Golf in the (United) Kingdom: No Need to Pack Shorts

like this Lower right: the shorts rule at Hillside Golf Club, May, 2010. When I played Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2008, on assignment for Golf Digest, a local man in the group ahead of mine was wearing shorts—a great rarity on golf courses almost anywhere in the British Isles. A sign at Hillside Golf Club (a fantastic non-Open course, next door to Birkdale, where I’d played the afternoon before) warns golfers that shorts are permitted only if they are “tailored” and worn with “tall hose”—a requirement that neatly defeats the purpose of wearing shorts. Lytham used to have a similar rule, but relaxed it after a busload of barelegged Americans exhausted the golf shop’s supply of tall hose.

Tony at Hillside, properly attired, on a later trip, May, 2010.

The first hole at Hillside doesn’t look like much, but the course gets better and better from there, and the second nine is really terrific. (Greg Norman once called it the greatest second nine in Britain.)  The tenth is a “short” par 3, which plays uphill and into the prevailing wind to a seemingly sheltered but impossible green. You watch the group ahead of you nosing around for lost balls on every side. They wave your group up, and then you lose all your balls, too.

Tenth hole, Hillside.

Toward the end of my round in 2008, I got stuck behind four bad golfers, one of whom was constantly throwing up grass to gauge the direction of wind that was so strong it was knocking over his golf bag. I passed the time by chatting with four visitors from the Isle of Man, who had caught up to me from behind. They gave me a British 10-pence coin with the Manx triskelion—the symbol of the Isle of Man—on the reverse. It was my favorite ball marker until I lost it.

The three legs of Man: my favorite ball marker until I lost it.


5 thoughts on “Golf in the (United) Kingdom: No Need to Pack Shorts

  1. I never wore shorts in England, but here in New Zealand everybody wears shorts and no one bats an eyelid. It is a great help in the summer, helps keep you a bit cooler.

  2. If it is over 20C (70F) in North America now and you don’t wear shorts, people look at you funny.

    Never worn shorts in England. Only once wore shorts in NZ – at Gulf Harbour. On two trips it has never gotten hot enough really.

    The other tricky thing of wearing shorts overseas is knowing how short the socks can be. Although in Australia they mostly allow shorts with out knee high socks, many clubs aren’t keen on the North American style “sockettes” which show the ankle.

  3. It’s not rare for people to wear shorts on golf courses in the uk. When I played last week there were lots of players wearing shorts. This is lazy, assumptive writing. It’s also plain wrong.

  4. I once went to a vendor presentation at a country club mid-week that was followed by a round on the vendor. Not knowing the dress code for the club, I opted for pants, even though it was about 85F. I was somewhat shocked that virtually everyone was in shorts, even for the presentation portion of the day…

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