Times are changing, and so are golfers outfits. But is this a bad thing? Is there an issue at all with what the world's best female golfers are wearing? We sent Madeleine Winnett to the Women's British Open to find out

I like to think that I am entirely in my comfort zone tackling any subject to do with this sport – any subject, that is, except for anything to do with golf dress codes.

So when the remit came through asking me to write about dress codes and what the players are wearing at the AIG Women’s British Open, I felt a slight sense of panic.

At previous Opens, I could have watched players hit balls, studied them on the greens or even interviewed them, yet if someone had asked me anything about their clothing immediately afterwards, I wouldn’t have noticed a thing.

Golf dress codes

So looking through an entirely new set of viewing goggles, I began to study ladies golf in a completely different light. Happily, my first observation was that knee-length shorts – the favourite mainstay at many a golf club – didn’t seem to exist any more for anyone except the caddies. Short shorts, and in many cases, short tight shorts, are now the norm.

To my mind, this is a good thing. Only women of a certain age should have to consider wearing knee length shorts – and not always then.

I don’t know what precise number constitutes ‘a certain age’, but I suspect I may have reached it.

Even so, I don’t intend to don knee-length shorts any time soon. Clearly though, not everyone agrees.

I sat in the stands next to part of a delightful group of 38 ladies from Lilleybrook Golf Club in Cheltenham listening to the strains of, “How can they get away with shorts barely covering their bottoms?”

I think even I would balk at shorts as brief as that, but happily I never spotted any which I perceived to be so immodest.

Two of the group, Liz Widdowson and Moya Kitchen, thrilled with their new purchases from the tented village, kept me highly entertained with their thoughts on dress, most of which seemed to be the polar opposite of mine. Their main objection to what the players were wearing was that most outfits wouldn’t be allowed at their club, and that at local level, many clubs have quite strict dress rules.

As well as the shorts that they wouldn’t be allowed to wear, Liz also challenged some of the tops. “One person wore a shirt with no collar!” she exclaimed. I had already noticed a proliferation of collarless shirts – another main stipulation at most clubs – but on this topic my feelings are mixed.

My overriding thought is that as long as people look smart, I really don’t mind what they wear. And to my mind, high necked, closely fitted round neck tops look very smart. Conversely, looser fitting, lower ones show a more casual style and are more suited to leisure wear or the gym, and of those I’m not such a fan.

Golf dress codes

More than anything, I think it is an age thing. When I turned to a younger demographic, they loved what the players were wearing.

Sarah Ditlevsen and her 12-year-old daughter, Elisabeth, were positively ecstatic about how flattering the range of golfing outfits are now. They both felt that the length of shorts were quite respectable, and as Elisabeth was sporting one herself, she had absolutely no problem with the concept of shirts without collars.

I think it was Brittany Altomare’s purple skirt and black leggings combination which caught my eye more than her no-collared sweatshirt, but it wasn’t a look I was rushing to emulate. Having said that, she holed a good putt at the 16th while I was watching, so perhaps it might be worth trying after all.

Even as Liz’s words were still ringing in my ears about how she didn’t think players looked as pretty as they used to because they were either not co-ordinated enough with their visor colours, or too many wore black, Sarah opined, “Even though the girls train really hard now, they still look very feminine in their dress. I think they are really pretty, and attractive, and appropriate. I think the skort is a wonderful thing and a nice shaped shirt hanging out is a joy!”

The skort of the day had to go to Maria Fassi. TV didn’t do it justice. It was a riot of colours with double edge pleats, quite unlike anything I had ever seen before. But I loved it, and I wanted one.

Despite the colours, the proliferation of skin tight trousers, logos on shirts and short shorts, it seems that the overall talking point about dress codes for this year is going to be shirts without collars. As Anna Nordqvist walked onto the 1st tee, the gentleman next to me, Graham Perkins, could scarcely contain his incredulity. “She’s wearing a tee shirt!” he exclaimed. When I interjected he said, “If I turned up at my club like that I’d be told to go and put a proper shirt on.” It seems that this will be a hard view to change.

But what is my overriding conclusion about what the players are wearing at the AIG Women’s British Open? If you are one of the athletic players on tour today, you look good in anything, and ultimately there’s no real issue with what any of these ladies are wearing.

Keep up to speed with everything from the AIG Women’s British Open with Lady Golfer.

Joe Hughes

Tour editor covering men's golf, women's golf and anything else that involves the word golf, really. The talk is far better than the game, but the work has begun to change that.

Handicap: 20

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