Why Do Golfers Wear Polo? (Explained!)

Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Alex PT

Golfers wear polo shirts for comfort, style, and tradition. Polo shirts provide freedom of movement, breathability, and a professional appearance. Their collars help protect the neck from sun exposure and are a standard dress code on golf courses worldwide.

  • Fact: Polo shirts were first introduced in the early 1900s as a casual alternative to dress shirts.
  • Number: Over 80% of golfers wear polo shirts when they play.

Why Do Golfers Wear Polo?

Golfers wear polo shirts for several reasons, combining functionality, tradition, and style:

  1. Comfort: Polo shirts are typically made from lightweight, breathable materials like cotton or moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics. This helps golfers stay cool and comfortable during long rounds on the course, especially in warm weather.
  2. Freedom of Movement: Polo shirts are designed with a relaxed fit and often have a slightly longer back hem, allowing golfers to swing their clubs freely without restriction. The loose fit enhances the golfer’s range of motion.
  3. Professional Appearance: Golf is often associated with a sense of tradition and decorum. Polo shirts convey a neat and professional look on the golf course, aligning with the sport’s etiquette.
  4. Collar for Sun Protection: The collar on a polo shirt provides a degree of protection for the golfer’s neck against the sun’s harmful UV rays. It can be turned up to shield the neck even further.
  5. Dress Code: Many golf courses have dress codes that require players to wear collared shirts. Polo shirts meet this criterion, ensuring that golfers adhere to the course’s rules and maintain a certain level of decorum.
  6. Brand and Sponsorship: Golfers often wear polo shirts with logos of their sponsors or favorite golf brands, contributing to brand visibility and endorsement deals.
  7. Versatility: Polo shirts are versatile and can be worn on and off the golf course. They transition well from sports to casual settings, making them a practical wardrobe choice.
  8. Traditional Heritage: Polo shirts have been a part of golf’s attire since the sport’s early days. This tradition has endured over time, contributing to the enduring popularity of polo shirts in golf.
  9. Temperature Regulation: The breathable fabric of polo shirts helps regulate body temperature by wicking moisture away from the skin, keeping golfers cool in hot conditions and providing a light layer of warmth when it’s cooler.

Do You Have to Wear Polos for Golf?

While many golf courses have dress codes that require collared shirts like polos, the specific dress code policies can vary. Here’s a detailed explanation of wearing polos for golf:

Polos Are Often Required:

  1. Traditional Dress Code: Many golf courses maintain a traditional dress code that mandates collared shirts, often polos, as a standard requirement for play. This dress code is in place to uphold the sport’s traditions and etiquette.
  2. Private and Exclusive Clubs: Private and upscale golf clubs tend to have stricter dress codes, often requiring golfers to wear collared shirts as part of a polished and professional appearance expected from members and guests.
  3. Tournament Play: When participating in organized tournaments or competitions, collared shirts like polos are typically mandatory. Tournament organizers often enforce a formal dress code to maintain a uniform and professional image for participants.

Alternatives to Polos:

  1. Mock Turtlenecks: Some golf courses accept mock turtleneck shirts as an alternative to polos, as they provide a neat and collar-like appearance.
  2. Performance Golf Shirts: Modern golf apparel includes performance-based shirts made from moisture-wicking, breathable materials. Some courses accept these if they maintain a tidy appearance.

Casual and Municipal Courses:

  1. Casual Dress Codes: Public or municipal golf courses often have more relaxed dress codes, and collared shirts may not be strictly required. However, it’s still advisable to check the specific course’s dress code policy in advance.
  2. Warm-Up Facilities: Dress codes may be less stringent for golfers using driving ranges or practice facilities, where comfort and performance take precedence over traditional attire.

Tips for Dressing for Golf:

  1. Check the Dress Code: Always review the dress code of the specific golf course you plan to visit. Dress code policies can vary widely, even within the same region.
  2. Err on the Side of Formality: If in doubt, it’s advisable to wear a collared shirt, such as a polo, to ensure compliance with the dress code. You can choose from a wide variety of stylish and comfortable golf-specific apparel.
  3. Respect the Tradition: Recognize that golf has a strong tradition of etiquette and decorum. Wearing appropriate attire, including collared shirts, is a sign of respect for the game and fellow golfers.

Is a Golf Shirt Different from a Polo Shirt?

A golf shirt and a polo shirt are similar in many ways, but there are subtle differences, particularly in terms of style and functionality. Here’s a detailed comparison:

Golf Shirt:

  1. Origin: The term “golf shirt” is often used interchangeably with “polo shirt.” Historically, golf shirts referred to the collared shirts worn by golfers, which eventually led to the popularization of the polo shirt.
  2. Collar Style: Golf shirts typically feature a traditional collar, similar to what you’d find on a dress shirt. The collar stands up and can be buttoned up to the top, offering a more formal appearance.
  3. Button Placket: Golf shirts usually have a buttoned placket, often with two or three buttons. This allows for adjustability and adds a touch of formality.
  4. Material: Golf shirts are typically made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics, making them well-suited for the physical demands of golf. They prioritize comfort and performance on the course.
  5. Fit: The fit of a golf shirt tends to be slightly looser and more relaxed, providing ease of movement during the golf swing. It allows golfers to swing freely without feeling constricted.
  6. Occasions: While golf shirts are designed with golf in mind, they can also be worn in semi-formal or casual settings, making them versatile for various occasions.

Polo Shirt:

  1. Origin: The term “polo shirt” originated from its use in polo matches, where players wore shirts with a buttoned placket to prevent flapping. It was then adapted for golf and other sports.
  2. Collar Style: Polo shirts typically feature a ribbed collar that lies flat when not buttoned. The collar is often more casual and sporty in appearance.
  3. Button Placket: Polo shirts also have a buttoned placket, usually with two to three buttons. The placket is functional but less formal than a golf shirt.
  4. Material: Like golf shirts, polo shirts are made from comfortable and breathable materials. They are suitable for sports and casual wear.
  5. Fit: Polo shirts tend to have a more tailored and body-hugging fit compared to golf shirts. They are often considered more stylish and are associated with a sleeker look.
  6. Occasions: Polo shirts are versatile and can be worn in casual, business casual, and sporty settings. They are a go-to choice for many casual occasions.

In summary, while golf shirts and polo shirts share common features, such as collars, buttoned plackets, and comfortable materials, they have distinct style differences.

The Secret Behind Golf Club Dress

Golf Club Dress

The main reason behind golf courses’ requirement for collared shirts is to create a sense of respectability and professionalism.  When a golfer hits the green, he wants to appear professional with a sense that he takes the game seriously.

Rocking collared shirt projects the right self-image and makes a good and last impression on both golfers and spectators alike. A uniform dress code helps reduce and possibly eliminate distractions whilst on the course.

Does Clubhouse Have A Similar Dress Code?

Clubhouse rules are more flexible than those upheld on the golf course. A collar is still the minimum requirement, but you are still allowed to wear other types of clothing as well. This allows golfers to change into something comfier after they finish their rounds.

Are Golf Shirts Different From Polo Shirts?

A collared shirt is generally accustomed to clubs’ dress code, ever wondered if polos make suitable golf shirts? Fundamentally, both polo and golf shirt styles are similar but polos are thicker while golf shirts are generally thinner and are made to be moisture-absorbing.

If you are unsure about what to wear, it’s always advisable to keep it safe and dress in unison with your course’s guidelines. In doing so, you’ll avoid any/every form of disgraceful mishaps and stay focused on your game.

Golf Clothing Etiquette

Golf Clothing Etiquette

Polo Shirts

Collared shirts are preferred, the most suitable choice for both men’s and women’s clothing is a polo. A typical polo has a collar that sits around your neck and with an opening upfront with buttons downwards.

Polo is best for both casual and formal golf events because they are stylish, comfortable, and depicts professionalism.

If you happen to be playing golf at an exotic club, then your polo should be clean and well-ironed. It’s also worth mentioning that you do not rock any polo that is too visually impressive or revealing; always keep it simple as a white polo and khaki trouser would suffice.


An important part of your clothing is a good pair of trousers. Dress trousers are just preferably for golf as they provide adequate comfort with a lot of allowance for movement. Their dressy appearance will also help you fit in with other golfers at a fancy golf course.

When you are shopping for golf trousers, be sure that it slim or tailored-fitted. This is important because if they ain’t they can pose a distraction to you on the course.  You should also look out for trousers with thinner fabric that will help keep you cool and dry under the scorching sun.

Shorts & Golf Sharks 

Just a handful of courses mind if women’s golf clothing is not comprised of shorts or skorts, it’s always safe to check in advance. When you are choosing a pair of shorts or skorts, be sure that the fabric is thin enough with a relaxing fit, keeping you cool and comfy whilst on the course. 


As shorts are becoming a norm in golf, some golf club still requires members to match long socks provided if they are wearing/or plan to wear shorts. Depending on your clubhouse but if you would be hitting the green on shorts it’s safe to bring matching socks just in case.

Golf Shoes

The most important part of your golf clothing is Golf shoes! Golf shoes are ideal for golf for reasons such as; stability, traction, and waterproof which keep golfers dry in wet terrain or weather.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Golf Clubs Have A Dress Code?

Many Clubhouses require golfers to wear particular clothing associated with the clubhouse before hitting the green. The reason behind the dress code is to uphold respectability and professionalism. Golfers should always appear smart in their dress code leaving a lasting impression on them and spectators alike.

Is A Polo Required At Every Golf Course?

Most clubhouse usually requires golfers to always rock a polo but sometimes it’s not so with all clubhouses. The safest thing to do is ask about your clubhouse dress policy to avoid any/all forms of embarrassment about your choice of clothing.

Is Denim Allowed On Golf Courses?

Denim jeans and shorts are not allowed on golf courses because they negate the professionalism of golf and constitute a distraction to golfers. 

Can You Play Golf In Shorts?

Of course, you can play golf in shorts but before you do you must check in with your clubhouse rules and requirements. Most clubhouses allow golfers to hit the green with shorts but matching long socks must be used alongside it.

Women are also allowed to wear shorts or a skirt when they hit the green, but still, it’s not universal but unique to each clubhouse. Hence be sure to check in with the clubhouse before rocking shorts or skirts.

Is There A Polo Color Preference?

No, clubhouses always allow for varying colors of a polo shirt on the green, if you are playing at an exotic clubhouse then it would be advised you keep it simple.

Final Thoughts

Golf is played with polo shirts because it represents the respectability and professionalism the game professes. Moreso, other golf clothing includes; a pair of trousers, shorts or storks, socks, and golf shoes.

Remember when selecting golf clothing be sure the material is thin, comfortable, and tailored fit because these can rub off on your golfing performance.



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