Marolt: Feeling collared by golf etiquette
September 6, 2013
I have a short history with golf tournaments.
There was the Aspen Junior Golf tournament of 1984 that I got seventh place in and tried to forget about with a beer at the 19th hole. The abbreviated excuse is that it was a college-boy scam for a local kid's free season pass that went terribly wrong. The worst part was either that my fourth-grade neighbor won the thing or that my picture appeared in the paper with all the other winners and I was a foot taller than the next-biggest boy, except for my buddy Jeff, who got ninth place and was 4 inches taller than I was. Then there was the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club annual St. Patrick's Day tournament that I won on a detour walking home from the beach and with my scorecard seriously altered, signed and turned in by my ne'er-do-well roommate who had his eye on the case of Bailey's that came along with the first-place trophy.
This is all green water in front of the par-3 at this point, but I believe the experiences are enough to excuse my ignorance about not wearing a collared shirt to the golf course. I think those should be left to the aficionados and wannabes. The collar doesn't make the duffer, so they might as well let us be comfortable for another long round.
No sooner had I pulled into the parking lot last week at the Aspen muni course than my playing partner for the 22nd annual Harold Whitcomb Cup Senior Benefit Golf Tournament, Doug, greeted my "good morning" and in the same breath asked, "Don't you have a collared shirt?"
I had carefully selected a fancy black T-shirt for the event to go along with my checkered golf shorts. It was J. Crew, not a Motley Cru. It wasn't wrinkled or faded. It didn't even have a pocket. It is the trendy, soft Pima cotton kind with weirdly thin trim around the neck and arms that executives wear on weekends when they are pretending to relax by supervising the lawn boy with a Bloody Mary in their hand. I've worn it to dinner at the Viceroy and church the next morning. You definitely would be caught dead in the gym, or at the very least wish you were, if you wore this shirt to work out in.
"Don't you wear a collared shirt at the country club in Texas when you golf with your father-in-law?" Doug provoked.
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"Yes, but I assumed that was a Republican thing."
I checked in for the event — "It's nice to have you here. Do you have a collared shirt?" I went to the breakfast table — "Help yourself. Didn't you bring a collared shirt?" I saw lots of old friends — "No collared shirt?" "Where's your collar?" "You got a collared shirt in your bag?" I went to the rules briefing — "Blah, blah, blah, blah. No collared shirt, Roger?"
I admit that I've heard of the collared-shirt dress code, but I thought that went out with whitewall tires, two-martini lunches and drivers with heads that could be mistaken for the hood of a Mack truck. I think you should look respectable when you show up to the course, but I'm not sure a collar on your shirt ensures that. Think Elvis or Liberace.
Hasn't anyone told golfers that in sports, the referees, umpires and coaches wear collars? The athletes? Not so much. Even in tennis lots of players wear T-shirts, even if they are Gucci or Sergio Tacchini.
The only thing I can compare this pointless golf dress-code thing to is swimming in France. Did you know that if you desire to take a dip there and you happen to be a man, they require you to wear a Speedo-type swimsuit? If you don't have one, they'll get you one. It's enough to make you wonder if they have eyes. There's no good reason to explain it, they don't think twice about it, and it never gets hot enough in France to make an American male want to get anywhere near chlorinated water there.
I'm already planning my wardrobe for the next golf event. I've got the perfect collared shirt in mind. It's been in my mother's attic since the 1979 prom.
On my way home, I saw my neighbor, Bill, walking the dog. "I was driving by the golf course today and saw you coming off the 18th green," he said with a hint of surprise.
"Yeah," I replied and explained the tournament.
"Don't you have a collared shirt?"
Roger Marolt wonders if the smell of mothballs is against the golfers' dress code. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.