The image of what a golfer is supposed to look like is ever changing. As golfers become more fitness-minded and golf apparel brands are developing more fashion-forward looks, outfits are inevitably becoming more casual and less khaki. Dress codes continue to loosen, shirts are being worn untucked and even shorts can be spotted at certain PGA Tour events. Players like Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas continually push the boundaries of what golf fashion can really be.
One trend that has been popular in fashion but slow to hit golf is hoodies. It's a staple that has been seen on runways and in fashion magazines, celebrated for being ultra-comfortable, versatile and a great way to add a little warmth. But is golf ready to embrace the hooded sweatshirt? We asked four Golf Digest editors to weigh in and the results were mixed, scaling from "I wore one this weekend" to "golf as a reflection on our better selves, cannot peacefully coexist with hoodies."
Opinion 1: Hoodies are absolutely acceptable to wear playing golf
"For far too long, golf has been in the business of telling people what they can’t do, what they can’t say, what they can’t wear. If you truly love this game and want to grow this game, inclusion is the best way to do that. Wear a hoodie, wear skinny jeans, wear a throwback basketball jersey for all I care. Who gives a crap? There’s also the simple fact that hoodies look cool on the golf course, so long as the hood doesn’t impact your swing, which is a legitimate concern. Assuming it doesn’t, there’s something icy about an all-black hoodie and a pair of slim-fitting athleisure pants. This is actually my preferred golf outfit—it’s comfortable, it’s sharp, and it’s distinctly un-golfey. Justin Thomas has pulled it off on Tour, and I recently saw Sam Ryder wearing one at Riviera, and he was most certainly the best dressed player in his group. If you really want to PWN the boomers, pair the hoodie with a pair of joggers. Just be prepared for the outrage." —Staff Writer, Daniel Rapaport
Opinion 2: It's fine as long as you find the right one
"I remember a kid once getting chewed out at Neumann, my public track in Ohio, by the club pro for wearing a hooded sweatshirt to the driving range. I remember because that kid was me. It was an embarrassing incident, one I’ve tried to block from memory, yet one line from the dress down on my, uh, dressing down endures: “You don’t see those rags on the PGA Tour!” I don’t think I said anything, just nodded my head and apologized, because that’s what you do when you’re 13 and screamed by an adult. But 20 years later, I now have a response thanks to Justin Thomas.
Your eyes do not deceive you. That is Thomas, inarguably one of the best five golfers in the world, wearing a hoodie. In a Tour event. Held at Riviera, one of the best, and stuffiest, courses in the country. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we live in an era of informality, where shirts no longer have collars, vests look like bomb squad outfits and Rickie Fowler goes full Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas anytime he tees it up in Hawaii. Still, we concede a sweatshirt does seem to push the limits of casualness.
At least, at the Tour level. But—spoiler alert—we are not professionals, and thus should not be held to their standards. Besides, the game has enough barriers as is; clothing shouldn’t be an obstacle. So, are you allowed to rock a hoodie at the course? You’re damn right you can.
Before you raise your bunny hugs in celebration, a few matters to take into consideration. Similar to pullovers or quarter-zips, you want something that won’t impede your swing, something light. Understand this is somewhat counterintuitive—if you’re wearing one, obviously the weather is on the chillier side—but you also don’t want clothing weighing you down.
Moreover, you can be casual and chic. This is not the time for your high-school football jumper or merch you got at a Black Keys concert. Most golf apparel companies produce sweatshirts specifically for the sport, both stylish and swingable.
In short, 20 years later, I look forward to making my triumphant return to Newmann, hoodie in tow." —Staff Writer, Joel Beall
Opinion 3: Hoodies just aren't meant for golf
"My penchant for having somewhat conservative, boomer-like sports takes has earned me the “Old School Powers” (OSP for short) moniker around the Golf Digest office. I like many of baseball’s unwritten rules, I think fighting absolutely has a place in the NHL and I can’t stand the buddy-buddy nature of today’s PGA Tour. This makes me a perfect candidate to be the “hoodies do NOT belong on the golf course” opinion-haver. I do have that opinion, but not for any buttoned-up, country-club dress code reason you might think. I simply believe that the hoodie is restrictive in the golf swing. That could also be the mental midget in me. I’ve worn a hoodie once on the golf course, and the hood possibly getting in the way of my backswing is all I could think about. My mind is cluttered enough as it is when I play golf, so the last thing I need to do is add to that clutter with something I’m wearing. If the hoodie is what you’re into, have at it, but I’ll stick with my hoodless quarter zips for when it’s chilly out." —Assistant Editor, Chris Powers
Opinion 4: "Golf as a reflection on our better selves, cannot peacefully coexist with hoodies"
"Sometimes I weep for mankind. Its decline toward a post-apocalyptic nightmare haze of vapidity, despair and orchestrated indolence flickers by with examples that can only be described as having the cumulative effect of a thousand paper cuts to my soul. To wit:
Ellen’s Game of Games.
Bud Light Seltzer.
And, of course, hoodies, particularly hoodies in golf.
Now, I’ll grant you that hoodies are a thing. At least I’ll grant you that hoodies are a thing in the way that the CupPhone is a thing. Legitimized? Probably. Necessary or somehow an important addition to our lives? Please. My point is, golf as a reflection on our better selves, cannot peacefully coexist with hoodies. Would you meet your girlfriend’s parents wearing a hoodie? If you say yes, and said hoodie is not the one issued by your high school’s cross country team, of which you are a current member and from whose practice you’ve just emerged after taking a shower and otherwise cleaning yourself up, then we have nothing to talk about. Ever. You, sir, are a slob, a slouch, what the Brits occasionally might call a chav. And, yes, I’m looking at you, lord of tools, Mark Zuckerberg.
Seriously, though, aspire to greatness in even the little things and you will be surprised at how quickly greatness becomes your standard. I’m not suggesting everybody dress on the golf course like Ben Hogan, circa 1953—but it did kind of work out, didn’t it? I’m not even saying don’t wear a hoodie when playing golf. I’m saying imagine yourself as substantial enough of a human being that your wardrobe has advanced past the point where your mom was tying your shoes.
If you’re cold, buy yourself a damn sweater. Cashmere, of course." —Senior Editor, Mike Stachura