People Are Not Happy About The Strict New Dress Code For Female Golfers

What do clothes and golfing performance have to do with each other? That’s what many professional golfers, golf enthusiasts, and people in general are asking after the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) announced its new dress code guidelines.

Critics of the strict rules claim that the new code is not only sexist, but also reinforces stereotypes. Here, we take a look at the problems with the new LPGA dress code and why it promotes inequality.

Inside the New LPGA Dress Code

Judging by the new dress code guidelines instilled by the LPGA this past week, one would think professional female golfers were coming onto the course looking like ladies of the night. This, however, is not the case, which causes some to believe these new rules are simply a way to body-shame the athletes and control what parts of their bodies they can show.


According to Golf Digest, LGPA player president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman sent an email to LGPA pros on July 2 with the new rules. In this email, she specified that the new dress code would be implemented when the LPGA participates in the Marathon Classic in Toledo, Ohio, on July 20.

The new dress code is as follows—bonus points if you can spot every “NOT”:

– Racerback with a mock or regular collar are allowed (no collar = no racerback)

– Plunging necklines are NOT allowed.

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– 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

Goetze-Ackerman stated that it is the golfers’ responsibilities to update their clothing sponsors with the new changes.

The email also advised that the players would be subject to $1,000 fines for violating the dress code and that the fee would be doubled for each offense.

Many players and fan disagree with the code and believe that it is unfair and dated. Heather Daly-Donofrio, the tour’s chief communications and operator officer, told Golf Digest that the code is simply a way for the players to look more polished while participating.


“The dress code requires players to present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game,” Daly-Donofrio said. “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.”

Many people say the new code is sexist.

Athletic wear has changed a lot over the last few years. Not only has it become effective in helping athletes increase their performance, it has also become more fashionable and often more revealing. Shorts, skirts, and skorts have become shorter, necklines have taken a plunge, and the pieces are noticeably tighter. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about these changes; it’s just the direction sportswear has gone in recently for reasons of both form and function.


According to the LPGA, however, wearing this type of clothing makes a player look “unprofessional.” The dress code for male athletes, however, is far less specific and leaves lots of room for interpretation. Is there any surprise there?

According to, the men’s dress code is as follows:

“Players shall present a neat appearance in both clothing and personal grooming. Clothing worn by players shall be consistent with currently accepted golf fashion.”


The dress code goes on to say that T-shirts, jeans, and shorts are considered inappropriate for participants and that officials monitor player appearance for violations. That’s it.

People are speaking out.

Sports writer Robert Lusetich took to Twitter to air his grievances regarding the dress code.

“’Skirt, skort & shorts MUST be long enough to not see your bottom area’ My Sunday school teacher, Sister Margaret, writing #LPGA dress code?’”

Professional golfer Paige Spirinac took serious issue with the new code as well, blasting it in her piece for Fortune.

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In her commentary, Spirinac addresses how other sports allow their female athletes to dress in ways that improve their performances. Sometimes, this means wearing as little clothing as possible.

Pole vaulters, she argues, wear sports bras and briefs to maximize their limb movement and to prevent any clothing from catching onto the equipment. Tennis players also wear pieces that allow them to move freely so that they are able to perform at their best levels. Spirinac questions why the same exceptions aren’t made for female golfers.

Spirinac seems to take particular offense to the rule that plunging necklines are prohibited. Not only is the wording vague, she says, but it also body-shames the players.

Callaway Golf

“Most likely, this edict was put into place to eliminate the presence of cleavage,” she writes in her piece. “In that case, a curvier, fuller-figured woman would be chided and fined far more often than a woman with a smaller bust. In a world where women are continually and unwantedly sexualized, this new rule serves as yet another reason for women to feel ashamed of their bodies, and a reminder that to be respected, they must alter their behavior because of outside perception.”

Spirinac, who has a strong Instagram presence, also criticizes the LPGA for encouraging stereotypical perceptions and forcing golfers to alter their wardrobe because of the opposite sex.


“By labeling women as looking ‘unprofessional’ when showing cleavage or shorts worn under a skirt, the LPGA is perpetrating the outdated stereotypes about the connection between what a woman wears and her morals,” she continues, “as well as insinuating that women do not have control over the perception of their bodies, but rather that they must bend to the every whim of the male gaze.”

The code clearly shows how inequality in the sports world exists.

When is the last time you heard of a male athlete receiving a fine because his shorts were too tight or showed too much leg? How about because he wore a tank top?

It’s unanswered questions like these that cause many to believe that inequality in the sports world is running rampant.


Take the months leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, for example. The Badminton World Federation announced in May 2011 that a change would be made to the female players’ uniforms, and their uniforms only.

In an effort to create a more “attractive presentation,” the Federation stated that women badminton players must wear dresses or skirts when playing at the elite level. This decision was based on the idea that the new code would make the players appear more feminine and appealing to fans and corporate sponsors. Before that, many players were wearing shorts or tracksuit pants in competitions.

In addition to being completely sexist—we won’t even get into how this clearly objectifies women—the dress code alterations were found offensive to some cultures and religions. For instance, Muslim players, who wear clothing that protects their modesty, would have been forced to abandon their ideals and wear uniforms that reveal their legs.

Credit Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Fortunately, the new rule never went into effect. The Badminton World Federation took its notion off the table 12 months later, after the announcement caused an uproar.

Male football and baseball players wear extremely tight pants to help their athletic performance. Female athletes, however, are told that this type of clothing makes them too distracting and appealing. No one bats an eye when baseball players adjust their cups—which they do frequently and dramatically—but everyone loses their minds when a female athlete shows off a little décolletage.


Inequality in sports prevents women from reaching their athletic goals and may even discourage younger female players from competing. Instead of constantly scrutinizing women, perhaps the sports world should focus on the positives that female athletes contribute, including becoming role models and overcoming adversity.

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