As a forty-something woman golfer who grew up as a teen in the 70s-80s (and am now a parent of three) I find myself trapped in a zone between two battling groups of women trying to determine a proper dress code for the course.
It used to be that women wore clothes that covered up every inch of their bodies – even if you were hitting the ball in 100 degree Texas heat. But as time wore on, hemlines crept up – so much so that it seems as if today’s young female golfers are just as concerned about looking good as they are about their handicap.
Golf has become an even more popular sport among young people. It’s trendy, it can help you form business relationships, and it’s an activity both men and women can participate in together.
So it’s no wonder that golf manufacturers are now catering to that demographic. I know when I take my own mom (now in her 60s) out for a round, she has a wide-brimmed hat on, long-sleeves and a pair of pants on that just look uncomfortable to me. I love mom, but she epitomizes the whole reason women’s golf is viewed as “frumpy.”
My 16-year old daughter, on the other hand, joins us wearing a golf skort (combination skirt and shorts, in case you didn’t know) that is so high I cringe every time she tees up. Her shirt is a typical sleeveless preppy vest, but looks as if my husband did the laundry – shrunk about 5 sizes too small. She wants to make sure everyone on the course gets an eyeful of her outer beauty. So what do I wear when I’m out with these two? I wear a comfy pair of Bermuda shorts and a polo shirt.
One of my idols growing up was Jan Stephenson – who was often criticized for her sexy look and suggestive posters. She brought about what the LPGA is after – attention. I remember my dad watching LPGA tournaments just to see her play.
But the LPGA wants women’s golf to be viewed because of its inherent importance, not by showing a little skin to get sponsors interested in creating a larger purse for the winner. In case you haven’t noticed, the PGA tour towers over the LPGA when it comes to sponsors and media coverage.
While the LPGA may want to be on an equal playing field, it’s not going to happen. It hasn’t happened so far – although the tour has made great strides to entice a new generation of female golfers to turn pro.
So should we put on a show just to achieve the same level of interest? No, I don’t think it has to be as dramatic as this. But we do have to recognize that it’s no different than us not wanting to cover everything up – including our ankles – in the sweltering heat for the sake of modesty.
The bottom line is this – we want women to play the game, and we’re going to have to accept the fact that younger women have a different idea of what’s acceptable. If they want to dress for today’s trends, we should let them.
As with all sports, we can keep some uniform guidelines in place, and I agree with the American Junior Golf Association restrictions on revealing abs, but when it comes time to play as an adult, I think we should all be able to make our own decisions and dress to fit our individual personalities and taste.
In the sports world, the ones who usually get the most attention and ultimately, the most money, are those with bigger-than-life personalities. Many people use fashion as their outlet to shine.
Many top designers have now recognized that women’s golf isn’t about being frumpy or serious – it can be fun and appealing – which is exactly the kind of creations they’re churning out for female golfers. And who knows … mom and I might start raiding my daughter’s closet one day soon!
Copyright 2006 Lady O' Golf