Golf Pants vs. Dress Pants: What’s the Difference?
Mention golf, and who doesn’t immediately form a mental image of those beige slacks or, on the extreme end, bright, checker-patterned pants? They are the signature style of any good golfer.
Golf pants are expensive, so what’s wrong with wearing regular pants or not bothering to change after a day in the office?
Golf pants are sporting apparel, and a lot of attention goes into the design, fit, and fabric, all intended to enhance your game, promoting flexibility of movement and keeping you comfortable. After all, you could be wearing them for several hours.
Learn the key differences and what goes into making good golfing pants. We also cover how to find the right fit and brand for your size and playing conditions while not breaking the rules.
What Are Golf Pants?
Golf pants are typically made of lightweight, stretchable materials such as polyester, cotton, or polyester-cotton blends. These materials offer greater flexibility and ease of movement for golfers, allowing them to comfortably perform actions such as swinging, bending, stretching, and walking.
Golf pants are a blend of history and tradition, and the design and colors reflect that golf, when it first appeared on the scene, was primarily a game for the elite. Traditionally, golfers would wear tweed pants.
Modern materials allow a mix of traditional design and breathable, stretchable fabrics to offer comfort and movement without losing any element of true golfing style.
The USGA governs the sport of golf in the US and has its own rules on acceptable golfing wear, including for amateurs. USGA rules prohibit golfers from wearing jeans, joggers, or denim when playing in tournaments like the US Golf Challenge. Golf pants would be anything that doesn’t fall into restricted apparel.
Besides the USGA, many golf clubs and courses will have regulations about what constitutes acceptable attire.
What’s the Difference Between Golf Pants and Regular Pants?
The most notable difference between golf pants and regular pants or dress pants is the fit and the material.
Golf pants are designed for performance, whereas regular pants are for aesthetics. Consequently, golf pants often run at a much higher price tag than regular dress wear.
Dress pants typically consist of heavier fabrics and may feature additional flourishes like cuffs and pleats. The additional fabric restricting movement is not what you want on the course.
Golf pants are made using less material and tend to deploy modern lightweight and breathable fabrics, offering maximum movement and comfort. They also don’t have lining like regular pants, which would make the wearer too warm on a mild or hot day.
The bottom line is that golf pants should enhance your game, whereas regular pants will likely feel uncomfortable and could even prove detrimental. While there are some designs that you can wear on and off the course, the risk of impacting your performance is not worth it.
What to Look for in Golf Pants
We’ve emphasized that golf pants are tailored for performance, not just aesthetics, but what features should you look for in a given pair? Consider the factors below that will affect your performance, the playing conditions, and more.
Fit is crucial, and a good pair of golf pants should offer comfort and breathability. Flexibility is another all-important factor so as not to impede your movement.
Fit isn’t just about size but also playing conditions. You don’t want to be overheated when those inevitable temperature changes occur.
Golf pants need to be comfortable to walk in for long distances, allow you to get in and out of a golf cart quickly, and not restrict your swing.
Golfing pants usually come in a skinny or regular fit. The skinny-fit golfing pant is more tapered and offers a slim silhouette, so it is best suited to a slim golfer.
That said, if you typically wear a relaxed or regular fit, it’s best to stick with what you know. Otherwise, the pants will feel tight and uncomfortable, adversely impacting your game.
Traditional or regular-fit golfing pants do not have a tapered leg through the cuff. The leg is wider and straighter to give a looser feel without appearing too baggy and will be comfortable for long hours spent on the course.
Some styles come with pleats to enhance the formal appearance. If you don’t like the pleats, opt for a flat front style that will keep the wider leg.
The length of the golfing pant is also essential. An overly long fit will catch on the spikes of golf shoes.
Look for brands with stretch. These offer the ultimate freedom of movement while retaining that classic, formal look.
Sizing is not standard and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so always check out the exact measurements and, if you can, try before buying. Most retailers will offer measurements for the waist and leg length so that you can find a suitable fit.
Also called moisture management material or intelligent fabric, breathable fabrics allow golfing pants allow air to circulate so that the wearer is neither chilled nor overheated, even in damp or humid conditions.
These fabrics wick moisture away, so you will always be dry and comfortable, whatever the weather conditions.
Choose a material with tightly woven microfibers so that wind cannot penetrate the fabric.
Water repellent technology also prevents the material from becoming waterlogged. It’s easy for the weather to change during a long golfing round. Water repellent fabric will withstand light rainfall.
Some golf pants nowadays have UV protection to prevent players from getting sunburned through clothes. Avoid pure cotton golf pants as they can become very hot.
Most golf pants contain a percentage of Elastane, a fiber characterized by its remarkable stretch properties. Elastane can stretch an unbelievable distance and always return to its original shape, allowing the pants to provide greater flexibility.
You can still make a statement no matter what you choose for your golf pants. Remember, lighter colors are cooler for summer games but will show dust marks and grass stains.
Most players have summer wear and darker golf pants for the winter months.
It’s easy for novice players to overlook the importance of the waistband, but just think how much your body rotates when you take a shot. Without the right waistband, your shirt will almost always end up pulling out of your golf pants.
Look for a pair of golf pants that have a waist designed to avoid this. It usually features some sort of light elastic which is not so tight as to become uncomfortable or restrict your movement.
Some golf pants have a silicone band tucked inside the waistline and out of sight to keep the shirt in place.
Pockets in golf pants are essential as you will always need to carry small items like golf balls and ball markers away from your cart.
Check if you have enough pockets to suit your needs. Some golf pants will have up to six pockets on the front and back and a small tee pocket located inside the front pocket.
Most regular pants don’t have pockets that are deep enough for the golfer’s needs.
When Should You Wear Golf Pants?
Most golf clubs will allow players to wear stylish shorts but not short shorts, usually shorts which reach to the knee and are of a classic design with a belt.
Shorts are great if the weather is scorching, but you may find that in tournaments or competitions, the rules insist you wear golfing pants.
Can You Wear Golf Pants Casually?
There has always been a trend for sportswear to crossover into fashion and casual wear—look at the popularity of Nike footwear.
Since golf pants are designed to be comfortable, stretchable, and regulate your body temperature, they can be a great choice to wear casually or for certain practical days where there may be a lot of walking.
Golf pants look great if you have the correct fit, so you know you will always be stylish when you wear them. And, don’t forget all those handy pockets that can help keep your valuables close at hand.
Golf pants are also acceptable as business casual wear, perfect if you plan a game at the end of your working day. You can pair them with an open-necked shirt and jacket for meetings with clients before or after treating them to a round of 18 holes. Just avoid those excessive checks and plaids.
Perhaps more than people realize, golf pants perform an essential function for the player. They are, after all, sporting apparel.
Designed to keep the golfer at the correct temperature regardless of the weather conditions and to provide the ultimate stretch and flexibility, a stylish pair of golf pants can double up for business and casual wear.
Golfing pants allow you to express your personality, so there are plenty of vibrant, patterned designs to make a statement on the course. However, always check club rules, especially for competitions, as there may be restrictions on what you can wear.
Ready to upgrade your wardrobe and performance? Shop STITCH for stylish golf pants you can wear on and off the course.