On Wearing Hats Indoors

When I was a lad, I was told that polite men don’t wear hats inside buildings, and I must have internalized that concept because I almost always reflexively take off my golf cap when I pass through a door. Or so I believe. But it would be hard for me or anyone else to argue that indoor hat removal—unlike, say, rescuing kittens or not stealing other people’s rangefinders—has obvious, inherent social value. It’s just a custom that some people in some cultures have decided they care about, probably because someone at some point told them they ought to care about it (but not why). And in some other cultures covered heads have an entirely different significance, which supersedes the broodings of golf-club house committees.

One golf-related difficulty with indoor-hat prohibitions is that they can make it hard to spot the stranger you just played with, when you try to find him in the bar after your round. (“Were you bald on the golf course, too?”) Another problem is that wearing a hat for several hours on a hot day can do terrible things to the hair of people who do have hair, even if they try to repair it in the locker room before going to lunch. Still another is that posting signs about hats, as a couple of clubs I’ve visited in recent years now do, seems less civilized than forgetting to take them off—like putting up signs that say “Chew with your mouth closed” or “Shake hands when you meet someone new.” It may be true that “gentlemen” generally remove their hats when they go inside, but if you visit gentlemen’s houses you won’t find signs reminding them to do it.

A friend of mine once took three guests to his golf club, and after their round they reconvened in the grill room for a beer. The guests were still wearing their golf caps, in violation of the club’s “no-covers-under-cover” policy, which they didn’t know about, and, before their host could warn them, the club president “walked over, stuck his head between mine and theirs, and loudly asked me to ask them to remove their hats.” In doing so, he ruined what until that moment had been a terrific day for four people, and to what end? No matter what you think about the wearing hats indoors, pointlessly creating humiliating spectacles is worse. As the etiquette authority Amy Vanderbilt wrote in 1952, “Some of the rudest and most objectionable people I have ever know have been technically the most ‘correct.’”

6 thoughts on “On Wearing Hats Indoors

  1. When I was a lad, my grandfather told me of his experiences in World War I and that mess halls and hospitals were often in the same rooms. The soldiers eating would take off their helmets in respect for the wounded and dying. Later, I heard this as the reason there were ‘no covers under cover’. I still take my hat off. There are many wounded in a grill room.

  2. The same a——s who wear their hat’s inside the golf clubhouse, can also be seen wearing their hats while seated at a table in Eddie V’s in Scottsdale. There’s no accounting to bad manners no matter where you are. I simply refuse to acknowledge uncouth behaviour and put it down to bad breeding or a genetic deficiency, or both….!

    • In my instance, it’s definitely “bad breeding”. My mother had a high school education and my father stopped school after the 8th grade. They grew up dirt poor, uneducated and ignorant to the world of your manners (and anger, apparently). They were humble and extremely hard working and put 6 children through college (and then 3 through law school, one through med school and two through business school). My father often wore a hat and that included inside. Maybe he “knew better”, more than likely he didn’t. That did not define him, his humility, his hard work, his devotion to his family or his simple dignity. He was an uneducated, simple man who never raised a hand in anger and I certainly never heard him “refuse to acknowledge” another person or call them an a_____e. Enjoy being “technically correct”.

  3. Pingback: On Wearing Hats Indoors | Golf Keola Life

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