History of Womens Golf Fashion

Written by: Sarah Proctor

Over the centuries, women have become masterful at competing in a man’s world, on all counts – from the classrooms to the boardrooms, to all forms of sport, and the game of golf is no exception. 

Golf originated in Scotland in the 15th century, but for men only, and whilst there were sporadic attempts from a few brave women who played in this time, it was not until the 19th century that women’s golf was accepted, and competitive golf allowed. 

Closer to home, the first formally recorded beginning of women’s golf was in 1889 at the Cape Golf Club where women were allowed for the first time. Graaf Reinet and Maritzburg Golf Club records women playing in a similar time frame while the rest of South Africa only saw women golfers on course in the early 1900’s.

We thank these determined and headstrong pioneers from the early eras who made golf a game for women too. 

Whilst these times made it so difficult for women just to play the game as it was deemed a sport “not suitable for ladies”, the clothing that was worn back in the day, with extreme modesty still required, was even more of a challenge. 

In the beginning, Victorian style outfits were worn on course. Imagine trying to swing a club freely, or find a smooth putting stroke wearing multiple petticoats, long skirts in heavy fabrics and restrictive corsets! Never mind the straw boater hat that was also seen on course – not much practicality in that accessory …

So, by the start of the 20th century, women golfers had decided that enough was enough.

The 1900’s was a time of revolution for women’s golf fashion

Clothing became less restrictive; corsets made way for bras and girdles; matching top and skirt sets with a cardigan were popular, often worn with patterned stockings.  Skirt lengths gradually started to move up and sleeveless blouses were also allowed. 

Golf fashion became more prominent and even graced some of the front covers of fashion magazines like Vogue. 

The skort made its introduction in the 1950’s, as did bold colours and patterns. This was a real turning point in women’s golf fashion as women golfers could now look fashionable on the course and be more comfortable. 

The concept of fashion meets function emerged which was a real breakthrough for ladies’ golf attire. 

And, not surprisingly, with this improved outlook on women’s golf wear, came enhanced performance. Women were now starting to play faster and play better.