and left-handed players wear gloves on the right hand.
2. Jewellery – wear tighter fitting, comfortable and durable jewellery. Bracelets, necklaces or watches can all be worn.
And last but not least a golf bag. It is unlikely a golf course will allow you to carry a few clubs in your hand.
Avoid large, very noticeable and expensive jewellery as they can inhibit your swing or get damaged as you play.

As mentioned there will be exceptions to these core do’s and don’ts at certain golf clubs. Also some of you will have noticed players like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have started wearing collarless polo shirts again for the simple reason that Nike tells them to and they make money.

So can you wear the same collarless shirt that they do? Probably but the safest options is always a collared polo shirt. Unless your sponsor demands you wear a collarless one of course!

Comfortable, Weather Appropriate, Golf Clothes Are Best

While you may think the most important thing is to keep up with the latest golfing fashion the key, in reality, is that it is most important that you feel comfortable on the golf course.

You need to be able to swing the golf club freely in whatever you choose to wear and potentially spend up to 4-5 hours walking around a course.

So select clothes that breathe well, you can be active in and don’t restrict your movement.

Like golf club design, golf clothes have developed hugely over the last 20 years or so.

I remember playing in thick, heavy polo shirts years ago which were boiling in the hot weather and could have doubled for a large tent they were so baggy but now there are lots of great options.

If you are playing in warm weather a synthetic material such as polyester microfiber will let sweat evaporate and keep you dry and cool. Avoid fibers that retain heat like wool also if it is hot.

If it’s a bit cooler cotton is always great to keep you feeling comfortable. Look also for form-fitting clothing that isn’t too loose, like my old tent-like polo-shirts, that will not restrict your swing movement.

If it is cold rather than cool, or wet, layers are the order of the day. A sweater, fleece vest, windbreaker or rain jacket are perfect. Under clothing such as polo or roll necks or even long underwear can keep you comfortable in the cold.

And don’t forget the woolly hat option for especially chilly days.

For the rain there are lots of options in water-resistant materials that will keep you dry but are also supple enough to let you swing the club well.

When it comes to the outer layers and especially rainwear fit is even more important than it is for regular golf clothes.

Oversized clothes are your enemy here as they will get in the way and not let you swing the golf club freely.

What to Wear Away From the Golf Course

One of the frustrating things I find about golf is that there in addition to the rules there are what you wear on the golf course there can then be yet more rules for what you should wear off the course.

So it can be important to check what you can wear off the course too before you arrive.

In some clubhouses, especially in the dining room, many golf clubs have a no jeans, no trainers and hats off policy. Some of the oldest golf clubs in the world also can have rooms where you can only go in if you are wearing a jacket and tie.

There will usually be other rooms where you can go for something to drink and eat after your round which are much more casual but it is worth checking before you arrive.

Thankfully on the driving range, where alot of golfers go to practice, there are unlikely to be any rules (beyond what is allowed according to public decency of course!) about what you can wear.

So when you hit the range to hone your game you can throw all the do’s and don’ts out of the window and just wear what you want.

And that goes too for any practice in the comfort of your own home!

It’s OK to Make a Golfing Fashion Statement

As I mentioned above there has been a huge advance in the golf clothing options available to players over the last number of years.

Some professionals, such as John Daly, have indeed made it their trademark to wear some outlandish clothing on the course. Others, such as the Royal and Awesome clothing company, have made it their stock in trade!

One thing to bear in mind though if you do want to make a fashion statement on the golf course.

Maybe make sure you are playing well! Some outlandish clothing will likely draw you some extra attention as you hit your first tee shot in front of the clubhouse so you don’t want to hit a bad one if a few extra people are watching you!

The main rule of thumb though as we have said is if in doubt call the golf course where you are going to play but do not worry too much. If you look casual and smart and feel comfortable and you will be fine.

And remember where you are playing golf is all-important when it comes to deciding the dress code for the day. At a practice driving range as we have noted you can wear whatever you want!

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Related questions

Are leggings appropriate for golf? Though some golfers, such as Michelle Wie, have worn leggings under her skirts the LPGA sent an e-mail to players in July 2017 advising leggings were not permitted. If in any doubt call the golf course where you are due to play to confirm their dress code rules.

Can I wear jeans to golf? Many courses do not allow golfers to wear jeans when playing or in the clubhouse. Some do however so it is not an absolute rule and can be checked at each course. Wearing comfortable clothes is critical for golf though and most players find jeans too tight and uncomfortable to wear when golfing.

Graeme Hay

Graeme Hay is the owner of GolfingFocus.com. Graeme started playing golf when he was only 4 years old and has loved the game ever since. A single figure golfer all of his adult life he lives in London and still enjoys playing whenever he can with friends and family.

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