Madeleine Winnett: Why the LPGA have got the dress code right

News & Tour

LG columnist Madeleine Winnett has her say on the new LPGA dress code and the controversy it has caused.

By Madeleine Winnett

Previously I confessed to sniggering about the appearance of Jason Day when he turned up to play in the Open wearing what looked like hi-top trainers and baggy jogging bottoms.

At the same time, I appreciated the immaculate turn out of Adam Scott who happened to walk past Jason onto the practice ground. The contrast couldn’t have been more marked.

However, I appreciate that my sentiments were purely age related. Clothing matters in all circles of society, and people want to feel that they fit in and belong to whatever group that is.

If you make people dress outside of their comfort zones, and in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, unfashionable or likely to be ridiculed by their peers outside of that environment, you are on a losing wicket – or putting green in this case.

Jason’s attire didn’t offend me, I just couldn’t relate to it personally. But the fact that young people can and will is important. On that point Charley Hull agrees with me. She said she liked what Jason wore, and whilst other people didn’t like it, his outfit would attract younger fans.

She was also correct when she said that many people still label golf as old-fashioned and that we need to move away from that. We do – but not to give them a licence to wear anything.

Olympic tee times

On that point, I think the LPGA have got it right for their new dress code rules. I have always railed against senseless, outdated rules that do nothing but reinforce the stereotypical fuddy-duddy image of golf.

For instance, many clubs still have notices forbidding the changing of shoes in car parks. Why? It’s just ridiculous, and most people ignore it anyway.

The same is true for dress codes. A lot of clubs still adhere to the knee-length shorts rule for ladies. Girls don’t want to wear knee-length shorts. They are ridiculously unflattering and unfeminine.

If you want to put girls off from entering the game, tell them they have to wear knee-length shorts and wave them goodbye at the same time. But, as ever, people have taken the relaxation of rules to extremes and it is time to pull them back.

You should be able to wear whatever makes you most comfortable. But not when that style turns to immodesty or offence. And this is what the LPGA are trying to stamp out.

Their much reported guideline “Length of skirt, skort and shorts MUST be long enough to not see your bottom area (even if covered by under shorts) at any time, standing or bent over” is entirely appropriate in my eyes.

I don’t want to see any visible “bottom areas” on the golf course, at any time, thank you very much. There is no need for it. You can still flaunt long beautiful legs (or even short beautiful legs) and feel current, in vogue, modern, sexy and any other adjective you care to use by wearing short shorts.

They just don’t have to be offensively short. The wearer has a choice of what to portray. Unfortunately, the viewer has no such choice.

Sandra Gal argued that short skirts have been around forever, and cited tennis as a sport which hasn’t been hurt by such apparel. I disagree. I absolutely hate being forced to see someone’s pants every time they serve or jump. It isn’t elegant, in fact it is the exact opposite.

By all means dress to be sassy if you think that will appeal to others. Wear makeup and get your nails done. Burn your diamond sweaters and rip up your knee length shorts if it makes you feel better.

Just save your ‘plunging necklines’ and ‘bottom areas’ for the beach as your primary role is to motivate, not titillate.

Taking pride in your appearance as a professional golfer should be your first priority, so well done the LPGA.

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