Golf coach criticised for relaxed dress code rule

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 21, 2019 07:34

A golf coach has hit out at golf club officials who are ‘stuck in the 19th century’ after being criticised on social media for allowing his students to play in tracksuit bottoms and hoodies.

Thomas Devine, director of Oulton Hall’s FUEL golf (FUture ELite) programme, posted a picture on Twitter of some of his young students practising their putting, with the words ‘You let children play in hoodies and tracksuit bottoms? Yeah, we do. It’s the playing that’s important’.

The coach was amazed by the response it received, with nearly 400,000 views and many comments – but not all in favour.

He did, however, gain support on the social media site from former Ladies European Tour star-turned-TV presenter Henni Zuel, who retweeted the picture and added: ‘This! I fully support this and am a firm believer in getting rid of dress codes. Fullstop. Not an amendment or softening, just no dress code.’

Devine came under fire from some traditionalists for ignoring the sport’s dress code but he maintains there is a need to make young children feel at ease when teaching them the rudiments of the game.

He said: “It’s important when these youngsters are six, seven, eight, that any barriers to them feeling interested in or enthused about golf are removed – and that involves the way they dress. If they feel comfortable in trainers and a hoodie then that’s the way we should allow them to dress.

“We still teach them manners, respect and the etiquette of the game – that doesn’t come out of a glossy apparel catalogue. At that age they just want to play. What’s more, I believe we should remove the barrier of cost by allowing children to wear their everyday clothing. We are coaching 21st-century children – we are not stuck in the 19th century and only accepting the offspring of the privileged classes.

“As they get older they, inevitably, want to dress as their idols, so they end up buying what McIlroy or Fowler wears. But when they start out the priority is enjoyment, not conformity. We teach them the things they want to be taught.”

Devine regularly teaches more than 170 juniors, aged between five and 16, each week, and has never had any complaints about the relaxed dress code.

He added: “The irony of these people using a 21st-century technology to criticise those of us who are moving with the times and embracing change appears lost on them. We will continue to allow the youngsters to wear what they’re comfortable in, whether it’s trackie bottoms and a T-shirt or tailored golf trousers and a £60 branded polo.”

Oulton Hall, near Leeds, features 27 holes designed by leading golf course architect Dave Thomas and outstanding practice facilities, boasting the north of England’s leading golf performance centre.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 21, 2019 07:34
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  1. Craig May 14, 15:46

    I have personally worked on a course where a lady member rushed out of the club house with a tape measure and proceeded to measure a teenage girls skirt. Subsequently telling the girl she could not play. Who new legs and tracksuits could be so offensive to the old!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Warren May 15, 08:11

    If you want more children into the game dress code should be optional no wonder golf clubs have small junior members get with the 2019 age

    Reply to this comment
  3. Glenn May 15, 11:13

    Not great for the golf pro who stocks junior clothing…

    Reply to this comment
  4. Dave May 16, 06:36

    We need kids to play regardless of dress code

    Reply to this comment
  5. Brian May 16, 11:48

    My club has a dress code for junior which is similar to the audit apart from foot ware in the clubhouse. We have over 200 Junior members and 40 to 50 playing on a regular or semi regular basis. It not about dress code it about the atmosphere and those who encourage the youngster both at home and in and around the club.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Peter May 17, 10:57

    We’re still talking about dress codes ? That’s one way to become irrelevant ! Dress codes are one of the many “best practices” that must be addressed and changed. We need to be developing “next practices’ that will help us to survive and thrive ! Relaxed dress codes is one those ! Today, informal is the word of the day, not only on the course but in the clubhouse and restaurant ! Some. with a much higher end value proposition can afford to stick with some traditional rules, even as they attack the status quo ! The golf coach is showing what good leadership does…they change the game ( sorry, no pun ) and develop next practices ! Instead of criticising, give him a raise…he probably created a sustainable model !

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  7. Tim May 19, 15:03

    Agree with every word . . . this guy deserves a medal. Sadly, I suspect golf will never be dragged kicking and screaming into the real world. Not letting kids or their parents wear jeans inside a clubhouse? An educated guess tells me that alone cuts potential new families who would otherwise be attracted to the sport by at least 50% and probably a lot more.

    Reply to this comment
    • Peter May 20, 11:28

      Too many clubs and leadership believe great golf alone will drive membership… they’re wrong ! People join for the social aspects, recreational aspects follow. People also want to be around people like themselves and few like restrictive rules and regulations. Members, especially prospective members. place little importance on such rules, having little to do with great experiences. Progressive managers and leaders understand this ! They’re the ones’ adopting policies that reflect their primary markets and society !

      Reply to this comment
  8. GavinR May 23, 17:58

    Couldn’t agree more. The point that Thomas is making is that of accessibility. In England, only 3% of golfers are U18’s compared with the European average of 8%. If this trend continues, courses will be closing in their hundreds. We have to connect with kids, as young as possible, before they get addicted to tech. Make golf accessible, easy to learn and we will have golfers for life.

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  9. Mark May 28, 11:27

    I saw his tweet and was supportive of it. I’ve played golf since I was a junior so have been in and around golf clubs for 30 years or so. He is spot on but I was staggered at how many people on twitter rounded on him (and me!) in support of collars and “appropriate” attire, whatever that actually is. If so called golf clothing wasn’t so prohibitively priced for many then I’m sure more would wear it but for now, let people play in what makes them comfortable and let’s get over this elitist attitude the game carries.

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