Well this feels like a huge step in the wrong direction. I’m trying really hard to understand how this is good for the game of golf. I have spent pretty much every day for the last year working to try to change the sport for the better. At Thirty6ix, it is our mission to show golf in it’s true beauty. To prove to those who believe the stigmas surrounding the game that they are not true. To prove that golf is cool, that golf is inclusive, and most importantly, to prove that golf is fun. We really want the game to grow, and these new rules are definitely not helping.
Statistics show that millennial participation in golf is on the decline. They show that millennials think of the game as strict, with a laundry list of rules they don’t understand in regards to attire and conduct. If they were participating in any other outdoor recreational activity, they wouldn’t be wearing business casual clothing.
So it all begs a question- in a time where the game desperately needs to move toward a more casual, chilled outattitude, why the heck is the LPGA enforcing stricter rules about dress?
Professional basketball players are no less professional than golfers, but they manage to get along fine wearing athletic shorts and cut-off t-shirts. Olympic swimmers are professionals, and they wear nothing but speedos on the job. You don’t hear anyone complaining about their dress code- imagine swimming in a knee-length skirt. Even in professional tennis, a sport that is commonly grouped into a similar category as golf, the female competitors can wear sleeveless tops and athletic-length bottoms. These uniforms are designed to help the athlete perform to the best of their abilities.
“I’ve never before seen an LPGA outfit that even bordered on questionable.”
The women playing on the LPGA Tour are really damn good. Their level of play speaks to professionalism in every sense of the word and it doesn’t need to be defended by high necklines and collared racer-backs. They should be allowed to wear clothing that they are comfortable in. They should be wearing clothing that they feel allows them to the best of their ability, and to feel good doing it. Comfort and freedom go a long way in golf. Anyone who has played the game knows that having a relaxed mindset is key to solid performance. I’m not suggesting bikini’s during competition, but I’ve never before seen an LPGA outfit that even bordered on questionable. In fact, a quick google search of ‘questionable lpga outfits’ doesn’t even bring a single valid hit. Those ladies are already classy AF.
The LPGA players are huge influencers for the sport of golf. Professionals wearing skirts from the 60’s don’t relate the same way to millennials as players wearing athletically designed clothing. Superstars we can’t relate to don’t bring people to the game. Lame outfits definitely don’t bring people to the game. And most importantly, more rules do not bring people to the game.
This opens up a much broader discussion about dress codes in general. Why are they still so strict? With all the progression, liberalism, and acceptance that is present in our society- why does a sport played outdoors require more formal attire than most modern offices? We are literally swinging sticks at balls.
For those millennials that are thinking about taking up the game now, the traditions are much less meaningful, while the stigmas are much more restraining. Who, in their mid-twenties, wants to start a hobby where there are rules governing how you’re supposed to swing a stick at a ball and chase after it. A round of golf can be as casual as showing up after work to see how many holes you can get in before dark, and the players choice of apparel shouldn’t be any different.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the old collared shirt. I’m just saying that if you want to play golf in a t-shirt or a tank top, go ahead. Shirtless even, if that’s your thing. You can still replace your divots and fix your ball marks. You might forget sometimes, but at least you’re making the effort.
It’s time to forge our own path and to play golf on our terms. It’s time to push past the stubborn traditions of our parent’s generation in order to create some modern traditions of our own. Millennials are leading the charge in so many different places in society and producing incredible positive changes all over the world. There’s no reason we can’t introduce some of the positive progression to golf as well.
Regardless of what we’re wearing, the simple fact is we love to play golf. Respect the game, free the golfer.