Hartford Golf Club
When Tyrrell Hatton won the BMW European Tour Championship last year, his wardrobe generated more buzz than his game. A hoodie ?! On a professional Tour ?! What radicality!
The ‘hoodie on the golf course’ debate was heated and the talk continued for weeks. Since then, hoodies have become more common on the course, but some private clubs have dug their studs into the ground, taking a stand against progressive hood wearers.
Take the Wearside Golf Club in England. Following Hatton’s victory, the club took the opportunity to send a reminder to its members.
“In light of Tyrell Hatton’s recent success and fashion statement and following discussions about it, may I draw your attention to the club dress code and re-emphasize that ‘hoodies’ are not are not acceptable golf clothing for Wearside Golf Club, nor in fact ripped designer jeans, ”the statement said. “I hope this will avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding on this matter.”
The rules and customs of golf clubs are almost as old as the game itself, but today a growing number of clubs are instead trying to shed the elitist reputation that the game has acquired.
A few hours southwest of Wearside Golf Club lies its antithesis – Hartford Golf Club. Located in Cheshire, near the Liverpool-Manchester metropolitan area, Hartford GC is a nine-hole, semi-private club looking to push the boundaries.
“We’re just trying to be progressive enough,” said Paul Cunningham, who is the club’s retail manager and manages its social media accounts. “We want to move the game forward.”
Hartford GC first appeared on GOLF.com’s radar thanks to a viral tweet that has been around in recent days with a sign encouraging golfers to choose tees based on scoring averages rather than gender or age. Intrigued by the avant-garde proposal, we deepened the club.
As it turns out, progressive attitudes towards tee boxes aren’t the only way Hartford has moved away from the mainstream of golf. The club have also abandoned their dress code and now encourage players to come as they please.
Jeans and hoodies are the new normal. No golf shoes? No problem. The people who run Hartford won’t blink.
“Golf is changing, and I think for the better,” Cunningham said. “We’re trying to get rid of a lot of these old, old-fashioned rules. “
The club is also suitable for beginners. With skill-matched tees, the front tees of par 5s protrude about 200 yards, making pars and birdies much more accessible to beginners. Best of all, the club encourages novices to play truncated rounds – three, six or nine holes – while they hone their games.
“We don’t all have to play nine holes or play 18 holes,” Cunningham said. “We’re doing something with our juniors where they play three holes first. And then when they can hit the target score, they go up and play six holes. When they can reach that target score, they can move up to nine holes.
Cunningham likened the process to swimming badges, where progress can easily be tracked with measurable progress.
“We just think this is the future of golf,” he said. “Why does everyone have to play 18 holes?” “
Even if you’ve never played golf before, Hartford is a welcoming place. Anyone can walk into the pro shop and request a set of rental clubs to try out on the lineup – for free.
“Anyone can try their hand at golf,” Cunningham said. “We want to make people understand that anyone can go to the stand, even without equipment. Wear a hoodie. Wear a pair of sneakers. Wear a pair of jeans. We’ll lend you clubs… Everyone started somewhere.
The reception of this progressive attitude has been largely positive. Hartford had around 300 members just a few years ago, but since then that number has climbed to nearly 500. Although part of this can be attributed to the pandemic boom that has benefited the golf industry The welcoming atmosphere of the club has also been a boon to its success.
“The vibe is a lot better,” Cunningham said. “We are trying to develop the game.”