But the general rule is: The more expensive the green fees, the more strict the dress code. Dressing down in a t-shirt and jeans to play golf has been, in the USA anyway, something seen primarily at municipal golf courses and lower-cost facilities.
But is having that traditional dress code - collared shirt, golf slacks or nice shorts (no demin) - hurting golf? Does it contribute to the air of stodginess that many association with the game? Is it bad for business? If an upscale golf course lowered its standards on dress code, might that increase business? Are there some potential golfers out there who would play a course if they could play in a t-shirt and gym shorts, but wouldn't play that same course if they had to abide by the traditional dress code?
These are questions that are being asked within the upscale golf industry, both at public and private golf courses. These folks are in business, and the business of golf isn't "growing the game," it's growing profit through growing the game. So all those questions lead back to the main one: Will relaxing our dress code bring more paying customers to our golf course?
One of the most prominent golf management companies is Troon Golf, and Troon recently announced a new dress code policy at its daily-fee golf courses. The specifics are still up to the on-site personnel at each facility, but Troon's new daily fee dress code goes something like this: We'd like you to abide by the traditional golf dress code, but if you'll only play our course if you can wear gym shorts and a t-shirt, then that's fine, too.
Will this change in policy encourage more golfers to play those Troon tracks? I grew up in Texas, where golfing in jeans is not uncommon (do it myself sometimes!), but I have my doubts - it risks turning off the traditionalists who make up the majority of golfers who already play high-end golf courses. But I'm interested to see how the experiment plays out. (It's money, not dress code, that is the barrier to entry at high-end facilities - but there are golfers out there who can afford those courses but stay away because they are uncomfortable with the upscale vibe.) Experimentation is rarely a bad thing, so long as results are honestly analyzed and changes are made accordingly.
Read more about the new Troon daily fee dress code policy, and tell us what you think in comments.