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Kilspindie Golf Club has taken a bold decision to modernise, starting by relaxing its dress code.

bunkered.co.uk has seen an email sent by captain Mike Mitchell to members of the East Lothian club last week.

In it, he outlines the changes that the club is making along with the reasons for them.

“Everyone in golf wants to make it a more open and welcoming sport,” explained Mitchell. “Golf clubs are going out of business, and the latest Scottish Golf statistics indicate that membership numbers continue to decline. We are not totally immune from these trends. One issue that comes up repeatedly is that there are unnecessary and unwelcoming rules and restrictions which discourage participation.

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“We have received many comments indicating that a restrictive dress code, particularly for the clubhouse, keeps people away. Members’ families are often prevented from joining them at the club because they are not dressed in golfing or formal clothes.” 

Mitchell added that a member’s partner was recently told by another member at the club the club that she was not “suitably dressed” for the clubhouse because she was wearing jeans with the result that she won’t return to the club. 

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Because Kilspindie wants to encourage much greater use of its clubhouse and its hospitality, it has decided to make a change.

“Once we had decided to change to a simpler and much less restrictive dress code we felt that it should be as simple as possible with as few outright restrictions as possible,” added Mitchell. “Smart, clean and appropriate appearance was all we really wanted to see.”

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On the subject of jeans, Mitchell added: “In a time when we allow fluorescent Day-Glo John Daly style trousers, Ian Pouter style multi coloured ones and many other mind boggling variations which are certainly ‘golfing clothes’ and sold as such, we decided it was hard to justify banning jeans.”

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Addressing the prospect of people being upset on the grounds of ‘tradition’, Mitchell said: “If we adhered to the traditional golfing clothing of the late 19th century, our men would be playing in tweed jackets, short and tie and plus fours.

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“Golfing clothing has evolved and adapted and continues to do so. If we go back even twenty or thirty years, we would have had similar disagreements about the need for a jacket and tie in the clubhouse. Few still hanker for that particular imposition.

“Everyone needs to move forwards and we have an obligation to look towards tomorrow, not just today.”

Kilspindie follows other clubs in relaxing its dress code, including North Berwick, Tantallon, Dunbar and Longniddry.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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