The Shorts Search
Why is it so hard to find the perfect pair of golf shorts for women?
No one can seem to agree on the best golf shorts for women, so we set out to figure out why
Almost every female golfer can all agree, finding the perfect golf outfit can be challenging. Finding the perfect go-to pair of women’s golf shorts? An even more seemingly impossible task. There is no female version of the typical male golfer uniform—those classic navy shorts and a striped golf shirt that every guy seems to have. Women are forced to be more inventive with their on-course looks–especially when it comes to golf shorts. The struggle is universal for most of us, so we set out to figure out why that is. In pursuit of finding out why the perfect pair of women’s golf shorts doesn’t exist, we did uncover a few recommendations to try for those who haven’t given up on the search.
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We first surveyed our female golfers on staff, and Staff Writer Keely Levins conveyed the group’s sentiment perfectly: “Ugh, I hate women’s golf shorts. Why is it so hard? Why can’t anyone figure this nightmare out?”
Most female golfers—our staffers included—have an old pair of golf shorts they’ve held onto for years and refuse to give up because they’ve never found a replacement good enough. For Levins, that’s the Puma PWRSHAPE Golf Shorts from 2019. They’re made with an ultra-stretchy fabric and a 4.5-inch inseam. They’re athletic-feeling with an upscale look. These shorts are not meant to be worn with a tucked-in golf shirt as the thick waistband extends a few inches above the hip line for a little extra shaping.
Puma’s women’s golf shorts lineup has gotten increasingly casual over the last few years. The brand’s most recent release is a track-short-like style with bold floral prints and golf shirts to match. These likely won’t become your go-to pair of golf shorts, but the matching separates trend is fun for casual rounds, resort golf or themed tournaments.
Several of the former college golfers on staff still swear by their team-issued Nike golf shorts. “Nike’s older pairs I wore in college were my all-time favorite, ” Nicole Rae, Senior Manager, Audience Development & Marketing says. “Other than my old pairs I still have, I just wear skirts now.”
Nike has since updated the 5-inch-inseam golf shorts to have mesh-lined pockets, stretchy fabric that is sweat-wicking and the pair is currently available in black, white and turquoise.
While around a 5-inch inseam length seemed to be the most popular in our office, there are some instances where a bit more coverage is needed. Levins has a pair with an 8-inch inseam saved just in case.
“I also have a pair of Tory Sport shorts which are great for the emergency, ‘I’m going to a club with a strict dress code where I have to wear long shorts’,” Levins says. “They’ve saved me from digging through my closet and having to wear old Bermuda shorts from Gap circa 2008.”
The Tory Sport Tech Twill Golf Shorts are currently sold out, but here are few longer options that are still stylish.
Inspired by the shots outfits from LPGA players like Danielle Kang and Jessica Korda, Levins’ has the Adidas Women’s Solid 5-Inch Golf Shorts on her shopping list. “I’ve been meaning to try these Adidas shorts because the women on tour sponsored by Adidas are always wearing them and they look cute—but they definitely get them hemmed.”
In addition to Kang and Korda’s stellar shorts looks, Lydia Ko is another player who makes wearing golf shorts look effortless on tour. With her current apparel partner, Korean brand Renoma, her looks have grown much bolder than we’ve typically seen from the 17-time LPGA winner. The fashion-forward tournament outfits include contrast collars, color blocking and a mix between monochromatic looks and pops of color.
Prior to signing with Renoma, she was often seen wearing lululemon shorts during tournament rounds for more athletic casual looks. Ko’s apparel evolution is a great example of how to be playful with golf apparel and inspiration to be fearless in trying out new golf looks. In both styles, she’s prone to stay with simple solids over bright prints—a great way to create golf-appropriate outfits with non-golf clothes.
Lululemon doesn’t have any golf-specific shorts currently in its collection, but many golfers flock to the Stroll at Sundown Shorts. These shorts can be tricky to find in stock, but keep an eye out for more inventory as temperatures increase. The lightweight shorts are extremely versatile with a mesh fabric that feels like a pair of gym shorts but upscale styling that make them golf-ready.
To get some more insight on why it can be so hard to find the perfect pair of golf shorts, we caught up with Foray Golf’s Megan LaMothe. To her, golf shorts are the eternal struggle both on the purchasing and designing side. While skirt length or rise can be easily adjusted on the body and golf pants have universally accepted lengths that are easy to hem, shorts are much more difficult to find a consensus in both fit and style.
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“The number one problem with designing shorts is that not one group of people can agree on the correct inseam,” LaMothe says. “But then the inseam is only as relevant as how short is constructed. With shorts, you are locked into the fit, there’s nowhere to hide.”
In addition to the length of the shorts, the circumference of the leg opening, gusset (insert seam between legs) positioning, pocket design and rise are all make-or-break factors that tend to have specific requirements for each body.
If the leg opening is too wide, it’ll create an unkempt, baggy look. But if it’s too tight, the squeeze will ruin the look and feel. Improper seam or gusset placement can make the shorts feel like a diaper or cause a perpetual wedgie, LaMothe says.
“There are so many technical measurements to get right in shorts that it’s almost impossible to make a pair that will make everyone happy, there is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to women’s shorts.”
Because every golfer’s body is unique and female golfers have a range of preferences when it comes to length and fit, the best advice is to take your measurements of the ideal inseam and work up the patience to try several pairs in the fitting room. Don’t be afraid to try new brands or styles. As long as the fabric is breathable and there is enough stretch to play golf in, you might find your next pair of golf shorts outside of the golf section.
Here are some of our favorite shorts to wear for golf that weren't necessarily designed for golf.
We also caught up with Renee Parsons, president and executive creative director for PXG Apparel, to learn more about the challenges in designing golf shorts for women. Parsons signed on to revamp PXG Apparel in 2018. Recent collections have been fashion-forward and versatile, with an obvious extra effort given to the women’s apparel side that has been full of flattering pieces with statement-making designs. According to Parsons, form and function are two of the top considerations when designing for PXG Apparel. With this in mind, she’s prioritized skirt and pant designs over shorts to match the demand in the industry.
“Finding the right fit for your body type and personal style is a challenge, and for that reason many women, myself included, choose to steer clear from shorts on the golf course,” Parsons says. “Both rise and inseam are important considerations when designing and shopping for shorts. As not all bodies are created equal, body type and height have everything to do with finding a good fit.”
Most women’s golf shorts are in the five- to seven-inch inseam range—that’s how long the short or pant is from the base of the zipper to the bottom of the leg opening. Fashion and athletic shorts typically have three-inch inseams and Bermuda lengths typically float around 9- to 11-inches. Typically, a short should end at the widest point of the thigh muscle. Since this point differs person to person, Parsons recommends trial and error when searching for shorts.
“When shopping, shorts are one of the pieces that need to be tried on,” Parsons says. “Golfers should go through the motions of swinging a club (even if you feel silly about it) in the fitting room to ensure the shorts move with you and don’t rub or ride up in an uncomfortable or unflattering way.”
The dressing-room struggle is why many women hold onto old pairs of golf shorts or stick to skirts, dresses or pants instead.