Golf Course Attire and Etiquette in 2013

gd201306_cover_290The May June issue of Golf Digest arrived at my door step the other day (I love the Ipad version, but love the paper version more for some reason). As I do every month I have a quick flip through to see if any catches my eye. In this months issue there were a couple of good reads about the 2013 US Open site Merion Golf Club, but what really caught my eye was the letter from the editor and a couple of related articles on the state of the Game. Particularly interesting was the “New Code” article by Bob Carney, which combined with a recent Golf Digest survey on what is permitted and not permitted at courses around the country, paints a picture of a changing image of what golf and golf culture is in 2013. You’ll have to read the articles for yourself to get the details, but essentially courses around the US (and I would assume Canada), both public and private are loosening what they permit in terms of attire, technology and club house etiquette.

Since starting golf at the age of 10 I have more of less always been a club player, but always at a public/semi private club (I never really got the concept of semi-private). I spent my 4 years at University and a year afterwards as a public players, but that’s really about it (20 years of golf, 16 of them as a member of a club). I have never been a member of a club that really enforced any rules other than course dress code, which was always pretty loose.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to attire and club house etiquette. I never play without a collard shirt and “golf” shorts/pants, and my shirt is tucked in 99% of the time. I always remove my hat when entering the club house. I haven’t played golf in jeans … ever, but do wear them to dinner in the club house. I normally don’t wear golf shoes in the dinning room, but will put them on and take them off at my car in the parking lot (which is a no no at some courses). I do wear sandals in the club house on a regular basis (another no no at some courses).

When it comes to technology, I break every rule in the book. I use my iPhone to keep my score, take photos, tweet, and text during my round. My use of technology isn’t contained to the course either as I regularly tweet and text while in the club house, but would rarely take or make a phone call (similar to a restaurant) . I worked for a while in the sport of Squash, which spends a lot time in private clubs, and the ones with cell phone and “work” bans drove me nuts.

While this is how I go about my business at the course (when given the choice), I really think the best method to creating a respectable environment, for both the people and the game, is to let the customer use their common sense in determining what is appropriate when it comes to attire (but having procedures in place for when common sense fails). As for technology, I think putting rules in place to make sure no one is overtly disturbing others is a good thing, but I am not convinced the presence of a phone on the course or laptop in the club house is automatically a disturbance.

What are the rules at your club or if a public player, do club rules around attire, technology and etiquette impact where you play?

See you at the turn,



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