Posted by & filed under Debates, Women's Golf.

The LPGA’s ban on plunging necklines, short skirts and leggings only makes golf look more boring and old-fashioned, writes Harriet Shephard.

rules of golf

 

We all know that to grow women’s golf, we need to get rid of its archaic, stuffy image and make it seem more welcoming and fun. But with brands like Nike and Puma releasing increasingly fashionable golf clothing, inspiring young tour pros to make it look cool and fun, it seemed that things were heading in the right direction.

But then along came the LPGA and its updated dress code, with its eyes fixed on destroying any progress. The body has announced that players are now banned from wearing “offensive” items like plunging necklines, skirts below a certain length, and leggings.

Excuse me? This is just another thing that makes you hold your head in your hands and feel completely embarrassed. Player president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman detailed the new rules in an email to all LPGA players. They included:

  • Racerback with a mock or regular collar are allowed (no collar = no racerback)
  • Plunging necklines are NOT allowed.
  • Leggings, unless under a skort or shorts, are NOT allowed
  • 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.
  • Appropriate attire should be worn to pro-am parties. You should be dressing yourself to present a professional image. Unless otherwise told “no,” golf clothes are acceptable. Dressy jeans are allowed, but cut-offs or jeans with holes are NOT allowed.
  • Workout gear and jeans (all colours) NOT allowed inside the ropes
  • Joggers are NOT allowed

The penalty for breaking any of these rules is a $1,000 fine, which doubles with each offence.

Really where to start with the many, many things that are wrong with this list… Firstly, who on the tour is going around exposing their ‘bottom area’? And who even uses that phrase?

Yes, skorts might blow up, but the whole point of them is that this doesn’t really matter because you’re wearing shorts underneath.
The fine seems incredibly unfair. Particularly as the players need to wear the clothes that the sponsors supply them with, so it’s not like they have a great deal of choice in what they choose. The capitalisation of every ‘NOT’ in the email is also woefully condescending.

It makes you wonder what angered the LPGA into sending such a severe list. What was the final straw that resulted in such a steep fine being imposed? Was it Michelle Wie wearing yet another stylish racer-back top? It’s bizarre to think that this was offending anyone.
A top doesn’t need a collar in order to look smart, and leggings can look just as good, if not better, than a frumpy pair of golf trousers.

michelle wie

Image credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

 

It’s sad that Wie, who I think is the best-dressed player on the tour, is going to have to abandon nearly all of her enviable Nike wardrobe if she wants to avoid a hefty fine.
Many of the other players will also have to reassess their outfits. It seems that freedom of expression is clearly not a thing in professional golf.

Most of the players are teenagers and young women in their 20s. It is normal that they want to look their best. When they’re on TV with the world watching they should at least feel good in what they’re wearing.
Golf is obviously a physical activity that’s often played in very hot weather. No-one looks down on athletes in other sports for showing some skin. We aren’t disgusted with Jessica Ennis-Hill for showing off her magnificant abs when she competes, and Wimbledon doesn’t ban tennis players from wearing skorts. But of course this is golf, so logic doesn’t always apply.

As a guess, I’d say these rules are designed to deter the players from ‘sexualising’ the sport or becoming social media sensations like Paige Spiranac, who at least makes golf look fun and fashionable.
But there’s a different between dressing in modern, flattering clothes and taking sexy selfies in a low cut top. Yes the players should proudly represent the tour and do them proud, but they shouldn’t be stopped from being normal young women. A player wearing a vest with no collar is hardly as shocking or provocative as Kylie Jenner posting Instagram snaps in her underwear.

Teen Vogue has accused the LPGA of “slut shaming” female players, while golf writer Robert Lusetich also criticised the list on Twitter:


Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA Tour’s chief communications and operations officer, told Golf Digest: “The dress code requires players to present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game. While we typically evaluate our policies at the end of the year, based on input from our players, we recently made some minor adjustments to the policy to address some changing fashion trends.”

Granted you couldn’t get away with wearing what Wie does in most golf clubs. But it should be the other way round; the clubs should change their dress codes, not the LPGA. After holding the US Women’s Open at Trump National, this is the second time that the LPGA’s decisions have been criticised recently.
Nobody is going to be enticed by a sport where you have to panic about what you’re meant to wear. For any other sport you could wear a pair of leggings or shorts without fear of being judged.

These claims about wanting to get more young women and girls into golf are all well and good, but with embarrassing rules like these making the headlines, it’s clearer than ever that golf just needs to relax and embrace 2017.