‘Hell of a way to grow the game’: Rock star blasts golf course for…tattoo policy?!

Nathan Followill said a "bucket list" golf course did him wrong.

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Another day, another indignity inflicted on an innocent duffer by a club with stodgy codes.

Word of the alleged abuse came by way of Twitter, where the aggrieved golfer — Nathan Followill — described his mistreatment in this post:

“A Sydney bucket list golf course for me just went on the f—ck it list. I was told I would have to cover up my tattoos due to a ‘no tattoo policy.’ Welcome to the 1950’s and a hell of a way to grow the game.”

Followill, it should be noted, is the drummer for the Tennessee-born rock band Kings of Leon, so brandishing tattoos isn’t just his right. It’s his obligation.

But what about the flip side? Can a club justify cracking down on ink?

The Etiquetteist has long maintained that dress codes and other rules pertaining to appearance are arbitrary in nature. They don’t stand up to serious scrutiny. Why are khakis OK while jeans are forbidden? No good reason, other than the fact that a group of fuddy-duddies once declared it so.

Run down the list of common on-course policies: no tank tops, no short skirts, no shirts untucked, no caps worn backwards, no cargo pants. Private clubs have the right to establish codes. But that doesn’t mean there’s sound reasoning behind them. When it comes down to it, the only explanation for them is that some people are a bit uptight. 

golfer in parking lot
5 unwritten golf-etiquette rules that need to be retired immediately
By: Josh Sens

Golf in recent years has made a big deal of wanting to look more like the world around it. Like it or not, the world has grown more heavily tatted. What’s true of the crowd at your local cafe is also true of Tour pros. Seve Ballesteros, who had an image of himself imprinted on his arm, has since been joined in the annals by the inked-up likes of Rickie Fowler, Lydia Ko and Danny Willett. Bubba Watson has two green jackets, and his wife’s name inscribed in calligraphy on his ring finger.

The Etiquetteist is no great fan of tattoos. He believes that most are ugly, and that most people with tattoos wind up regretting them, whether they’re willing to admit it or not. But that doesn’t change his stance on tattoo policies. Unless the image is transparently offensive — a known emblem, say, of hate or discrimination — golf courses shouldn’t bar them. Followill is right about such policies harkening to the 1950s. They make the game look even sillier than most tattoos.

josh sens

Josh Sens

Golf.com Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.