What to Wear and Bring to a Golf Tournament: A Spectator's Guide
Whether you are going to one of the four major golf championships or another popular golf tournament, you need to know what to wear and what you are allowed to bring. Each tournament may vary on specific regulations, but there are some basic rules to follow.
In general, attire should be modest and sensible. What you bring in the gates should not distract the players or take away from the experience of fellow spectators. At a major golf tournament, you may be asked to leave if you do not follow the rules. Keep in mind that you are a guest, albeit a paying one!
What Should Women Wear to a Golf Tournament?
Women love to dress up for special occasions, and big golf tournaments are no exception. Golf is a civilized sport, and the atmosphere is quite reserved. Spectator attire should reflect this by being modest and tasteful. At the same time, you need to dress comfortably.
- You should avoid wearing clothes that are tight-fitting, low-cut, brightly colored, or skimpy.
- Classic styles work best and can be spruced up with some fashionable accessories. When I went to the 2012 PGA Championship, I added a chunky blue necklace and a matching small purse with long straps to jazz up my simple shorts and short-sleeved shirt outfit.
- Since guests will walk a lot through grass, sand, and sometimes mud to view the golf players, comfortable shoes are a must. A sturdy pair of sandals or some cute tennis shoes or flats are perfect. Heels are not recommended. If heels are a must, make sure they are wedge heels. Flip flops are not ideal since you can possibly sprain an ankle. They are also quite loud and can be distracting.
- Keep in mind that heavy makeup does not do well for outdoor events, especially in very warm weather. Use sunscreen and a light layer of makeup for a fresh look.
- A wide-brimmed hat or visor is recommended to keep the sun off your face.
Dos and Dont's for Women at Golf Tournaments
Sleeveless or short-sleeved blouse/shirt
Shorts or skort (nice slacks in cooler weather)
Wide-rimmed hat, visor, or cap
Comfortable flats or tennis shoes
Cardigan or windbreaker
What Should Men Wear to a Golf Tournament?
Like women, men should avoid overly casual clothes such as tee shirts, tank tops, jeans, and cut-offs. A classic outfit for the male spectator would be a nice pair of shorts or khakis and a golf shirt. Another option is a button-down oxford shirt, long or short-sleeved. Here are some tips:
- Wear neutral colors and nothing flashy. You could be distracting to golfers and the television audience.
- Solid colors look better than loud stripes or prints.
- Some clubhouses have dress policies that require collared shirts. Something like a polo shirt is recommended.
- Tuck in your shirt and wear a belt.
- Don't advertise your favorite sports team on your shirt or hat.
- Resist the temptation to wear your golf spikes. Comfortable tennis shoes will work best.
Dos and Dont's for Men at Golf Tournaments
Oxford button down shirt
Solid-colored wind breaker
Golf shoes (spikes)
Tennis shoes, sturdy sandals, or loafers
2012 PGA Tournament
What to Bring
Since you will be walking around the golf course most of the day, you don't want to lug around a bunch of items. If you are allowed to bring in a bag, a backpack with shoulder straps would be easy to carry. Many people had these at the 2012 PGA tournament on Kiawah Island. However, current PGA regulations no longer allow backpacks. Clear bags are recommended.
You may be surprised to know that children are welcome at the major golf tournaments. That said, running and rambunctious behavior is not allowed, so you will have to supervise young children.
These are some other items you may want to bring along:
- Bug spray
- Rain poncho
- Umbrellas without sleeve
- Binoculars without case
- Camera with lens smaller than six inches (only on practice rounds for major tournaments)
- Cell phone (must be on silent)
- Small portable folding chair without chair bags
- Money for parking, refreshments, and souvenirs
I learned something new at this year's PGA Championship. Plastic rain ponchos are a great investment. They are lightweight and easy to carry in your pocket or bag. An umbrella is more burdensome to carry and must be closed when the game is in play if you're in the stands.
What Not to Bring
Now that you know what you should bring, here are some things you should leave at home. Tournaments usually release a list of prohibited items, so always be sure to check those.
- Bags larger than a small purse (can't exceed 6 X 6)
- Clear bags larger than 12 x 6 x 12
- Metal, glass, or plastic cups or containers (exceptions are made for medical or infant needs)
- Pets (service animals are ok)
- Large chairs with wide armrests
- Video cameras
- Banners or signs
Golf Tournament Etiquette
Here is some advice on how to behave at a golf tournament.
- Only ask for an autograph before a competitor has entered the practice area or after they have left the scorer's area. There may be a special area designated for autographs.
- Don't try to directly talk to players on the course. Cheers and words of encouragement are fine, but don't try to start a conversation.
- Don't try to offer game advice. The competitors probably have a better idea of what to do then you do.
- Don't ever touch the ball. A shot can occasionally go out of bounds. Try to avoid a shot if it comes at you.
- Do not move, laugh, or talk when a player is preparing for their shot. Many players find these actions to be annoying and distracting.
- Avoid offensive language. Children may be present, and people who are offended are probably not going to be able to move away since these events can be very crowded.
- You should avoid making negative comments towards players. Family and friends of the golfer may be within earshot.
- Taunting or jeering at a player is considered very rude. Cheering is recommended after a golfer makes their shot.
- If alcohol is being served, don't drink too much. Inebriated spectators are often asked to leave.
- It is recommended that you don't smoke while you are in the gallery. If you must have a cigarette, leave the area and keep the direction of the wind in mind. No golfer wants to smell cigarette smoke as they calculate their shot.
- If the event is in the late afternoon, keep in mind where your shadow is. Try to keep it out of the golfer's line of sight. If you can't move it out of the way, try to keep very still.
- Be careful not to block the view of the people behind you.
The Four Major Golf Championships
Have you attended one of the four major golf championships?
© 2012 Sarah Johnson