Last week I came home to find that my Golf Digest magazine had arrived – time for me and my golfguy to play tug of war to see who can read it first. For the first time in many months, I won the battle and immediately sat down to figure out ‘why I can’t putt’. Seems putting is the theme of this month’s issue. But before I could get to that, I stumbled on the letter from the editor on the “The Case for Change at Private Clubs.”
I agreed with most of what he said about private clubs needing to get into the 21st century. And that got me thinking about this year’s CN Women’s Open and how most of the women on that tour would never be allowed to play at most private clubs in North America. They couldn’t get past the dress code police.
To give you a perspective in this, check out the dress code policy at St. Charles Country Club, the home of this year’s CN Women’s Open…
LADIES/GIRLS – Golf shirts, with collars or sleeves, slacks, pants and shorts with pockets sewn closely to garment, sweaters, jackets, skirts, and rain suits. Shorts, skirts and skorts must be of conservative length being no shorter than mid thigh. Golf shirts must be worn inside the waist unless tailored to be worn outside the waist.
I spoke to one of the St. Charles board members about their dress code and was happy to hear that their BOD is very aware they need to change and are surveying their members on what they’d like to see. He did say, however, that it wasn’t all that long ago that the women members had to kneel in front of the Starter prior to their round to prove their shorts were the proper length. Oh my!
Now check out these outfits and tell me if you think they’d pass muster…
Michelle Wie comes up short.
Anna Rawson wouldn’t pass the kneeling test either…
Ai Miyazato would be asked to tuck it in…
Canada’s Big Breaker, Seema “Vegas” Sadekar’s bling wouldn’t be welcome…
And of course, Christina Kim just might be walked to the door or asked to change hats…
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love what all these ladies are wearing. Each one brings her own style to the game of golf and it’s fun, fashionable, flirty and sometimes funky. And although I’m not a big fan of tummy tanning while swinging, I do think it’s time for private clubs to take a look at what’s happening outside of their garden walls and realize that the times, they are a changing.
When looking at the average age at many private clubs,you’d probably think you’re looking at retirement homes, not sports clubs.
And most young people aren’t interested in joining fuddy duddy clubs where their parents and grandparents hang out. And for good reason – they don’t feel welcome.
I decided to browse around and see what dress codes were like at other clubs in Canada and the US. I was not surprised to learn that many still ban the following:
• Anything denim
• Tank or halter tops
• Caps and clothing with commercial logos not related to golf or tennis
• Un-tucked shirts
• Cargo pants or shorts
• Shorts, skirts, and dresses more than X inches above the knee (where X = 4”, 6” or 8”). At Oakmont country club where the LPGA played this year’s US Open, it’s only 1 inch.
• Hats worn backwards
• Bandannas or headbands (Sorry Kim Welch and Pelle Edberg!)
• Socks more than 2” above the shoe (unless they are knee socks)
• Golf sandals
What kills me about these rules is that the pro shops are selling the same clothing and shoes that they ban on their own courses. My girlfriend bought 3 pairs of shorts at her club’s pro shop this summer, only to discover that she wasn’t allowed to wear them 10 feet outside the change room.
Another woman who was a guest of one of the golf pros at a private club in town, was wearing shorts the Starter didn’t think were appropriate. The golf pro thought the guest’s outfit was perfectly acceptable and said so. But the Starter wouldn’t let them play unless the woman put on a pair of men’s black rain pants that they pulled out of the lost and found. It was 90+ degrees outside and she was expected to wear black rain pants previously worn by a much larger man. Eeeew! Needless to say, the guest took a pass on playing. I don’t blame her.
I know we’ve come a long way in golf in some respects (women can play at most private courses if they’re willing to play in non-prime time) and I haven’t seen anyone kneel in front of a Starter in the past few years. But there’s no question…we’ve still got a long way to go.
This week I was asked to join the membership committee at our club. I thought the timing was quite coincidental, given my recent grumblings around membership rules and regulations. Although I have no idea where I’ll get the time for this, I decided I had to join. I can’t just keep ranting and raving about issues like this. It’s time for me to put my time and effort where my mouth is. Wish me luck!