Golf Dress Codes: What is the Code?

So what is the dress code now for playing golf? It use to be a collared shirt with the shirt tail tucked in for men and sleeveless shirt with a collar or collarless shirt with sleeves for women was the approved attire to be on the golf course and in the clubhouse…No Tank Tops, no cut offs, no denim what so ever.

What is wrong with that? It is the rule and everyone in this country is taught that if you don’t follow a rule or if you have a rule infraction there is a penalty that has to be paid. So what is the penalty and when is it going to be enforced?

Over the past five years I have seen a HUGE (or double XL as I have heard it described by the generation making the dress code infractions) decline in the enforcement of the above dress code polices which are at most golf facilities. Espically at the private country clubs. So why are the rules not enforced?

I ask these questions and so do the majority of Business Golfers. If you have been checking out my Podcasts, The Mr Business Golf Show, over on ClickCaster, then you have heard my point of view on this subject. But I still ask, is this the way people are to dress on the golf course in the future? Let’s hope not.

When using golf as a business tool there is a certain level of expectation that a professional environment is where the business golf is going to be played and is needed to accomplish your goal. If the room you are visiting with a client or employees after a round of Business Golf is full of men and women dressed like they were at a Pearl Jam Fan Club meeting, how does that reflect on you professionally.

Well, if your client was Pearl Jam it would be pretty cool, but lets say it is not…which is probably the case.

I can tell ya, it is not going to look very good that you picked a place to conduct business where there is no respect for the dress code policy. This is going to rub off on you in how your clients or customers or employees are going to think of you. If there is a less than causal atmosphere where you are playing Business Golf, then you are not going to get close to accomplishing your goal which now places you as just taking a client out for a round of golf instead of playing Business Golf.

From what I can tell there are two things causing this problem. First, the facility being held hostage by the members who say “if you want my membership dollar you are going to have to play by my rule and I will dress like I want to dress”, and secondly, the club’s management turning their heads because they do not want to take a hit on their club’s revenue by possibly losing a dues paying member.

So again I ask these clubs who are not enforcing their rules, is this the way people are going to dress to play golf in the future?

Because if this is the case, which I know it is at least at my club, maybe they need to rethink this for a moment. Weighing the different levels of revenue that is generated from membership dues, which is usually calculated with a standard 30% profit ratio, against the revenue generated from the food and beverage the business golfers members spend on top of the membership dues at the facility which is calculated at about 100% to 130% profit ratio, is a significant risk to take.

Now, I am not a CPA, but I am my CFO, and I can see that if I was managing a private country club with members not abiding and respecting the dress code rule that I would probably feel it worth hiring an entire staff to do nothing but enforce the rule to please the business members of the club. This might be a good investment, because if those business members take their membership and business to another club that club who feels it needs to turn its head to enforcing a clear rule is subject to losing far more revenue than they would from losing a few members who just pay dues and smokes a cigar at the club a few times a month…

So, wouldn’t you think that there would be some common scene demonstrated on this issue and make the rule apply to all? Let’s hope that the change back to enforcing dress codes at private country clubs is coming back, if for nothing else for the sake of the future of golf.

Scot Duke, President of Innovative Business Golf Solutions, provides over 31 years of corporate management experience to helping small businesses improve their marketing strategies. As author of: How To Play Business Golf, Mr. Duke outlines the steps to sucessfully using golf as a business tool. To learn more about Mr. Duke, IBGS or to purchase How To Play Business Golf visit



Filed under Blogroll, Business, Business Golf, Golf

3 responses to “Golf Dress Codes: What is the Code?

  1. I hope I’m wrong but I feel that dress code violations are only going to get worse before they get better. The problem starts with the fact that the dress code in golf is based on tradition and really not functionality and as golf over the last decade or more has “opened to the masses” tradition has been watered down. Perhaps the two main factors that add to the watering down effect are (similar theme to your previous restaurant post) lack of respect and manner in today’s society and also mismanagement on the part of golf courses.
    The original responsibility falls on the violators of the dress codes. Not adhering to the rules is a blatant statement that the person feels that they are more important then the others around them, they feel that general rules do not apply to them. This attitude is becoming rampant in all facets of life today. The second level of responsibility falls on the management at the facility, and more often then not this level also fails to uphold the traditions of golf. This breakdown is most common with golf course operators that base there policies on the over used service mantra of “the customer is always right”. What managers need to understand is, how can a customer who is either ignorant of the traditions of golf or could care less about those traditions be right?

  2. You know, I’m not a great dresser or am that concerned about clothes. BUT.. I’m also a strong believer that when there is a dress code, you have to stick to it.

    It’s kind of like driving on the right side of the road. I mean, there are times when if I were to just up and decide to drive on the left — I bet I could get to point “B” allot faster then staying on the right – but – 1. We are not in England, 2. It’s against the law.

    Allot of people have issues with authority, “the man”, and the general rules of common sense. In regards to the one comment about “the customer is always right”, that has alway gotten under my skin so to speak.

    That is like your last restaurant story, I’m sorry but there are times when the customer is not only wrong, but he or she is just being a rude person that was never taught a lesson in good common sense behavior.

    There is absolutely nothing “cool” about being rude and obnoxious or trying to break all the rules.

    Trust me – Rex Dixon – is not just an old dude that hates young people or something. I still have fun – BUT — Rex Dixon is one of those older guys that has been around the block a few times, and I’ll admit I’ve done some pretty stupid things in the past… but ALWAYS within the bounds of good common sense.


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