From:

Zephyr Melton


November 1, 2021

While golf is sometimes associated with tradition and exclusivity, the Hartford Golf Club in England tries to shed this reputation.

Hartford Golf Club

When Tyrrell Hatton won the BMW Championship of the European Tour last year, his dressing room caused more buzz than his game. A hoodie ?! On a tour pro ?! How radical!

The “Hoodie on the Golf Course” debate was hot and the discussion lasted for weeks. Since then, hoodies have become more common on the field, but there have also been a few private clubs that have dug their spikes in the ground to take on the progressive hooded wearers.

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Take England’s Wearside Golf Club. After Hatton’s victory, the club took the opportunity to commemorate its membership.

“Given Tyrell Hatton’s recent success and fashion statement and after some discussions about it, I can draw your attention to the club’s dress code and reiterate that ‘hoodies’ are not acceptable golf attire for Wearside Golf Club, are they? as torn designer jeans, ”the statement said. “I hope that this will avoid unnecessary misunderstandings on this topic.”

Sunday: One of the world’s best golfers has won a big tournament in a hoodie. Maybe golf will progress and trust people to dress themselves?

Tuesday: pic.twitter.com/5xpMX2qOtE

– The Club (@TheClub) October 13, 2020

The rules and customs of golf clubs are almost as old as the game itself, but today there are a growing number of clubs that are instead working to tear down the elitist reputation the game has earned.

Just a few hours southwest of Wearside Golf Club is its counterpart – Hartford Golf Club. Located in Cheshire, near the Liverpool-Manchester metropolitan area, Hartford GC is a nine-hole, semi-private club that aims to push boundaries.

“We’re just trying to be pretty progressive,” said Paul Cunningham, who serves as the club’s retail manager and manages its social media accounts. “We want to bring the game forward.”

Hartford GC first got on GOLF.com’s radar thanks to a viral tweet circulating the past few days that included a sign asking golfers to pick tea boxes based on scores point average rather than gender or age. Fascinated by the forward-looking proposal, we dug deeper into the club.

We’ve moved away from gender-specific tees like this golf club below and are more based on skill, but above all – fun! ️‍♂️

What do you think? Is this the right way to go for golf? ️ pic.twitter.com/Wr8GkAfJxN

– Hartford Golf Club ⛳️ (@HartfordGolfC) October 31, 2021

It turns out that the progressive attitude towards tea boxes isn’t the only way Hartford has moved away from the mainstream of golf. The club has also abandoned its dress code and is now encouraging players to come as they please.

Jeans and hoodies are the new norm. No golf shoes? No problem. The people who run Hartford won’t blink an eyelid.

“Golf is changing and I think for the better,” said Cunningham. “We’re trying to get rid of a lot of these traditional, outdated rules.”

The club is also beginner friendly. With adapted tee boxes, the front tees on the par 5s reach around 200 yards, making pars and birdies much easier for newbies to reach. Better still, the club encourages beginners to play shortened rounds – three, six, or nine holes – as they improve their game.

“We’re not just about people having to play nine or eighteen holes,” said Cunningham. “We do something with our juniors where they play three holes first. And when they reach the goal, they step up and play six holes. If you reach this target number of points, you can move up to nine holes. “

Hartford Golf Club

Cunningham compared the process to swimming badges, where progress can easily be tracked with measurable progress.

“We just believe this is the future of golf,” he said. “Why do all have to play 18 holes?”

If you’ve never played golf, Hartford is a welcoming place. Anyone can go to the Pro Shop and request a number of rental clubs to try out on the range – for free.

“Anyone can play golf,” said Cunningham. “We want to give people the idea that everyone can go on the range – even without equipment. Wear a hoodie. Wear a pair of trainers. Wear jeans. We’ll lend you clubs … Everyone started somewhere. “

The reception of this progressive attitude has been overwhelmingly positive. Hartford had a membership of around 300 just a few years ago, but that number has grown to nearly 500 since then. While part of this can be attributed to the pandemic-induced boom in the golf industry, the club’s welcoming atmosphere has also been a boon to its success.

“The mood is much better,” said Cunningham. “We’re trying to make the game bigger.”

Golf.com editor

Zephyr Melton is Assistant Editor at GOLF.com, where he spends his days blogging, producing, and editing. Before joining the GOLF.com team, he attended the University of Texas, followed by stints with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He supports in all matters of teaching and covers amateur and ladies golf.