If you think you’re ready to tee off in suit slacks -- think again. Unlike basketball and tennis, golfing, even on a public course, requires that you pay careful attention to style and dress etiquette. You can avoid awkwardness on the green by knowing what to wear and when to wear it.
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Although you have a number of shirting options available, the most appropriate is nearly always the golf shirt. Golf shirts are similar to polo shirts, but they feature longer sleeves and reach lower in the waist. Always tuck your shirt into your pants or shorts, and ensure that the sleeves reach about three-quarters of the way to your elbow. On cool days, pair a crew neck sweater with a button down collar sport shirt. Conversely, you may wear a light, button-down sports shirt on warm days. When choosing a shirt, keep in mind Golf Digest’s advice that “most golf clubs expect you to wear a shirt that has a collar. Don’t risk otherwise.”
Summer afternoons on the golf course can get excessively hot, and shorts may become a more sensible alternative to pants -- but tread carefully. Although shorts are usually acceptable attire, not all shorts are appropriate. Avoid denim cut-offs, athletic shorts and cargo shorts. The hem of your shorts should reach just above the kneecap and should be worn with a belt and your shirt tucked in.
You almost can’t go wrong with pants when golfing -- almost. Whether made with linen, cotton or wool, styles such as casual slacks, khakis and chinos are all appropriate. Jeans should be avoided at all costs. Similarly, the golf course is no place for formal slacks. Stick to plain, flat-front khakis if you feel unsure about which pants and patterns are appropriate for golfing. Ensure that the hem of your pants touch the top of your golf shoes and that they allow you freedom of movement; you don’t want your attire to affect your ability to play the game.
As with other outdoor sports, local seasonal climate should be taken into consideration before selecting your golfing gear. Chilly days may require wool pants and a sweater. Etiquette expert Peter Post suggests that you “be prepared with a sweater, windbreaker, and/or fleece vest or jacket, as well as any other cold-weather attire that you personally favor.” For rainy weather, take advantage of modern water-resistant clothes. It is necessary, however, that your water-resistant attire fit close to your body so it doesn't inhibit your swing.