Women's golf apparel has in recent years broken the mold from its traditional looks of knee length shorts and collared shirts. But now the LPGA seems to be taking a step backwards with its new dress code policy which restricts female athletes apparel choices even further.
Players received an email marked "Important" from LPGA President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman on July 2 that outlined the new dress code policy and warned they would face a $1,000 fine for any violations.
The updated policy was listed as follows:
- - 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
Some players on the PGA tour, like Ricky Fowler, are known to sport highlighter hues and bold outfits that break with traditional golf wear. Young women on the LPGA tour such as Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson often wear athletic racerback tanks and skirts with spandex underneath, similar to those seen on tennis courts.
Why is the LPGA cracking down on what professional women golfers can wear at its tournaments and events?
The tour's chief communications and tour operations officer Heather Daly-Donofrio told ABC News that this policy was a clarification and update to the standing dress code regulations.
"We simply updated our existing policy with minor clarifications, which were directed by our members for our members. This is not a regression, but rather a clarification for members of the policy, with references relevant to today's fashion styles," Daly-Donofrio said. "There was not meant to be, nor will there be, a discernible difference to what players are currently wearing out on Tour."
ESPN-W Columnist Sarah Spain weighed in on the updated dress code this morning on "Good Morning America."
"In our society, we have a lot of trouble separating women from their sexuality," Spain said.
"It feels like the men’s dress code is really about tradition and professionalism and it feels like the women’s dress code -- particularly the way it’s written in all caps -- feels like it’s chastising," Spain added. "It’s really not about what’s best for the golf game or tradition or professionalism, it’s really about that fear of sexualization."
The changes, which went into effect on Monday, were a hot topic of conversation at the biggest tournament of the season, last weekend.
In his review of the U.S. Women's Open for Golf magazine, Alan Shipnuck noted that "there was a wide divergence of opinion" on the updated dress code.
Prominent LPGA player Sandra Gal said after the tournament that she disagreed with most of the edict.
"The only point I agree with is that there should not be low-cut tops, but I've never really seen that be an issue," Gal said, according to Golf. "I think racerbacks look great on women and I think short skirts have been around forever, especially in tennis, and I don't think it's hurt that sport at all, considering they play for the same prize money as the men."
"Our main objective is clear: play good golf," Gal continued. "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?"
Christina Kim said, according to Golf magazine, "I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but this is our place of business and I think players should look professional." She added that some players that are not regulars on the tour, but compete in some events, may need the clarification of guidelines.