We’ll be nominating Bouquets, Brickbats and Landmark Moments over the Christmas period including this unusual moment in LPGA history.
In 2017, women are entitled to dress as they please. Except on the LPGA Tour.
Paige Spiranac was a vocal opponent of the LPGA's dress code changes.
For an organisation that has made a lot of progress in raising the profile, sponsorship support and respect for its players in recent years, the LPGA took what some see as a significant step backwards in July when members received an email titled “Important”.
The communication read like a disciplinary note from a school head mistress and outlined a new code for what was - or more accurately what wasn’t - to be tolerated in terms of on-course clothing going forward.
A series of bullet points in the email laid out the following:
Racerback with a mock or regular collar are allowed (no collar = no racerback)
Plunging necklines are NOT allowed.
Leggings, unless under a skort or shorts, are NOT allowed
Length of skirt, skort, and shorts MUST be long enough to not see your bottom area (even if covered by under shorts) at any time, standing or bent over.
Appropriate attire should be worn to pro-am parties. You should be dressing yourself to present a professional image. Unless otherwise told “no,” golf clothes are acceptable. Dressy jeans are allowed, but cut-offs or jeans with holes are NOT allowed.
Workout gear and jeans (all colors) NOT allowed inside the ropes
Joggers are NOT allowed
Not surprisingly, the edict was controversial with opinion divided on whether or not the organisation had done the right thing.
Professional golfer Paige Spiranac, whose high profile is more a result of social media presence than on-course performance, was a vocal opponent of the new regulations while LPGA players Christina Kim and Stacey Lewis were both supporters.
“I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but this is our place of business and I think players should look professional,” Kim told Golf.com.
“Do you really need ventilation for your side-boob? It’s not going to make your score better.”
Players aside, the move was almost universally condemned in golf and non-golf media alike with several suggesting it would stifle the growth of the game, especially among younger women.
At a more serious level, several commentators said the implementation of the dress code was a way of body shaming women and contributed to an unhealthy culture.
American Michelle Wie is among many LPGA players who have long worn athletic clothing on the golf course.
“While the men’s dress code is all about ensuring players look smart, the LPGA’s standards seem obsessed with policing women’s bodies – targeting cleavages and skirt lengths,” wrote Marie Claire’s Megan C Hills.
“By focusing on ‘plunging necklines’ and a woman’s ‘bottom area’, professionalism takes a backseat.
“Instead these athletes’ bodies are being treated as sexual objects, implying that their breasts and legs somehow take away from their impressive athleticism.”
The changes to the dress code suggest a line in the sand has been drawn by the LPGA and significant numbers among its membership reside on each side.
It will continue to bubble away mostly unnoticed but rest assured that for the players and the Tour itself it is a more important issue than week-to-week tournament results.
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