What you wear to play golf is a lot like what you wear to work. Golf has a dress code that can cover more ground than most employers ever bother to think about. Jackets, for example, are essential for playing golf, but not for working. On the other hand, pants are almost as important as jackets; you have to have them, when you’re at work, in case you happen to find the need for a drink during the day. Pants are also useful for working, although not nearly so much as jackets.
If you take your clothes seriously enough to play golf, it’s time to start worrying about golf clothes too.
Casual dress makes sense for putting, because the ball is rolling and you don’t care about it. But for hitting it is better to look like you’re playing golf than like you’re going to the beach.
The right clothes are khaki pants and a golf shirt of a color that stands out in the pine needles. Your shoes should be light and not have any metal studs or spikes, but they should also be a bright color that stands out in the pine needles.
If you are going to play well, you will want to look good. To look good, put on clothing that makes your body look as athletic as possible without making you look like Superman. If you want to look athletic, dress in such a way that your natural body shape is accentuated by the clothing. This requires some experimentation with what works best.
Golf is full of hazards, but you can’t walk on the green without clothes. Golfing without clothes is like playing tennis without a net.
The main hazards are dew, sunburn, and embarrassing stains. Dehydration can be avoided by drinking lots of water, but it’s important to drink every 15 to 30 minutes. Sunburn can be avoided by wearing sunscreen, but if you don’t have any decent sunscreen, it’s better to avoid playing golf in the first place. And embarrassing stains aren’t dangerous; they’ll just show up on your trousers for the rest of the day.
If you play golf with friends and are concerned about bad stains or sunburn, take turns being picky about what sort of clothes to wear. If you play golf alone, that’s another story: it’s usually best not to bother trying to dress for the weather when you’re alone at a golf course.
A lot of golfers wear the same thing every day, no matter what the course or the conditions. You see them in their golf carts or driving their golf carts all over the course. They wear the same clothes they always wear: polos, khakis and white socks. They must be a lot of fun to play with.
And yet it is a very bad idea to wear the same thing every day.
In general, you should choose your outfits according to what you are going to be doing in them for the next few hours. So for example if you are playing a round of golf with some friends, you might go with a shirt and slacks that have been pre-washed and ironed so that they don’t look too wrinkled. But if you are just heading out on your own for an hour or two before dinner, you might want to wear something casual but comfortable and easy to change into later if necessary.
If you’re serious about playing golf, there’s nothing you can wear that will help. If you’re not serious about playing golf, you can wear anything; it doesn’t matter.
There’s no reason to think golfers with different looks are better at the game than those with other looks. There may be a reason to think they’re worse, but we’ll never know because no one has ever tested this proposition.
In golf, shorts are worn primarily because they are comfortable. Shorts are also rather cool, and make it easy to stay hydrated. They also allow for a quick change from one club to another. But even if shorts seem an odd choice for playing golf, the most telling reason is that golfers don’t wear them in practice rounds.
Why not? Because golfers dislike the way their shorts look in practice rounds. “They just look ridiculous,” says Ernie Els, the world’s leading professional golfer (he has won more than 75 tournaments). “You have to have a nice pair of pants on under your shorts. And I don’t like those pants.”
You have to be comfortable in order to play well, and professional golfers tend to wear the same clothes all day. They are not wearing clothes made for comfort, they are wearing clothes designed by some form of fashion designer.
Professional golfers don’t wear shorts because they get hot; they wear them because they look good. And a lot of them wear white shirts with ties, even in the summer.
It’s the same with shoes: lots of them wear the same brand-name shoes, which are more expensive than any other kind of shoe but also lighter and more comfortable.
Why? For the same reason that runners wear those bright-colored shoes: it looks good.