Some thoughts on the LPGA’s new, stricter dress code policy (effective on Monday)
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

The LPGA, which has always had a pretty lax dress code, is enforcing stricter regulations beginning Monday, July 17th, at its next event in Toledo. Here’s a copy of the updated policy that was sent out by LPGA Player President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman:

  • Racerback with a mock or regular collar are allowed (no collar = no
  • 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 colors) NOT allowed inside the ropes
  • Joggers are NOT allowed

Hmm… what’s wrong with joggers?? Racerbacks? I guess as long as they have a collar, it’s okay. My favorite part might be the length of skirt, skort, shorts “MUST be long enough to not see your bottom area.”

Here’s a question: Would Michelle Wie’s outfit (in the picture above) be permitted? She’s wearing a racerback shirt without a collar, but she’s also wearing sun sleeves.

Speaking of those, I chatted with Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols recently at the men’s U.S. Open, and she told me that all the rage these days is “sun sleeves” — she’s wearing them, too, and told me they’re available on Amazon and the name of the brand (and I can’t find that Note on my computer right now). This “trend” started with the Asian players, but now the Americans are also all about them. It sounds like there’s even more of a growing concern and movement toward skin care protection awareness and trying to limit sun exposure, which makes sense because golfers are in the sun for so many hours that getting skin cancer is a serious issue.

Via GolfDigest.com:

When we asked the LPGA to comment, Heather Daly-Donofrio, the tour’s chief communications and tour operations officer, offered the following statement: “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. The specifics of the policy have been shared directly with the members.”

Fair enough. (Disclosure: Heather was the Yale Women’s Golf assistant coach during my freshman and sophomore years in college.) Perhaps in this era where it’s ultra-trendy for young female golfers (even the ones in high school still!) to post photos of themselves dressed in what many would consider scantily-clad outfits both on and off the course, the LPGA would like the pros to attract more attention for their play than their looks.

It might also be to ensure the ladies are garnering respect because generally, “being hot” and showing skin will attract thousands of followers, but usually it’s for the wrong reasons.

The first person that comes to my mind of someone who strikes a perfect balance between the two is Anna Rawson. She no longer players on the LPGA, but is still very involved in the game and has more endorsement deals with golf-related companies than many of the pros.

Even back in the late ’90s and early ’00s, I remember the LPGA had a super liberal dress code policy. I recall this because organizations like the AJGA had relatively strict regulations, like the “dollar-bill rule,” for girls. What does that mean? Well, in retrospect, it was pretty messed up because we were dress-shamed on the first tee if our shorts looked “suspect.” (No one wore skorts back in the day and our fashion options were very limited.)

So, this was the deal: If we showed up on the first tee at an AJGA tournament, and the starter thought our shorts might not comply, we had to kneel down and hold a dollar bill that had to cover the length of the bottom of our shorts to the top of our knee cap. If it did, then we were all good, but if it didn’t, then we had to change before teeing off (which meant you had, like, three minutes). I thought it was a great rule for years because it was cut and dry.

With regard to personal experience, I can remember one time at least where the starter thought my shorts looked questionable and I had to kneel and go through the whole dollar-bill test. (I passed.) I also got crap from a lot of my friends that thought I got a pass more often than they did because I was (am) petite and shorts didn’t look “as short” on me. Well, looking back, I’m thankful if that was the case, so I didn’t get dress-shamed on the first tee as often as others!

When I think about it now, the idea of forcing girls to kneel on the first tee and measure the length of our shorts is rather appalling. A few weeks ago, I asked Nikki B, who is ten years younger than me, if the dollar-bill rule still was in effect at AJGA events. She had no idea what I was talking about. When I explained it to her, she was absolutely horrified and shocked. Which is the appropriate reaction. I feel like I thought this dress-shaming tradition was completely OK until the past year. And now, I’m like, WTF!!!

I remember talking to my friends in junior golf and teammates in college about how the pros wore short shorts on the LPGA whenever we grumbled about our crappy (and lack thereof) fashion options. For instance, Grace Park was one of the first fashion icons on the LPGA. I believe she was sponsored by Prada at one point, but she was definitely the first player that comes to mind when I think of late ’90s pros who were fashion forward.

We had the worst uniforms in college. The polos were fine, but we had, like, pleated khaki pants, which should be banned in general — I find them yugely offensive. I never wore them because they didn’t fit me and were, like, 5 inches too long; instead, I would just wear my rain wants over shorts if the weather was chilly.

Women’s golf fashion has come a long ways, though. The current women’s golf coach at Yale will sometimes mail me their uniforms, and they’re *super* cute. I was a bit surprised at how short the skorts were, though! Call me old-fashioned, but they definitely didn’t cover my “bottom area” when I bent over. But mostly, I was jealous that we didn’t have such trendy options in the early 2000s. It’s only been like the last five years that there are more options in women’s golf fashion and I don’t have to take the shorts/skorts to the tailor because otherwise they were like “old-lady” length and past my knees! (Which is a huge money saver in NYC.)

I feel like this dress policy is mostly reasonable, but fashion has been an increasingly trendy way for the pros to express themselves on the golf course. Women’s golf gear has come a LONG ways from my junior and college golf days, where ill-fitting polos and unflattering khaki shorts were basically uniform. I have *plenty* of pictures for proof, but I’m not about to share them!

There seems to be quite a bit of outrage on social media about this new dress code. It’s left me with a bit of a poor taste in my mouth because it seems like we’re moving backwards (again) after coming so far. It feels a bit like the “Trump era” where authority figures are trying to control what women wear and how we express ourselves.

I highly doubt that’s the reason behind the LPGA’s rational, but this announcement is not coming at best time in the world. After all, it is 2017.