As most people who know me, especially my family, will agree, I am not a dedicated follower of fashion! Golf is as subject as the rest of the fashion industry to brands, designers and changing looks but I can’t say it has ever bothered me. I have a more practical approach to on-course clothing but I also like to respect certain golfing standards. This is what to wear when golfing, the Fairway First Golf Version!
Golf is a Sport-be Comfortable
As much as I like all things old-school, I am amazed by what people will wear on the course. If I sign up for a hickory tournament you will doubtless find me in plus fours and a jacket and tie, probably all in a heavy tweed. Until then, I want to be in whatever makes the game easier and more comfortable. Funnily enough, this isn’t always attire that is made for golf. Given it is currently pushing 40 degrees here (centigrade so well in to the nineties I would guess for my American friends), let’s talk shorts.
I have never really got on with tailored golf shorts. This is probably because I am built wrong! Ultimately though, they aren’t, to my mind, the most practical of garments for repeatedly hitting a golf ball. You might differ, but for me I have a host of tings in my pockets when I play. I know a lot of people keep virtually nothing in their pockets and just keep zipping ang unzipping pockets to get what they need. I have always found this fairly irritating and time-consuming.
For example, I often have a score card and pencil with me. This isn’t just in competition either. I like to be able to consult things like the yardage of the whole and use it for noting down which club I use or how many puts I take when I am trying something out on the course. I will usually have 2 or 3 balls in my pockets too. This isn’t just because I expect to hit it out of bounds! I like to hit two or three shots with different clubs for example and I don’t want to hold up play if someone is behind me. Simply dropping another ball is the quickest way to go about this.
I also keep a couple of tees and a pitch mark repair tool on me all the time. If it is either very warm (sweat) or early morning (dew) I usually have a cloth of some sort for wiping down my grip. In the Spring, I might also have a packet of tissues as I sneeze my way around the course!
Pockets are Great for Golf
You might be reading this and think that this is a crazy amount of stuff to be carting around, especially for someone claiming to be a golfing minimalist. To me, it does make sense. I generally don’t carry a bag with 17 different pockets and I want to find things quickly rather than looking through one pocket to find a tee or whatever.
The solution for me is…..cargo shorts. Sorry, I know some people are going to hate to hear this. It conjures up images of a gut smashing it around in a vest holding a beer in one hand, but this really isn’t me. I find it very easy to find shorts that look reasonably smart and still have pockets everywhere, including the larger pockets on the front for things like scorecards.
The other reason for several pockets is that I don’t like to feel things moving around too much when I swing. I put balls in the standard pocket where they are wedged securely and things like scorecard and cloth which I can’t feel in the larger, flat pockets. Then I might have the pitch mark tool in one back pocket with maybe my phone in the other.
There is another good reason for going down this route. I am not really cheap (honestly!) but it just makes no sense to me to pay 3-4 times the price for something. I can get hard-wearing cargo-style shorts from sports shops, usually in the camping section. As soon as something is a specialist golf product, the cost just goes through the roof! I really don’t like this, especially for beginners, because they feel like they have to be wearing hundreds of dollars/pounds/euros of designer gear before they are allowed on the course!
Should you Wear a Collared Shirt to Play Golf?
It is a little bit ironic then that I really don’t like to wear round necked tops to play. I know Tiger wears them. I know that hoodies are now a thing in professional golf but I just don’t feel right wearing something that hasn’t got a collar. This is probably because I started playing in the UK at a time when you would be politely asked to leave the course if you were wearing anything other than a polo shirt with a collar at the very least.
There is also a practical benefit to this. That collar can be turned up as sun protection and also against the wind or rain. There are now some fantastic lightweight materials that make it a joy to play when it is hot compared to the old-school cotton ones. Likewise, you don’t have to spend the rest of the round soaking wet because the material absorbs water like a sponge and stays wet for the next 17 holes after that brief downpour on the first!
Winter Gear? Think Outdoors
The other reason why I tend to shy away from golf-specific clothes a lot of the time is that there are other options out there that are simply much better. For example, in the colder months, you want to stay warm and still be able to swing the club without feeling like the Michelin Man. Sure, there are some very nice (and generally very pricey) golf-specific items you could wear. But why not open up a much broader range of options by going down to your local sporting goods store and looking at the hunting, camping and hiking sections?
As an example, I get a fair bit of my stuff from Decathlon. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the number of times I have found something that does a much better job at keeping my warm, dry or whatever and at a much better price, means that I will be continuing my trips there for the foreseeable future. I would much rather have something that is supposed to keep me dry when hiking, or a base layer that is made for wicking sweat away when trial running than something with a designer label made for golf that won’t do as good a job.
Do you Need Golf Shoes?
Another area that is a problem, especially to those starting out, is footwear. I currently own tow pairs of golf shoes, one a lighter Summer model and the other for when it gets a bit wetter. I am fairly happy with both, but buying one or the other new today would certainly be expensive. I would love a pair of Footjoys that I have designed myself, but this isn’t necessary for most people either.
In fact, most modern golf shoes are really extremely similar to normal sports shoes. There are a couple of provisos. Firstly, a golf swing does involve a certain amount of force. You need something that isn’t going to slip. Most golf shoes today don’t necessarily have metal spikes. Even my Winter ones use rubber. They do have a grip pattern that means that the risk of me falling on my backside when I swing in humid conditions is relatively limited fortunately.
The other important thing is that they won’t damage the course, especially the greens. The problem with some non-golf shoes is that they can dig up the putting surface. There is one option that is worth looking at and that is Trail running shoes. I have tried these and they tend to be very comfortable, can be waterproof, don’t usually damage the greens and are available in a wide-range of styles and budgets.
That being said, I would suggest that a reasonable pair of golf shoes should be near the top of the shopping list if you are looking to kit yourself out for the course.
What to Wear When Golfing
I think it is important to think a little bit outside the box when you are looking for the perfect golfing gear. There is nothing wrong with specialty golfing gear, after all it is (supposedly) made for that. However, it might be worth your while both in terms of comfort/practicality as well as cost, to take a stroll through the other sections of the sporting goods store near you.