The LPGA recently announced that a revised dress code policy would take effect on July 17, 2017. In an email to its members, the LPGA set forth the following prohibitions:
- Racerbacks 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 colors) NOT allowed inside the ropes.
- Joggers are NOT allowed.
LPGA Tour players were advised that it was their responsibility to inform their clothing sponsors of the revised dress code, and that the fines for violating the policy would be $1,000 for the first offense, with the penalty amount doubling with each subsequent offense.
You might be wondering where dress codes fit in with the Rules of Golf. If a dress code policy is considered a Condition of Competition, then it would be a Rule given the Definition of “Rule or Rules” which states, in part, “The term “Rule” includes … [a]ny Condition of Competition established by the Committee under Rule 33-1 and Appendix I;”
Part B of Appendix I [Conditions of Competition] notes, “The Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played. The conditions should include many matters such as method of entry, eligibility, number of rounds to be played, etc., … Detailed information regarding these conditions is provided in “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” under Rule 33-1 and “How to Conduct a Competition.”
There is nothing in the USGA’s publication “How to Conduct a Competition” concerning dress codes, and the only Decision under Rule 33-1 [Conditions; Waiving Rule] that comes close to apparel is Decision 33-1/14 [Condition Regarding Footwear]. This Decision is equipment-related and points out that a Committee, in the conditions of a competition, may prohibit the use of shoes with metal or traditionally designed spikes.
It appears that dress codes are not part of the Rules of Golf, otherwise there would be a stated penalty, e.g., one-stroke, two-stroke, loss of hole, or disqualification, associated with a breach. As pointed out by the LPGA, there is only a monetary fine for any breach of its new dress code. An enlightening Decision on this issue is Decision 33-8/6 [Local Rule for Breach of Sportsmanship Code or Competition Policy] which states, “A Local Rule assessing a penalty for a breach of a sportsmanship code or competition policy is not authorized. Penalties for breaches of such items should take a more generalized form, e.g., censure, suspension or revocation of the privilege of playing in events.”