It was not too long ago that we praised the LPGA for their forward-thinking dress code, which, considered more lenient than that upheld by its counterparts, was permitting its young, attractive stars to dress in a way that would appeal to the next generation of golfers.
The trailblazer in this trend was the most recognisable female golfer in the modern era, Michelle Wie, who, having never been afraid to break the mould, had begun to drag the sport into the 21st century with a series of athletic, eye-catching outfits.
Thus, came our surprise upon discovering that, as of this Monday, the LPGA will begin to enforce a stricter dress-code, with the new regulations targeting the collar-less racerback tops for which Wie has become synonymous.
Plunging neck-lines, leggings, and skorts that show a player’s ’bottom area’ (even if covered by under shorts), are also now to be banned from the fairways.
Anyone flouting these rules will be liable to a $1,000 fine.
Although the response from the media and public has largely been negative, LPGA tour’s communications and tour operations officer, Heather Daly-Donofrio told Golf Digest that the impetus for change has come from the player’s themselves.
“The dress code requires players to present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game. While we typically evaluate our policies at the end of the year, based on input from our players, we recently made some minor adjustments to the policy to address some changing fashion trends. The specifics of the policy have been shared directly with the members.”
While some golf fans have been quick to defend the Tour’s decision, the strict list of do’s and don’ts doesn’t chime well with the game’s drive to attract millennials into the sport. Indeed, at a time when the female game is beginning to exude an appeal that it has long sought, you can’t help but feel that this decision has the power to stop the positive momentum right in its tracks.
It will be interesting to see how the Tour plans to govern these new rules without descending into absurdity? After all, a neckline deemed appropriate on one player could easily be in danger of violating the LPGA’s new policy worn on someone with, to put it frankly, bigger breasts. While the idea of defining a ‘bottom area’ appears plainly ridiculous. Will officials now need to refer to a formula to define whether the glimpse of something deemed unsuitable over a particularly windy putt is now to be liable to a fine?
Claims by some golfers on social media that the Tour is slut-shamming reverberate with recent discussions over whether sexy social media stars are in danger of damaging the game, and you can’t help but wonder whether the LPGA’s decision to introduce these rules have been influenced by the rise of a group of women, such as Paige Spirinac, who have attained fame because of their looks rather than golfing prowess.
To tar the top players on the LPGA with the same brush however, is, at least in my humble opinion, wholly unfair. Michelle Wie, and her competitors, are athletes, and it only seems fitting that they should dress as such.
Others have suggested that the move is a result of complaints from the more exclusive courses that host LPGA events, or even from unhappy sponsors that the Tour is wishing to placate.
By singing to the hymn-sheet of the more conservative elements of society however, the LPGA has succeeded in showing just how out-of-touch the sport is with modern-day society, and at a time when the female game has finally begun to steal some of the spotlight, this outdated image could not have been projected at a more inopportune time.
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