New LPGA dress code rules spark debate among players

Last Updated Jul 19, 2017 4:12 PM EDT

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) made changes to its dress code for players that went into effect this week, issuing new guidelines banning leggings, "plunging necklines" and shorts or skirts that don't sufficiently cover a player's "bottom area."

The new rules have sparked a debate among current and former players and commentators, with critics saying the dress code is unnecessary and condescending, while supporters contend the changes were needed to clarify the existing dress code.

LPGA President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman sent an email to players on July 2 outlining the changes. Goetze-Ackerman said the dress code now prohibits the following:

  • Racerbacks
  • Plunging necklines
  • Leggings
  • Skirts, skorts or shorts that don't cover "your bottom area"
  • Workout gear, jeans and joggers

The rules went into effect on Monday at the organization's Marathon Classic in Toledo, Ohio. 

Heather Daly-Donofrio, a spokeswoman for the LPGA, told CBS News the dress code was updated at the request of players who wanted clarification on existing policies, calling the changes "minor."

"Players asked us to update the existing dress code to include references relevant to today's fashion trends and golf wear," Daly-Donofrio said. "If you're a fan watching the telecast this weekend, you're not going to notice a difference."

Women in Sport, a British group that advocates for gender equality in sports, criticized the new policies, saying in a statement that "women and girls should wear what makes them feel comfortable when taking part in sport."

"We should always focus on the talent and athleticism of our female sport stars as opposed to their appearance," a spokeswoman for the group told the Golf Channel.

Some players said they were surprised by the reaction to the updated guidelines and brushed off the new rules.

"I honestly have been shocked by the response to it," 11-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis said at the Marathon Classic. "You look at other sports, the NFL, the NBA, they have a dress code when they're playing ... You guys with your jobs, you probably have a dress code, as well. I honestly don't understand the kick-back."


Stacy Lewis hits her tee shot on the 12th hole during the third round of the 2017 KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club on July 1, 2017, in Olympia Fields, Ill.


LPGA pro Christina Kim said players "should look professional" and defended the guidelines.

"Do you really need ventilation for your side-boob? It's not going to make your score better," she said, according to the Golf Channel.

However, not all players agreed with the move. Sandra Gal, another LPGA pro, said she agreed with the ban on low-cut tops, but has "never really seen that be an issue." She said she disagreed with the other restrictions.

"Our main objective is clear: play good golf," Gal said, according to the Golf Channel. "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? I've talked to a few other players and, like me, they don't agree with it, either."