New LPGA dress code edicts will take effect this weekend, limiting and monitoring the apparel of its professional tour players. LPGA players were sent an email earlier this month detailing the new, strict dress code rules. Sent by Player President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, the new regulations come with a hefty $1,000 fine for each violation.
Shirts or tops must have collars. An emphasis was made on no plunging necklines, limiting cleavage. The length of skirts, shorts and skorts, a pair of shorts with a flap across the front and sometimes the back, giving the appearance of a skirt, is also addressed. They must be long enough to not see a player’s bottom area, even if it’s covered by the shorts at any time, standing, or bent over.
There’s language referencing what’s deemed as appropriate attire to LPGA events and programs as well. “You should be dressing yourself to present a professional image,” as detailed in the letter by Goetze-Ackerman. “Unless otherwise told ‘no,’ golf clothes are acceptable. Dressy jeans are allowed, but cutoffs or jeans with holes are not.”
There hasn’t been a directive like this one in professional sports since October 2005 by the then Commissioner David Stern of the National Basketball Association implementing a mandatory dress code to start the season. The NBA was the first major professional sports league to implement such a rule, although it was mandatory for National Hockey League players to wear a jacket and tie to games and while traveling to road games, unless told that it was optional by the team’s head coach.
The NBA’s dress code was in response to a brawl that took place the year before in Detroit between players and fans during an Indiana Pacers versus Detroit Pistons game a year earlier. The directive was an attempt to improve the league’s reputation. It stated that all players must dress in business or conservative attire while arriving and departing a scheduled NBA game, and while sitting on the team’s bench, if not dressed in uniform for the game. The dress code banned fashions most often associated with urban or the hip-hop culture.
Allen Iverson, a player at that time stated, “The dress code is not who I am, and doesn’t allow me to express myself.”
“The only point I agree with is that there should not be low-cut tops, but I’ve never really seen that to be an issue,” said Sandra Gal, a top ranked golfer. “Short skirts have been around forever, especially in tennis, and I don’t think it hurts that sport at all.”
Some agree, so disagree, but what everyone agrees with is that the conservative nature of golf is the reason that it’s out of touch with gaining a younger audience.
“We simply updated our existing policy with minor clarifications, which were directed by our members, for our members,” stated Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA chief communications and tour operations officer. “This is not a regression, but rather a clarification for members of the policy, with references relevant to today’s fashion styles.”
“Our main objective is clear, play good golf,” said Gal. “But part of being a woman, and especially a female athlete, is looking attractive, and sporty, and fit. And that’s what women’s tennis does so well. Why shouldn’t we?”