Golf’s dress code may be one of the most controversial aspects of the game. There are those who believe that it upholds etiquette, makes players respect each other and the course more and is in keeping with the history of the game.

There are others that view it as a tired remnant from a bygone era, that has its roots in elitism and has no place in modern society where training shoes can be as expensive and better looking than any fashionable golf shoe.

Indeed, now that many more golf shoes are coming to look like training shoes, is it time this dress code rule was dropped for good?


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You only have to visit any golf store, sports store or similar and browse through the golf shoes on offer to note that over the past five years or so, there has been a marked shift in design.

Until then, golf shoes were still very much shoes. Even sporting companies who made millions of pairs of training shoes and football boots each year, still styled their shoes along classic brogue lines.


However, in recent times, the distinction between what is a training shoe and what is a golf shoe has become ever blurred. Increasingly, companies are releasing golf shoes that have more in common with a training shoe than a traditional shoe.

By that we mean soft uppers, rubber soles and in colours (such as white) that are more generically associated with training shoes than golf shoes.



Given that nowadays, you can buy golf shoes that look almost exactly like training shoes very easily and affordably, is it now time for clubs to consider getting rid of the rule that bans training shoes from the course?

Of course, some people will see this as a somewhat pointless argument. Training shoes, in the same way as normal shoes, should not be used on a golf course, they’ll state, because golf shoes are the optimal footwear for the game of golf.


After all, you would not play in a soccer or rugby match without the correct boots, would you?

They will argue that it is less about the design of the footwear and all about its function.

That is certainly a fair point and for the vast majority of the year, I feel it is a very valid one.


That changes however when it comes to the height of summer, when courses, even with extensive watering, can become increasingly hard underfoot.



It is then that wearing golf shoes becomes not only uncomfortable, but also more impactful on the course. There is a good case here to say that training shoes are more beneficial to the course condition than golf shoes due to their flat soles. They are certainly more comfortable to wear.

To evidence that, you only need to visit a local municipal golf course where there are no rules regarding clothing in operation and the vast majority of golfers will be wearing training shoes to play in, simply because they are more comfortable to walk around the course in.


The other argument here is accessibility. If golf courses want to encourage the next generation of golfers, then being more flexible over clothing is a good first move. Allowing youngsters in particular to play in trainers does no harm to them, or the course, and means that they are more likely to play than if they (or their parents) are forced to spend a lot of money on a new pair of golf shoes every time their feet grow in size.


You can still play golf respectfully and with full regards to the rules of the game and its etiquette regardless of what is on your feet.

Golf has to adapt to the needs and wants of modern society and while some of golf’s fine traditions need to be safeguarded, some may need a little flexibility in how they are applied if golf is to increase in popularity once again, particularly in diminishing markets like the UK and Ireland and the US. Otherwise we risk losing another generation to a different game, all because of what they are not allowed to wear on their feet.


Images from Adidas Golf Facebook and FootJoy Facebook

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Abby May 20, 2019

A financial advisor is your planning associate.