Hey, dress code vigilante – leave them kids alone!

How are we still arguing about golf dress codes?

I was involved in a mind-numbing discussion last week. It all started when Thomas Devine, the director of the FUEL Golf junior programme at Oulton Hall, tweeted this magnificent photo:

Kids! Playing golf! How wonderful. That is, after all, what we all want. Isn’t it? Who cares if they’re wearing hoodies? Or Adidas trackies? They’re kids! Playing golf!

But this is Brexit Britain, so of course some people took offence to it.

Before I go on, let me clear up my own personal stance on dress codes which, like my political stance, is very much left of centre. (That noise you hear is a load of people closing down this page, but I’ll bat on.)

I believe if you are playing a casual round, either on your own or with some pals, then you should be able to wear what you want. But, if you are playing a competition, then you adhere to golf’s standard attire.

There’s one argument that’s often thrown in the faces of those who call to scrap dress codes, and no doubt someone will respond to this with the same line: “But there are dress codes in other sports!”

Yes, there are. Take football for example. You all wear the same kit because – well, I don’t think I need to explain the reasoning for it. But if you were down at the park having a kick-around with your mates, you can wear what you want. Even jeans.

Which brings me nicely to my next point: Why would you want to play football in jeans? Have you tried playing golf in jeans? It’s bloody awful. And not even Tiger Woods looks good in jeans.

Tiger Woods jeans

Think back to when you were a kid and all you wanted to do was punt a football round. You didn’t care what you were wearing. How often did you get told off by your folks because you’d gone down to the park and in your school uniform on a sunny midweek evening?

My house overlooks the village green and there are kids out every night covering their school uniforms in mud. They don’t care what they’re wearing, they just want to play.

And this is the attitude we should promote within junior golf.

As these kids that are new to golf wearing their hoodies and tracksuit bottoms grow up and become more established in the game, they will undoubtedly want to mimic their idols. They’ll want to wear the flashest Nike polo top and the latest FootJoy shoes.

So I was surprised to see the negative response to Thomas’s tweet, including this reply:

Kids should be taught right from wrong at a young age; the correct way to behave and manners. The ‘who cares?’ attitude is what’s wrong with the youth of today and why they hang around towns with knives.

How on earth can this be the conclusion that is reached? The children in the photo are quite clearly being respectful of their playing partner putting out. As Thomas tells me:

Etiquette can be taught to anyone, regardless of attire.

And don’t get me started on the idea that kids are going to turn a life of crime because they’re allowed to wear what they want on the golf course.

Aside from the ridiculous arguments put forward, golf is an expensive game and the parents of these children are almost certainly under the cosh to buy equipment and kit for other sports they like to play. I know when I was that age I was desperate to have whichever football boots Rodney Jack was wearing (look him up), or the same tennis racquet as Pete Sampras, or Mark Ramprakash’s cricket bat.

golf dress codes

Having sports-mad kids is expensive, and golf is often swimming against the tide when it comes to getting the youngsters in, so we all need to lead by Thomas’s example, because when a parent tells their child to choose between a new football shirt or new golf top, which is going to win?

Thomas adds:

I am personally, along with many others, very passionate about getting as many children in to the game as possible.

“As a collective of golf coaches, we have to just keep knocking on the door of changing traditions and hopefully we will get there in the end.

If you’re one of the dress code vigilante, you don’t need to worry. These kids are not clogging up your course. They’re playing at welcoming clubs, such as Oulton Hall. And when they get older and do start adhering to dress codes, they still won’t be clogging up your course because they’ll find clubs that aren’t full of dinosaurs.

One final point…

See also: Tiger’s mock turtleneck, Rickie Fowler’s high tops, Tommy Fleetwood’s joggers.

Just. Let. Them. Play. Golf.