You can wear your jeans to church these days, but don’t wear them on the golf course. While clothing standards have relaxed in most areas of American life, golf still holds tightly to its own tradition of style and dress.
That is not to say that golf clothing has had no evolution. Players are no longer laboring under the heft and constriction of neckties, wool knickers and tweed suit jackets, but most courses have dress codes, and they do not subscribe to an “anything goes” mentality.
Collared golf shirts, golf slacks or long golf shorts are suitable for either sex. Women have a few additional options. They can go sleeveless (with a collar) and may wear a golf skirt (with shorts underneath), but modesty is always required. Bare midriffs are never allowed and some courses have a minimum requirement for inseams.
Modern fabrics that allow for full freedom of movement and those that wick moisture away from the body have greatly increased the comfort level of golf attire and brought it into the realm of athletic wear.
Now, whether you prefer the staid classics of argyles and khakis or a departure into bold colors and patterns—that is a matter of personal choice.
1. Wet-weather sportswear
Sometimes, you just have to play in the rain. Perhaps you signed up for a tournament, or it’s simply the only day you have available. It’s okay. There are ways around the weather.
There are numerous jackets on the market that are windproof, waterproof and breathable. But don’t forget the golf pants. Keeping your lower body dry will go a long way toward keeping you comfortable, especially if the air is chilly.
Most items of this nature have the added benefit of folding into a small package, so that you can stow them in your bag and have them readily available in the event of a surprise shower.
A waterproof hat with a wide brim is a great idea, as well as waterproof shoes. Golf shoes come in a wide variety of water resistant or waterproof styles, and they are not necessarily expensive.
You might also want to seriously consider a pair of “wet grip” gloves. They are invaluable when playing in the rain.
Dry and comfortable, you might even find you are able to ignore the rain, but stay alert. If you hear thunder or see lightening, it’s time to go.
2. Cold-weather gear
As tempting as it is to wear that big, heavy sweater your spouse gave you for the holidays, don’t do it. Layering lighter clothing is the key to comfort on the course in cold weather.
What the layers are made of is very important. Moisture wicking fabrics are just as important in the winter as they are in summer. If the material doesn’t breathe and wick moisture away when you sweat, the wetness will linger and eventually chill you to the bone.
Start with a bottom layer of specialty thermal underwear or natural silk. Then add layers of lighter clothing on top of this base. Air will get trapped between the layers and provide better insulation than one thick layer. Plus, you have the benefit of being able to remove layers as needed. A windproof/waterproof jacket is a good choice to top things off.
A great deal of heat can be lost through the extremities, so don’t neglect these parts of your body. Look for a hat, ideally one that will cover your ears. Consider golf gloves made for cold weather play, and don’t forget a pair of warm socks.
3. Stay cool in the hot sun
You know the basics, drink plenty of fluids and wear sunblock. But details in your clothing can make a big difference in your comfort level.
At the top of the list might be the words “moisture wicking.” Anything made from materials engineered this way will help you feel aerated and cooler.
Beyond that, look for smart design such as a hat with mesh sides that allows for air flow. Some also reflect harmful radiation or feature an inside band that helps keep sweat from rolling into your eyes?
Think color. Light colors reflect the sun and help you feel cooler. Consider fit. Pants and shorts designed with a looser fit allow air to flow freely, helping to keep your body cool.
Last by not least, don’t forget about your eyes. Golf sunglasses are more than a fashion accessory. They are the second part of the hat/sunglass combo that doctors recommend for prolonged sun exposure.
Some players have preferences for the color of the lens, but the most important part is the protection factor. Look for lenses that block 99-100 percent of UVA/UVB radiation. Avoid glasses that say “cosmetic” or provide no protection rating.