Golf clothing then and now


by Stephanie J. Campbell

In the early 1900s, golfe rs wore long trousers, jackets and ties. Women wore long dresses and specially made jackets with wider sleeves that would allow them to swing their clubs more easily. In the 1920s, golfers such as Walter Hagen wore jackets, sweaters and knickers with long cotton stockings and a golf cap.

In the early days of golf, style also provided protection from the sun.

As we move forward into the 1930s, the short-sleeved knitted shirts became popular. By the 1950s, golfers were sporting loose-fitting pants and lightweight polo shirts. In the 1960s and 1970s, women went from wearing long skirts to Bermuda shorts and short skirts.

If you look at photos from the past, it is evident that as we’ve moved into the 21st century, our golf clothing has become more stylish and comfortable, but they provide less sun protection. It’s obvious in photos of our favorite players that a golf cap and short-sleeved polo is no match for the many hours they spend in the sun. Just look at any photo of a pro player without his or her golf cap on. Half of their face is tanner and weathered looking. During the peak of the Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer era, does anyone remember either of them wearing any kind of protective headgear?

There are many clothing companies that now offer a full line of men’s and women’s golf apparel that provides effective, long-lasting protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) is a good choice for men and women who spend a lot of time outside. Choose items with UPF of 30 or higher. These block out up to 98 percent of UV light from the sun.

Golf is one of the most sun-intense sports we play, and taking a few precautions will help lower your chances of getting skin cancer and sun damage.

Basic tips to follow: Wear long sleeves and long pants • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that covers your ears and shades your neck and face • Wear large-framed sunglasses with 99-100 percent UVA/UVB protection • Remember sunscreen on areas that are not covered up, like your ungloved hand, neck and lips • While waiting to take your shot, stand in the shade or stay under cover in your golf cart.

There is hope for the future with non-profit organizations such as the Skin Cancer Institute promoting their Protect Your Skin sunscreen stations to golf courses ( and the Sun Safe Tee organization out of California who are working to help educate junior golfers and adults about sun safety and skin cancer (