An email outlining new dress code regulations for LPGA players surfaced last week, generating controversy and bewilderment. The dress code forbids racerback tank tops without a collar, short skirts, “plunging necklines,” leggings as pants, and joggers. While some fans rushed to defend the Tour’s crackdown, others were puzzled.
A list of strict no-no’s for golfers’ apparel doesn’t jibe well with professional golf’s stated mission to modernize the game and appeal to millennials. Players like Rickie Fowler and Michelle Wie, who compete in trendy, athletic-looking clothing, are seen as top ambassadors for the sport, especially to young people who might view golf as old-fashioned and stuffy.
The pros themselves had a mixed reaction to the new rules, according to reporting from Sports Illustrated‘s Alan Shipnuck at the U.S. Women’s Open. Sandra Gal didn’t agree with the prohibition on tank-tops or skirts of a certain length, although she understood the need to ban low-cut shirts.
“The only point I agree with is that there should not be low-cut tops, but I’ve never really seen that be an issue,” she said. “I think racerbacks look great on women and I think short skirts have been around forever, especially in tennis, and I don’t think it’s hurt that sport at all, considering they play for the same prize money as the men. Our main objective is clear: play good golf. But part of being a woman, and especially a female-athlete, is looking attractive and sporty and fit, and that’s what women’s tennis does so well. Why shouldn’t we? I’ve talked to a few other players and, like me, they don’t agree with it, either.”
Christina Kim, meanwhile, was all for the rules: “I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but this is our place of business and I think players should look professional. Do you really need ventilation for your side-boob? It’s not going to make your score better…There were a couple events earlier this year where we didn’t have our strongest fields and some players came from other tours or developmental tours and they’re not necessarily under contract with clothing companies and so there was some non-traditional outfits,” she said.
Jane Park downplayed the changes, saying that the email was really aimed at a select few offenders. “Most of us keep things pretty conservative, so this only really applies to a few people. Honestly, I don’t see why everyone is making such a big deal about it,” she said.
Sources at the LPGA told GOLF.com that these policy amendments were brought forward by players, and that they have been the topic of discussion for some time.