If you think the Rules of Golf are complicated, try sorting through the rules of golf-course logos: How many is too many? Where, exactly, on your clothing is it most stylish to wear them? Fair game to sport a logo of a club you haven’t played?
Further muddling matters is that not all logos are created equal. They carry different connotations and cachet. What’s an image-conscious golfer to do?
Just as the governing bodies have streamlined the rulebook, The Etiquetteist set out to simplify a tangled topic.
Here’s an authoritative 8-point guide to protect you from the withering judgment of your peers.
1. “1” is the magic number
Unless you’re getting paid to wear them, a good rule of thumb is to stick to an odd number of logos, and to keep that number to fewer than three.
2. Mix ’em up
If you insist on wearing multiple logos, try not to make them all from the same club. This is what is known in fashion circles as “too matchy-matchy,” and what is known on the course as a strange decision, likely to be viewed as either a) showy or b) a sign that you dress in the dark.
3. Walk softly and brandish a small logo
The large, garish logo is the fashion equivalent of making excuses on the first tee. Just as no one needs to hear it, no one needs to have it waved in their face. A subtle emblem on your cap or breast pocket should do it (a ball marker with a logo is a fine choice, too). In the best-case scenario, there’s a story behind the logo, so if someone notices and asks, you’ve got a conversation piece.
4. The perils of a prestige logo
Congratulations! You played Cypress Point. You have reason to be pleased. You also have reason to wear the logo. Just be mindful: for nearly every person who wants to chat about it, there will be another who is put off by what they see as peacocking.
5. Membership has its privileges
Wearing a logo is a fine way to signify your pride and support for the club to which you belong. Let your freak flag fly. But rules #1 and #2 still apply.
6. The logo as secret language
Some clubs — and you know which ones they are! — acquire a kind of underground cool. Brandishing their logos is not so much a form of boasting as it is a way of connecting with kindred spirits. Which, in the end, is what the game is all about.
7. The Augusta National exception
In the rigid interpretation of certain logo purists, you shouldn’t wear the logo unless you played the course. We understand the argument. We mostly agree. But we’ll make an exception for the home of the Masters, provided you were really at the toonament.
8. You do you
The most important rule might make the others obsolete. You want to take the Nascar-driver route and go about your round like a roving billboard? More power to you. Own your sense of fashion as squarely as you do your own swing.