The New Rules of Golf EtiquetteDecember 13, 2016

Attire: Backwards hats, denim, and untucked shirts

What you wear in golf often reflects your attitudes about the game. Are you a stickler for tradition, or are you willing to let your shirt tail flap in the wind? Our general feeling about golf style is that in the same way people don't wear coats and ties to get on airplanes anymore, the game needs to embrace a more casual vibe, particularly at public facilities looking to attract a wider audience. That said, there's a line to be drawn about respecting a course's existing rules. Where can you and can't you push the envelope? Here's where we can provide some clarity.

Is it OK for me to wear my hat backwards?
For some reason people wearing their cap’s bill in the opposite direction can cause some folks to have heart palpitations -- and we’re pretty sure it’s got nothing to do with proper sun protection. But as much as a backwards hat is an affront to the establishment, we’re OK with it. We might not recommend it walking in the front gate of Augusta National, and frankly, if you’re older than 35, you risk looking a bit foolish regardless. But this is a common look of modern style. If it’s part of yours, have at it.

But can I play in jeans?
It remains a mystery why you can’t play in denim jeans but you can play in five-pocket trousers. They’re essentially the same pants, save for a specific type of fabric. But we’re getting there. Our feeling on denim is you should feel free to practice in it and wear it in the clubhouse, and at most laid-back facilities, you can even wear jeans for a proper round. Like backwards hats, there’s a time and a place, so at some more traditional clubs, this will continue to be a no-go. But over time, we’d like see everyone lighten up.

I want to play in flip-flops. Is that cool?
Are you sure about that? Golf might not be full-court basketball, but the game does require enough foot support to make a turn and follow through, none of which are easy with shoes that offer no structure. Then there’s the whole looking at your toes thing. We’re all about being casual, but for some people, there’s a line. In our views, flip-flops are OK for the locker room, but everywhere else, we'd prefer golf shoes, or even running or tennis shoes.

OK, but I’m done tucking my shirt in!
If you’re insistent on wearing your shirt untucked, that’s fine provided you’re wearing a shirt that’s meant to be worn that way. Don’t think it matters? Try again. The typical golf shirt is meant to tuck into pants, so to wear one out basically looks like you’re wearing a pillowcase. Shirts designed to be untucked, meanwhile, taper toward the bottom, making a casual look work.

Back to The New Rules of Golf Etiquette


WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS