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What to Wear and Bring to a Golf Tournament: A Spectator's Guide

PGA 2012 - Kiawah Island, SC

PGA 2012 - Kiawah Island, SC

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


Modest sundress

Graphic tees


Tube tops

Sleeveless or short-sleeved blouse/shirt

Spaghetti straps

Shorts or skort (nice slacks in cooler weather)


Wide-rimmed hat, visor, or cap


Sturdy sandals


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




Nice shorts


Golf shirt

Gym shorts

Oxford button down shirt

Tank tops


Tee shirts

Solid-colored wind breaker

Golf shoes (spikes)

Tennis shoes, sturdy sandals, or loafers


2012 PGA tournament

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:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • 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)
  • Coolers
  • Alcohol
  • Weapons
  • Large chairs with wide armrests
  • Signs
  • Radios
  • 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 than 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 toward 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.

© 2012 Sarah Johnson


Cindy on June 17, 2019:

Ladies...please don't stress this topic! I was just at the US Open in Pebble Beach and being from here I can tell don't dress Pebble...Pebble dresses you! Sure it would be cute to wear the new sundress and matching crossbody but it is not practical for the weather in Pebble. I was sporting a pair of leggings and a lightweight packable puffer with some comfy tennis shoes and felt amazing all day! If I had shown up in the sundress all of the other women dressed in leggings would have thought I was showing off and rightfully so.

Linsey Rich on April 26, 2018:

I wear jeans, a t-shirt with the sleeve cut off and a bandana around my head. on June 20, 2016:

Can you carry a pull string back pack to carry your sunscreen and bug spray and rain gear?

Darrell Kindley from Fort Worth, TX on April 04, 2016:

Awesome hub. I wish everyone would follow your advice!

Steve on August 15, 2015:

Under the don'ts I saw golf shoes. This all depends on the venue. I recently attended the PGA Championship at Whistling Straights. NOT wearing golf shoes is dangerous. The course is filled with hills and slippery grass. I couldn't tell you how many people I saw bail for the sides of mounds or trying to go up or down hills. 5 of the 6 people I attended with wore golf shoes. Only one of us fell. Can you guess which one?

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 25, 2013:

Thank you all for your comments! With school starting, I have been away from my "desk"and missed this.

JR Krishna from India on August 20, 2013:

I have never gone to a golf tournament. It is interesting to know the importance of dress code here

Voted up and shared

2uesday on August 20, 2013:

If ever the invitation arrives I will know what to wear now.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on August 20, 2013:

Congratulations on HOTD, well deserved! I thought this was an informative and interesting article on what to wear and bring to a golf tournament. You offered some great tips for both men and women. I think it is important for people to know protocol. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on August 20, 2013:

Nice guide! Congrats!

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on August 20, 2013:

Though I never played this game, I love it. What attracts me is the serene beauty of the place it is being played. It is a lovely game and enjoyable watching. You have given some valuable tips on it. Informative and useful. Thank you for sharing. Voted up and shared.

Lavender Jade from Derbyshire on August 20, 2013:

Hi chaplin Speaks, great hub, although I do not go, my husband and son have been to quite a few tournaments in the UK, and what they seem to need it anything to keep you dry. They have been rained off quite a few times!

Harry from Sydney, Australia on August 20, 2013:

As a golfer I can't attest the important proper attire enough!

This is a wonderful guide..thumbs up :)

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 17, 2012:

Hi, Teresa. I hope you do get a chance to go to a big golf tournament. It is an interesting experience even if you don't play golf.

Hi, teaches12345. I am sure you looked great at the PGA tournament you attended. Even though modern attire seems to get more and more revealing and casual, I have to say that the majority of the PGA spectators this year dressed conservatively and sensibly. We were a pretty tame crowd with the exception of the two brothers that climbed the score board and changed the letters to their last name as leaders in the game!

Dianna Mendez on August 17, 2012:

Voted useful and interesting. We attended a PGA tournament and this would have helped to make sure we were properly dressed. I don't think we broke any of the rules, but it would have been great to verify it!

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on August 16, 2012:

Well done and interesting. My dad is an avid golf fan and I have a husband and son who enjoy playing the game. The tables of do's and don'ts are very helpful. I don't know if we'll ever make it to a game but we'll certainly know how to prepare ourselves if we get the opportunity.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 14, 2012:

Thanks, K9. I have to say that I have only been a spectator and never really played that much golf! My husband gave it a try years ago, but now has been inspired to take some lessons. Maybe I will join him.......

India Arnold from Northern, California on August 14, 2012:

This is a fantastic guide for any new golfer, or new golf tournament fan! Your do's and don'ts charts are really helpful. This make me want to dust off the medal-woods and head out to the range. It has been longer then expected since I have hit a few. Your hub is inspiring. Great stuff here.


Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 12, 2012:

Hi, missolive. What to wear and bring to these golf tournaments is always something that comes up. The Masters is next, and I hope to get a ticket. Those are so sought after that you have to enter a lottery to "win" tickets!

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on August 11, 2012:

Good to know. I have never gone to a golf tournament. This is a great guide for determining the do's and don'ts of tournament dress code. Your gender related tables are especially helpful. I also found the What to Bring list useful as well.

Thank you for sharing an informative and useful hub.