A sport that has been struggling to attract fresh participation for more than a decade doesn’t help itself by body-shaming women and setting off an alarm over a cold-weather clothing option.
In the middle of a global pandemic, a choice of apparel managed to overtake a news cycle in October.
A concerned group of fashion police flooded social media in protest of Englishman Tyrell Hatton’s (pictured) choice of wearing a hoodie en route to his victory at the European Tour’s 2020 BMW PGA Championship, when it was played on the West Course of the Wentworth Club in Virginia Water, Surrey, England.
With high temperatures barely cracking 50 degrees over the course of the four-day tournament, Hatton was looking for something that would keep him warm, but not restrict his golf swing. He chose the Cold RDY Hoodie from adidas, which retails for around $80.
“It’s crazy the amount of people that obviously don’t agree with it,” Hatton said about the unexpected firestorm that his choice of on-course clothing set off. “If it looks smart and you’re comfortable to play in it, then I really don’t see what the issue is.”
For the record, Hatton was not the first person to wear a hooded sweatshirt in professional competition, and he certainly won’t be the last—especially after his winning performance.
And this wasn’t social media’s first brouhaha over on-course apparel. Influencer Paige Spiranac piques the interest of people for many reasons, but her playing attire is often credited with spurring an update to the dress code on the women’s tour.
In 2017, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) sent members an e-mail detailing a strict new dress code that would be vigorously enforced. The new guidelines prohibited the plunging necklines, short skirts and leggings that have become popular among female athletes. Infractions could result in a fine of $1,000, which would double with each offense.
Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s Chief of Communications and Tour Operations, said at the time, “The dress code requires players to present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game.”
On one hand, golf is a sport played by athletes. Uniforms in all sports have evolved over the years to help optimize performance. The heavy, cumbersome uniforms worn by Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio on the baseball field have been replaced by streamlined, form-fitting micro-fabrics that move with the players and wick away moisture from perspiration. Would Bryson DeChambeau or Justin Thomas perform nearly as well as they do if forced to wear knickers, a button-down shirt and tie?
On the other hand, golf is a sport steeped in tradition. While other sports are notorious for breaking the rules to gain an advantage—recent examples of sign-stealing by baseball’s Houston Astros and multiple infractions from the NFL’s New England Patriots (“Spygate” and “Deflategate”) come to mind—golfers still call penalties on themselves.
Would a club attract more members with a loosened dress code? Doubtful—and if it did, it might not be members they really want. But a sport that has been struggling to attract fresh participation for more than a decade doesn’t help itself by body-shaming women and setting off an alarm over a cold-weather clothing option.
What’s your club’s on-course dress code? Has it softened over the years? Would you object to a hoodie or yoga pants? Shoot me an e-mail and let’s keep the conversation going.